“I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race. Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the existence of structural racism and its symptoms. I can no longer engage with the gulf of an emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates their experience. You can see their eyes shut down and harden. It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals. It’s like they can no longer hear us. This emotional disconnect is the conclusion of living a life oblivious to the fact that their skin colour is the norm and all others deviate from it.”
I am going to be honest: When I first posted the cover of this book on my Instagram story the day I excitedly started reading it, I was a little nervous. Nervous wondering if it will offend my white friends. But then I thought, ‘if it offends them, then I guess that explains the title of the book’.
This book is a brilliant and eye-opening account of structural racism in the United Kingdom. Well-researched and absolutely honest, it really is how The Observer describes it: ‘A Wake Up Call to a Nation In Denial’. The book is divided into 7 chapters, first discussing Black history in the UK and later encompasses discussion about institutional racism, white privilege and white feminism, ending with a chapter titled something which is always going to be in my memory, ‘There is no justice, there is just us’.
Reni Eddo-Lodge very brilliantly breaks down how racism is not just the simplified version that people think of —‘it is wrong to discriminate among people on the basis of their skin colour’. She analyses and describes how racism is fuelled by power and is not just the simple existence of prejudice. She talks about how in a world where people care more about being politically correct and being seen as ‘progressive’, people can be ‘subconsciously racist’: racism does not always manifest itself in the form of verbal and offensive slurs.
I also couldn’t help but notice the parallel between racial discrimination and prejudice in the UK & caste based discrimination in India: The struggles of people discriminated against in their own country, the movements that aim to eradicate these birth-based prejudices, the ‘solutions’ put forward, the complacence among the privileged about these issues and also the refusal among them to see society as it is: harbouring discrimination, and often, structurally.
This book, from what I read, opened up more much-needed conversations about race in the UK. I urge everyone to read this book. Specially if you are in the UK, and specially if you are white. White people, this book does not mean to implicate each one of you. It is an attempt to make you realize things your privilege often blinds you to. It is an attempt to open up a conversation that most of you in this country avoid but shouldn’t.
You can find out more about this book on Goodreads, here! I hope this post inspires you to mark this book in your to-read list.
Until next time!