Book Reviews: Black Lives Matter. Educational Reads.

We want to learn and We want to do better. In fact, it's not so much a want as it is a MUST. Our eyes and ears have been closed for far too long, not intentionally, no, but closed none the less. Now at thirty-two years old, we MUST do something, we MUST help make a change. We've been reading a lot of books lately to get a better understanding of a history and a culture that we thought we knew about. We were wrong. There is so much more to it and so much more we need to learn. We pray and we will act so that what is coming, is better than what has been/what is.

Kelly's Thoughts on 'Stamped.'

Jason Reynolds has instantly gone on my list of writers whose writing style just clicks. From the 'About' section of his website to reading this book, I very much fell in love with his way of connecting with his audience. I am looking forward to reading more of his work, especially as I learn more about writing for middle grade audiences. 

'Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You,' taught me so much and helped me to better understand the hourly fight and daily struggles that racist ideas have woven into society for people of colour. The more I read, the more I thought the next page would get better, okay maybe the next one, okay maybe the next one after that and when it didn't I got angry and frustrated. This book spans from the 1500's to present day and the racist ideas within in it are still poisoning society. This is where I understand that I can never fully understand, but it is where I also understand that my anger and frustration mean nothing if I don't do something about it.

My education doesn't stop here. My NEED to do better doesn't stop here. The history that I have just read about cannot be changed, no matter how angry or heartbroken it makes me, but right now is our time to stand up, to learn, to vote, to speak up and to make history, but this time history that makes a difference to people's lives for the better. This won't happen in a day, or a week, or a month, or even a year, but it NEEDS to happen. We must do it together and we mustn't stop until change is made. 

I highly recommend that you pick up this book. Educate yourself and then act.

Kelly's Thoughts on 'If Beale Street Could Talk.'

Onto the fiction side of things. James Baldwin was an American novelist, playwright, poet, essayist and activist. I have seen his quotes pop up a lot the past few weeks and they really stuck with me, so I wanted to read some of his work. This book comes under Penguin classic literature. 

I found his writing style to be really interesting as he wrote this from the perspective of a nineteen year old girl and she tells the whole story all the way through the book. Even when we jump to the past or someone else's experiences it's still Tish telling the story, as though she is repeating what was told to her, or like she was a fly on the wall in the moment. It was different to the writing I'm used to and the idea now that you can't always be in someone's head or be giving the reader a monologue. We do flit between what Tish is experiencing present day, but a lot of it is still from her thoughts and feelings. 

I have to admit that some of the language and scenes could be quite powerful and uncomfortable at times, but that only helped paint the picture of what this story is about. Which ultimately is the struggles this black family face in society and how they are fighting to get one of their own out of jail for a crime he did not commit. Throughout all the uncomfortable moments I persevered and found myself getting very, very invested in this family's fight and just want they had to go through. Honest to goodness I felt my blood boiling so much at certain points and can't even begin to imagine how it must feel to be targeted just for doing every day things. 

If you've been reading a lot of non-fiction lately or watching documentaries, I know you'll have grasped some idea, while not truly being able to relate to how it feels as a person of colour in society, (our white privilege) so if you want to go on a journey with characters from the beginning to try to connect and learn from a fictional stand point too, I highly recommend 'If Beale Street Could Talk.'

Lucy's Thought's on Natives. Race & Class in the Ruins of the British Empire.

This book from Akala was incredibly insightful, eye opening and raw. I think a lot of us having been saying the words "I didn't know that" lately, regarding British history and the parts we played in Slavery and the segregation and discrimination of people of colour, this book fills in some giant gaps in what I learnt growing up and as they say 'knowledge is power'. It has been helpful for me to better understand what we are currently fighting for with the Black Lives Matter Movement. It's not simply about being a good person and being kind to people of colour, it's standing by their sides and standing up to the higher ups, the people in power, the corporations who are holding them back and continually manipulating the media and allowing corrupt systems to thrive.

When Akala speaks of his school days you can't help but compare them to your own, the same goes with his childhood, it's an eye opener to consider that I myself have never been stopped by the police walking home from school or had a teacher judge me and speak to me in a derogatory manner or hold me back because of the colour of my skin.

In light of better understanding, it has helped me in knowing what to research. There have been a lot of powerful petitions and protests online at the moment and so many campaigns setting out to make a difference, so please keep your eyes peeled and do what you can.

Furthermore, there are many wonderful organisations you can donate to who have been working tirelessly to make a change for many many years. I recently donated to The Stephen Lawrence Trust which is a charitable trust helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed through inspiration and the right tools and resources. Their website is brilliant and is set out so you can see where your money goes, from paying travel costs for a young person to attend training to aiding in the training of a volunteer. Please visit The Stephen Lawrence Trust today and also give Natives a read.

We have also donated to 'Little Box of Books' which we think is an amazing initiative. They are currently trying to raise £55,000 to get more inclusive books into school libraries, which we think is much needed. So please, visit their website and donate if you can.

Nothing but love,

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