I continued my reading challenge by reading a nonfiction book, and decided to find something which would expand upon the themes of race and immigration I had read about in Americanah. Often when presented with the topic of racism, british people are faced with an overwhelmingly american discourse. Whilst what we find online and in the most widely discussed books is often applicable to the UK a gap is left. And it leaves a lot of space for us to excuse ourselves. “Not here,” we can say, “the police do that in america, it’s not like that here,” “White Americans do that, not us”. We think of segregation and slavery as something that touched only american shores and we learn about it as foreign history.
This view is inaccurate. Something which is plainly laid out in this expertly written beginners’ guide to racism in the UK. It shifted my view of my own country. The racism of our apset which I vaguely knew about as a blurred image of a “no dogs, no blacks, no irish” sign in the background of my vision of history was brought into sharp focus and shown to me as part of a coherent part of our history. It then ties this elegantly into our present, showing the parts of our society which we would much prefer to ignore, backed up with startling evidence.
I knew there was racism in the UK before I read this book, but i understood it as a ghost of american racism. Not as its own entity. This is a book which should be read by every citizen of the United kingdom. It provides a much needed understanding of where we really are with race and how we got here. I would recommend it to anyone.