Random House presents the audiobook edition of Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging written and read by Afua Hirsch.
Afua Hirsch is British. Her parents are British. She was raised, educated and socialised in Britain. Her partner, her daughter, her sister and the vast majority of her friends are British. So why is her identity and sense of belonging a subject of debate? The reason is simply because of the colour of her skin.
Blending history, memoir and individual experiences, Afua Hirsch reveals the identity crisis at the heart of Britain today. Far from affecting only minority people, Britain is a nation in denial about its past and its present. We believe we are the nation of abolition, but forget we are the nation of slavery. We sit proudly at the apex of the Commonwealth, but we flinch from the legacy of the empire. We are convinced that fairness is one of our values but that immigration is one of our problems.
Brit(ish) is the story of how and why this came to be and an urgent call for change.
"So where are you from?"
"No, where are you FROM?"
"Oh, do you mean where are my parents from?"
"Oh, they are from Ealing too!"
"No, where do they come from?"
If like many Londoners you have had this conversation while growing up you will appreciate Hirsch's perspectives around growing up Black British.
Often others won't see you as British despite the fact that your parents, grandparents and maybe their parents were all British citizens or British subjects or some combination of the two.
An excellent book about the search for identity which is well read by the author.
This is maybe the third book that I have written a review of in over 12 years of being an audible member. Definitely worth a credit.
This book conveys brilliantly the nuances, the everyday struggles and the messages received while growing up as a non- white living in Britain. Afua does an excellent job in articulating the deeper and subtle issues of race and identity by using her own life to depict this.
The book is a must read for non-white British who are first generation decedents and beyond.
It is a must read for white British parents who have children of mixed races or for those who simply wish to understand what it means to be non-white in the UK.
It intellectually dissect the British mindset of whites and non-whites from colonialism to Brexit and Afua doesn’t shy away from her own mindset and gives her honest and critical thoughts of her own life and perceptions of UK and the countries of her parents origin.
Her words were filled with emotion and her characters she depicts from her husband through to her aristocratic house mate made the book a great listen.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This book is fascinating. Hirsch's honesty and openness is refreshing. All Brits should read this!
This book encompasses the feelings, through magnificent storytelling, of many black people growing up in Britain, children of immigrants from Africa or the Caribbean, while also exploring the historical context behind these experiences.
Afua does a brilliant job narrating.
There is a wealth of insight crammed into this book about race and identity in Britain, describing how important it is to have a cohesive self by accepting that you may have other identities alongside being a UK citizen.
What hinders this process is the apparent racism that plagues British society, from being 'colour-blind' and thus ignoring the issue, to the awkward and troubled relationship with Britain's history and its origins. The author, Afua Hirsch, also discovers her own Ghanaian roots throughout her journey of self-awareness, making this book both a memoir and social commentary. Hirsch checks her privilege immediately, which makes a refreshing change.
While I can completely relate to her opinions on the racist structures in place and the microagressions that have become normalised, the historical and anthropological elements were the most fascinating parts for me. Learning about the racist views upheld by leading western thinkers such as Immanuel Kant and David Huhne, as well as how the 1919 race riots ensued over the perception of 'white cleansing' was deeply concerning.
Hirsch's call for change on Britain's selective amnesia is not new but it has a contemporary angle following the country's move to leave the EU. Incredibly engaging.