Black and British by David Olusoga
Anyone unfamiliar with the history of Black Britons.
In a nutshell:
Author Olusoga provides this children’s version of his book Black and British: A Forgotten History.
“They would complain to the owners of pubs, restaurants or hotels that were serving Black GIs as guests. One white British woman running a bar had a complaint like this from a white GI. She replied that she would carry on serving Black soldiers because ‘their money is as good as yours, and we prefer their company.’”
Why I chose it:
My partner picked it up and after reading it passed it along to me. Also, as two white people from the US living in England, we thought it might be good understand the history of this country beyond a few Kings and Queens.
As someone from the US, and educated in a predominantly white education system, I was barely taught much about US history beyond the glorification of colonialism, let alone about the history of any other nations. Since I’m making a new country my home, it seems appropriate to make an effort to learn more here. This book is aimed at tweens (I think, judging from the writing style), so it doesn’t take any deep dives, but it does provide the start of a history, dating all the way back to the Roman times.
Much of what was in here I’d vaguely heard of (especially the areas Professor Olusoga highlights in the 1700s and beyond), but much of the information about things before then was brand new to me. And I learned some new things about topics I had a baseline knowledge of, like the Windrush generation, and the British profit from slave trade and slavery.
When the George Floyd murder happened in the US this summer and protests were organized, there were some (white) people in the UK shaking their heads and sort of congratulating themselves that racism isn’t as big a thing in the UK. To which the Black people and people of color I know here said, to paraphrase, ‘bullshit.’ This book, though in less strong language, definitely shows how the Black people in Britain have faced racism. But it also celebrates and highlights the accomplishments and contributions Black Britons have made to the culture and society here.
Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: