Adapted from the viral blog post of the same name, Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race uncovers the often unmentioned history of race in Britain, and how relations stand today. She explores the issue from all angles, and this award-winning book has sparked conversations on what it means to be a person of colour in the UK in the twenty-first century. This is a topic which too often goes unspoken of and is relegated to history, but Reni Eddo-Lodge uses her work to show that an open dialogue on race is still incredibly important, now more so than ever.
Every voice raised against racism chips away at its power.
We can’t afford to stay silent.
This book was incredibly eye-opening for me. I’m ashamed to say that before I read Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race I knew very little about the history of race relations in the UK. I spent so much of my time at university studying works by African American authors and considering the contexts of slavery and the civil rights movement, but I never stopped to consider how black history in my own country differs from that of the US. Eddo-Lodge covers such a broad expanse of black British history and does so in such an accessible way.
I read this book over the August bank holiday weekend, which added a deeper nuance to Eddo-Lodge’s writing for me. Last year, I moved to London, and I live a stones throw away from Notting Hill. I work in Notting Hill, passing under the giant green heart of Grenfell Tower every morning. Every August bank holiday, Notting Hill Carnival takes places in an explosion of colour. I knew that, like Pride, this cultural celebration was borne out of violence, but I never knew the full history. As carnival-goers celebrated, I was reading about the 1958 Notting Hill race riots, as well the Grenfell tragedy that has become a huge part of the Carnival celebrations since it happened two years ago. This really enforced for me the fact that problems with race relations in Britain are not a thing of the past. Further reading: this is a really great article about how Carnival has used it’s high-profile to raise awareness for the Grenfell tower injustice.
What I mean to say is, this book is as much about the history of race relations in Britain as it is about the present. It’s carefully structured chapters cover everything from structural racism to white feminism. There’s even, unbelievably, an interview with far-right former BNP leader Nick Griffin as Eddo-Lodge attempts to make sense of his fascist viewpoint. This book touches on hundreds of years of black history in Britain and was truly so educational for me. With the tense political climate of UK at the moment, I would urge everyone to read this book, now.
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Read for the NEWTs Magical Readathon. Class: Defence Against the Dark Arts. Grade: O.