A huge range of events are taking place around the world for Black History Month during October. Each week we'll be recommending something you may wish to explore - and you can find full listings for all the UK events at www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk. Last week, we encouraged you to discover the work of visual activist Zanele Muholi (see our blog post here). This week, Carolyn, Jo and Raks recommend some of their favourite books and films about race.
Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World
author Layla F Saad (2020)
Carolyn writes: What I love about this informative book is the hope it brings. Layla’s book invites me as a white person, to bring my truth, love and commitment and encourages me to care for myself along the way as I am introduced to the many hidden structures and styles of thinking that cause Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people so much harm. Her call for white folk to engage is fair, generous and urgent. She maps out the territory with amazing clarity and this has brought me much relief - being better informed I feel less anxious and more confident about ways I can participate to support change. I also really love the book's structure - chapter by chapter themes and questions to reflect on each day. It makes for an excellent group study book.
White Teeth is a multi-award winning 2000 novel by the British author Zadie Smith, subsequently made into a 4-part Channel 4 drama.
Raks writes: White Teeth is a book about multicultural London, where many stories unfold, and you hear stories about people from a range of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I really loved this book when I read it. It was a London I recognised but I really appreciated the insight into the lives of people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds to me. And the section on Black hair will stay with me forever!
We Need To Talk About Race: Understanding the Black Experience in White Majority Churches
author Ben Lindsay (2019)
Described as "A clear and compelling discussion of how the church can better reach, support and champion black congregation members"
Carolyn writes: I found this book riveting from beginning to end. Ben has opened up a window for me, to understand better how Black folk may be struggling in our Church. His gentle and fair challenge has given me insights and a passion to engage. I also recommend getting the Audiobook which is read by Ben and with two audio interludes on Black Women’s experiences read by Cleo Sylvestre.
director Channing Godfrey Peoples (2020)
Raks writes: This film is in cinemas now. I saw it this week and I absolutely loved it. Juneteenth is an American holiday celebrating freedom from slavery. It is a heartwarming film, exploring the lives of one Black family, and focusing on the mother-daughter relationship. Its themes include being true to yourself, being your authentic self, and following your dreams. It is perfect and very much speaks to the experience of being Black in the US.
Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire
author Akala (2019)
Jo writes: This was one of the most formative books in my understanding of Empire and Racism. It’s an incredible summary of the history of British colonialism intertwined in Akala’s own experience growing up in NW London as a mixed race, working class boy and the wider immigrant experience. It’s a compelling read, or listen and Akala includes historical rebellions that are scarcely included in content on this subject. We cannot understand Racism and White Supremacy without understanding it within the context of Capitalism and this book draws the link perfectly.
director Ava DuVernay (2016)
13th is a documentary film on Netflix that explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States.
Jo writes: 13th is an immensely powerful watch. It provides clear insight into the racialised nature of the American criminal justice system, although many parallels can be made to the situation in Britain. DuVernay demonstrates how the prison system was designed to oppress Black people in an acceptable way to the American public, and for the profit of companies. It’s awakening and thought provoking.