Insole Book Club Notes – May

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

In the three weeks or so since the book club met to discuss Why I’m No Longer… , Eddo Lodge has become the first Black author to top the UK bestseller charts (The first. In 2020. Unbelievable) and has widely and publicly discussed her mixed feels on her success – Guardian article here.

Despite being released way back in 2017, record sales have been prompted by the death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter protests world-wide and the recognition that we all have a role to play in educating ourselves. Performative anti-racism, allyship, antifa and white privilege have become mainstream conversations and I feel like these have shifted awareness into a new and more productive place.

The bulk of our conversation around Why I’m No Longer… initially revolved around our complicity as white people/people with particular privileges, and how it is important that for many of us, this wasn’t a comfortable read. A few of us noted that chapter on feminism was particularly difficult, but also insightful.

Throughout the book club, we’d read a number of books by international black authors, so we felt that it was interesting and very useful to read a British perspective and there were many issues that Eddo-Lodge raised that were new to us.

Pretty much all of us had never heard of the Cardiff/Newport riots, which is appalling, and we collectively found the history chapter enlightening and were also shocked at how much history had been erased within the education system.

We found Eddo-Lodge’s explanations of systemic racism in UK informative and found it useful to discuss it in comparison to prejudice. We reflected on diversity versus inclusivity. Particularly in workplace environments where sometimes action is taken because its the law rather than a true commitment to diversity; doing something because its the right thing to do and a creating a workforce that is stronger for its diversity. One member shared a really useful HR example about innovation and how diversity is crucial for new ideas. ‘You don’t know your own blind spots’

We talked about positive discrimination and how those that oppose it often come from a place of idealism, stating that we live in a meritocracy. We also discussed how the press have had a central role in making out that positive discrimination has failed.

We examined Nick Griffin’s theory, citing Professor Coleman from Oxford University, that by would Britain become majority non-white, and his beliefs that that would be a bad thing. We talked at length about the far rights arguments around ‘British’ values and the white working class. We were shocked at the statistics Eddo-Lodge presented on poverty and how it disproportionally affects people of colour. We don’t talk about class anymore, we talk about socio-ecomonic deprivation.

Considering the ingrained biases in education, what impact will Covid19 have on the futures of black children, when students are given their predicted grades as exam results? The reality of having to work twice as hard to get half as far echoed through so many of the books that we have read through book club.

Ultimately we took on board the authors message that its on us to do the work and for us to seek out information to educate ourselves and we’d recommend Why I’m No Longer… as a great place for people to start.

Further reading/watching:

We’re also currently reading:

  • We, the Survivors by Tash Aw
  • Island Song by Madeleine Bunting
  • Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore
  • Elephant Moon by John Sweeney
  • The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
  • My Own Country by Abraham Verghese

Please do get involved in the discussion below. Please share any further reading/watching recommendations!

We’ll be meeting in June to discuss Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo! Why not read along with us?

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