Yesterday I went to a discussion with Reni Eddo-Lodge about her book ‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’. I read the book not so long ago and have since been a big fan of hers.
She shared with the audience what the year, since her book was released, had been like. She has been overwhelmed by the range of responses her writing has triggered. Be it her detractors judging the book by its cover, or rather its title, and completely misreading it as ‘why I hate white people’. Or people of colour finally finding their lived experiences and feelings reflected in a book. Or white people for whom the book triggered a sort of self-exploration and journey of remorse. Reni says she had to remove her contact form on her website in order to keep her own sanity; she couldn’t keep up with the avalanche of emails.
What was particularly powerful last night were the questions that came from the crowd. Near to every question that was asked was preceded by the person’s own story and experience with structural racism, discrimination or post-colonial vicissitudes. While Reni’s book started as a blog to vent her frustrations with the denial of structural racism and the lack of recognition for intersectionality in today’s world, it has now transformed beyond a piece of writing to become a platform for dialogue. It gives particularly people of colour a safe space to share their stories and for these to be acknowledged and recognised by others.
Reni also made powerful points about the lack of education on black history in the UK, and for me, her book was overwhelmingly educational with regards to events that have shaped the BAME community and the world they live in. And both the book and the discussion last night have motivated me to educate myself further. So my next steps are to explore the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton. If you haven’t read her book, I’d definitely recommend it, and for further reading, check our her bibliography.