The killing of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests have highlighted once again the destructive role that endemic racism and hate plays in our society. The protests that have spread around the world will hopefully be a turning point in the battle against intolerance, but it is important that we acknowledge the shocking level of indifference shown by many to such an important issue.
Much of this indifference comes simply from a lack of understanding. Education leads to understanding, empathy and positive change. We must educate ourselves and our children to understand the futility of prejudice and fight for human equality by being actively anti-racist.
Below are three excellent non-fiction books which provide an intelligent insight into the roots of racism and its role in British society. Give one of these a read and be inspired to make a difference.
Natives confronts the role that race and class play in controlling millions of people in British modern society. A system built on notions of Empire and subjugation, that ensures the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. Akala examines the widespread British denial that racism is somehow a European or US problem, and the refusal of British society to engage on the topics of race and class prejudice.
Akala talks about his experiences growing up as a black child in London and the racism he experienced – explicitly and implicitly – throughout his life. Now a successful rapper, activist and journalist, Akala reflects on the obstructions he faced due to his skin colour and his working class background.
My cousin, Zahra, recommended Natives to me and I am forever grateful. It is one of the most intelligent and inspiring books I have ever read. I highly recommend this book.
British journalist, Angela Saini, explains the history of scientific racism – the belief that there are scientific differences between races – and shows how these ideas continue to permeate our society and modern scientific thinking.
It is a disturbing journey: one which began with European “intellectuals” in the nineteenth-century and led to the popularisation of eugenic theory – ideas that led ultimately to the horrors of the Holocaust. But it is the continuation of those ideas after the end of the Second World War – albeit in various disguises – that forms the main focus of Superior. What Saini reveals is shocking.
In a world that is fractured and witnessing a worrying resurgence of extremist right and left wing ideologies, Superior is an important book at the right time. A must read.
Probably the best known book on this list, Reni Eddo-Lodge’s polemic on racism and white privilege is eye-opening and hard-hitting. What began as a blog post that went viral has become one of the most important texts on the issue of racism in Britain today.
Eddo-Lodge looks at institutionalized racism in Britain through the eradication of history; class and power; feminism; and the political purpose of white dominance. It is an exceptional book.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is unforgiving. A rallying call for change, for people to stand up and speak out against racism and white privilege.
Make a difference
The above books are at times shocking and upsetting, but they will also inspire you to make a difference. By understanding the discrimination that many people in the world face throughout their lives because of their skin colour, we can be a positive voice for change now.
Their is a quote by Martin Luther King that is a poignant one:
Our Lives Begin to End the Day We Become Silent About Things That MatterMartin Luther King
In our silence about things such as racism and equal rights we become inevitably complicit in the continuation of hate and suffering. And in doing so we lose a part of ourselves. The part that makes life meaningful – kindness, love, empathy and humility.
It is our duty to not be silent, but to speak out and fight for what is right. Silence is unacceptable. We can all change the future, so be the change you wish to see in the world. The time is always right to do what is right.
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(Image by Life Matters, courtesy of Pexels)