For all of us 2020 was a year like no other. From the end of March to end of May we stood on our doorsteps, leant over balconies or out of our windows to clap the NHS in a national show of gratitude and unity; “we’re all in this together” was our mantra. Except we weren’t and we aren’t still. As the pandemic has progressed, what has become abundantly clear is that viruses do indeed discriminate. The impacts of coronavirus, both health-related and economic, fall disproportionately on ethnic minorities. Coupled with the tragic killing of George Floyd in USA and the resurgent Black Lives Matter movement, Covid-19 has provided an almost once-in-a-generation opportunity to reflect on race relations and to challenge overt, institutional and systemic racism, so that we can make changes for a better future.
But in the face of two pandemics disproportionately killing Black people, Covid-19 and racism, it’s easy to feel powerless, to absolve oneself of responsibility because the problem seems too entrenched, to revert to virtue signalling on social media. So what can we do? One thing we can do is to read, in the words of Ibram X. Kendi, “[n]ot books that reinforce old ideas about who we think we are, […] what we think racism is. Instead, we need to read books that are difficult or unorthodox, that don’t go down easily. Books that force us to confront our self-serving beliefs and make us aware that “I’m not racist” is a slogan of denial.” We can unlearn the racism that permeates every aspect of our lives.
To support one another in our ‘unlearning’ journey we will post a weekly reading list which amplifies the voices of those speaking both to the factual truth and emotional weight of living as an ethnic minority in a white-privileged world. The list of course is not an end in itself; we invite you to read the books and share your reflections with us at The Chobham Magazine.
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi
White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo
So you want to talk about race, Ijeoma Oluo
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge
Black and British: A Forgotten History, David Olusoga