What Is Race? Who Are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions by Claire Heuchan & Nikesh Shukla

The Blurb On The Back:

Why is it important to talk about race?

How does it feel to experience racism?

Why does skin colour matter?

Talking about race is often discouraged, but in this book we’re aiming to bring everyone into the conversation.  We explore the history of race and society and discuss how racist attitudes come into being.  We look at belonging and identity, the damaging effects of stereotyping and the benefits of positive representation.  We talk about why its important to identify and challenge racist behaviour, wherever it exists.

Together with contributions from a range of writers of colour, including Inua Ellams, Derek Owusu, Nadine Aisha Jassat, Asim Chaudhry, Wei Ming Kam, Chitra Ramaswamy and Becky Olaniyi, we talk about our experiences relating to race and racism and discuss why skin colour matters.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Claire Heuchan is an award-winning feminist blogger and author and Nikesh Shukla a writer, editor and co-founder of The Good Journal and Good Literary Agency.  In this necessary, fascinating and thought-provoking must-read non-fiction book for children aged 10+ they aim to start a conversation about race and racism and why it’s important to identify and challenge racist behaviour and include moving personal experiences from guest contributors.

What I admired about this book is how direct it is. Heuchan and Shukla cut through all of the awkwardness that comes whenever race and racism comes up as a topic and are direct in telling the reader about why it’s important and necessary to talk about race and difference.  Their writing is accessible without being patronising and the way they and other contributors (including the actor and writer Asim Chaudhry, the playwright and performer Inua Ellams and activist Becky Olaniyi) talk about their experiences of race and difference really brings home the importance of the subject and helps the reader to empathise with them.

The book is strong on the importance of representation, explaining erasure and how self-wroth and self-representation are interlinked and it’s also good on explaining the legal protections that exist with regard to discrimination and harassment and – perhaps more importantly – how racism can be challenged by being a good ally and when and how to challenge people behaving badly.  It also poses questions for discussion, which enables this book to be a useful teaching aid in the classroom (or indeed, in any group situation as this is a subject that many adults struggle with as well) and aids with some useful books to read for more information and some helpful websites.

All in all, I think this is a great book that illuminates and informs on a difficult subject and as such, I would definitely recommend it.

WHAT IS RACE?  WHO ARE RACISTS?  WHY DOES SKIN COLOUR MATTER? AND OTHER BIG QUESTIONS was released in the United Kingdom on 11th October 2018.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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