The book that sparked a national conversation. Exploring everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand race relations in Britain today.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is a book that everyone should read.
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder last year, there were numerous BLM demonstrations across the UK. When reading reports about these demonstrations on social media, I saw so many comments from people (all of them white) who genuinely couldn’t understand why such demonstrations were being held ‘over here’. All the comments said something along the lines of “Racism is an American problem”.
And that’s what British people are brought up to believe. British people are brought up to believe that Britain’s an anti-racist utopia, that it has never been complicit in the mistreatment of people of colour. As Reni Eddo-Lodge says in chapter 1, Histories, the fact that she had to go looking for significant moments in black British history made her feel as though she’d been kept ignorant. This single sentence hits the nail on the head. I’ve learnt more about black British history, white privilege and structural and institutional racism in the past year than I learnt in the entire 27 years of my life before that.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race taught me about events that I had literally zero awareness of, events that aren’t even mentioned in school history classes, let alone discussed. I took GCSE history in school and one of the topics was WW1. The teachers would harp on about how great Britain was (no pun intended) because its people rallied together and it was one of the key players in the fight against Germany… Basically, these teachers made it sound as though Britain and Britain alone single-handedly won the war. What they didn’t mention was the fact that soldiers were drafted in from places such as India and the West Indies to fight for Britain. In the case of India, Britain promised to release it from colonial rule if its people fought. Did this happen? No, but no one talks about this. In A Level history, our teachers taught us about the Civil Rights Movement in the US, but completely neglected to teach us about the British civil rights movement. They told us about how Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white man on a bus in 1955, an act that helped instigate the Civil Rights Movement, but they never told us about the 1963 boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company. The boycott was in response to the company’s policy of refusing to employ Black and Asian people and led to the Bristol Omnibus Company changing its policy. Key events like this aren’t discussed in classrooms and, moreover, aren’t discussed in the media. As Reni Eddo-Lodge says on page 55 of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by “eclipsing the black British story so much…we convince ourselves that Britain has never had a problem with race.”
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is an absolute must-read. It’s an eye-opening book that highlights the racial injustices happening in Britain every single day. It covers a wide range of topics – from class to feminism, from history to politics – and is essential for anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of race relations in Britain.