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Spotlight on: Our Community


Reading is a great way to learn about equality and diversity. Explore this new selection of titles that celebrate our diversity in our community and offer a starting point for exploring the topics of racism, prejudice, diversity and black history.

This month we are highlighting some great new non-fiction on our shelves available to borrow or reserve for free.

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Black British Lives Matter: Clarion Call for Equality by Lenny Henry & Marcus Ryder

In response to the international outcry at George Floyd’s death, Lenny Henry and Marcus Ryder have commissioned this collection of essays to discuss how and why we need to fight for Black lives to matter – not just for Black people but for society as a whole.

Recognising Black British experience within the Black Lives Matter movement, nineteen prominent Black figures explain why Black lives should be celebrated when too often they are undervalued. Drawing from personal experience, they stress how Black British people have unique perspectives and experiences that enrich British society and the world; how Black lives are far more interesting and important than the forces that try to limit it.

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Manifesto on Never Giving Up by Bernardine Evaristo

Bernardine Evaristo’s 2019 Booker Prize win was a historic and revolutionary occasion, with Evaristo being the first Black woman and first Black British person ever to win the prize in its fifty-year history. Girl, Woman, Other was named a favorite book of the year by President Obama and Roxane Gay, was translated into thirty-five languages, and has now reached more than a million readers.

Evaristo’s astonishing nonfiction debut, Manifesto, is a vibrant and inspirational account of Evaristo’s life and career as she rebelled against the mainstream and fought over several decades to bring her creative work into the world. With her characteristic humor, Evaristo describes her childhood as one of eight siblings, with a Nigerian father and white Catholic mother, tells the story of how she helped set up Britain’s first Black women’s theatre company, remembers the queer relationships of her twenties, and recounts her determination to write books that were absent in the literary world around her. She provides a hugely powerful perspective to contemporary conversations around race, class, feminism, sexuality, and aging. She reminds us of how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. In Manifesto, Evaristo charts her theory of unstoppability, showing creative people how they too can visualize and find success in their work, ignoring the naysayers.

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Just Sayin’ My Life in Words by Malorie Blackman

The long-awaited autobiography of one of the world’s greatest children’s writers, and an empowering and inspiring account of a life in books. It is an account of her journey, from a childhood surrounded by words, to the 83 rejection letters she received in response to sending out her first project, to the children’s laureateship.

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The Uncomfortable truth about racism by John Barnes

John Barnes spent the first dozen years of his life in Jamaica before moving to the UK with his family in 1975. Six years later he was a professional footballer, distinguishing himself for Watford, Liverpool and England, and in the process becoming this country’s most prominent black player.

Barnes is now an articulate and captivating social commentator on a broad range of issues, and in The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism he tackles head-on the issues surrounding prejudice with his trademark intelligence and authority.

By vividly evoking his personal experiences, and holding a mirror to this country’s past, present and future, Barnes provides a powerful and moving testimony. The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism will help to inform and advance the global conversation around society’s ongoing battle with the awful stain of prejudice.

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Black England by Gretchen Gerzina

Georgian England had a large distinctive black community. Yet all of them, prosperous citizens or newly freed slaves, ran the risk of kidnap and sale to plantations. Their dramatic, often moving story is told in this book.

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My Hair is Pink Under This Veil by Rabina Khan

Vivid, astute and full of humour, My Hair Is Pink Under This Veil offers a frank appraisal of life in modern Britain as seen through the eyes of a hijab-wearing Muslim woman. Rabina Khan writes with grace about her family’s experiences building a new life in 1970s London before turning her attention to exploring the politics of the veil, white privilege and intersectional feminism. And in depicting her battle to build a successful political career against a backdrop of blame, bias and misogyny – including from her own community – Khan is clear-sighted about the struggles facing Muslim women today.

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The Secret Diary of a British Muslim Aged 13 3/4 by Tez Ilyas

In this suitably dramatic rollercoaster of a teenage memoir, Tez takes us back to where it all began: a working class, insular British Asian Muslim community in his hometown of post-Thatcher Blackburn. Meet Ammi (Mum), Baji Rosey (the older sister), Shibz (the fashionable cousin), Was (the cool cousin), Shiry (the cleverest cousin) and a community with the most creative nicknames this side of Top Gun.

Running away from shotgun-wielding farmers, successfully dodging arranged marriages, getting mugged, having front-row seats to race riots and achieving formative sexual experiences doing stomach crunches in a gym, you could say life was fairly run of the mill. But with a GCSE pass rate of 30 percent at his school, his own fair share of family tragedy around the corner and 9/11 on the horizon, Tez’s experiences of growing up as a British Muslim wasn’t the fun, Jihad-pursuing affair the media wants you to believe. Well…not always.

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My Hidden Race by Anyika Onuora

‘My Hidden Race’ is the story of Olympic medallist Anyika Onuora, who stood on the podium at every major championship in athletics. However, this book won’t go into detail about the technicalities of her sport or the beauty of the Olympic spirit. In the era of Black Lives Matter and Me Too, this is an unflinching testimony of what it takes to pursue your dreams as a Black British woman against all odds.

This three-time Olympian will lift the lid on the reality of life as a Black female athlete in Britain in a way that nobody else has done before her. Nothing is off the record. She is revealing her life for the first time in this book with complete fearlessness.

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The Voice 40 Years of Black British Lives

Launched at the 1982 Notting Hill Carnival, The Voice newspaper captured and addressed a generation figuring out what it meant to be Black and British. Written for and by Black people, the newspaper shone a light on systematic injustices as well as celebrating Black Britain’s success stories. From hard hitting news reports covering the murder of Stephen Lawrence to championing the likes of Sir Lewis Hamilton and Idris Elba, the newspaper has campaigned, celebrated and educated people for the last forty years. The Voice documented everyday life in the community, from the emergence of a Black middle class in the ’90s and the achievements of Black entrepreneurs to how different facets of the community were explored in contemporary music and literature. Told through news reports, editorials and readers’ personal letters, this emotive book documents the social history of Black Britain over the last four decades.

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Build the Damn Thing by Kathryn Finney

‘Build the Damn Thing’ is a battle-tested guide for every entrepreneur who the establishment has excluded. Kathryn Finney, an investor and startup champion, explains how to build a business from the ground up; from developing a business plan to finding investors, growing a team, and refining a product.

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Not Quite White a memoir by Laila Woozeer

Most of us agree that representation matters – but why? Part autobiography, part critical commentary, ‘Not Quite White’ unpacks and examines the unique experience of growing up mixed race in the UK.

What is it like learning from a mother who is privy to a completely different type of privilege than you? When was the first time you realised your boyfriend was dating you to satisfy some weird fetish? How demoralising was it to find out that Princess Jasmine, your sole claim to Disney royalty, was based on a white model?

Part autobiography and part critical commentary, join Laila Woozeer as she blends together stories from her own life, looking specifically at the impact pop culture and media representation has on non-white people and the way they understand themselves, charting a narrative about being mixed race that stems from the 90s until the present day.

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We Go High by Nicole Ellis

Follow the life lessons of 30 remarkable women of colour – past and present – who have made their mark on society and culture. From activists to scientists, artists to sporting icons, each woman’s story is different – but all have in common a deep-seated resilience to fight against the prejudices and barriers to success that women of colour face on a daily basis.

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They by Sarfraz Manzoor

Across Europe, anti-Muslim attitudes have moved from the fringe towards near-acceptability, evidenced in the UK by the comments from Boris Johnson on the niqab and the journey of Tommy Robinson from football thug to advisor to UKIP.

The narrative from both hard-line Muslims and the far right is the same: Muslims and non-Muslims cannot and should not live together, because they are not ‘us’. In ‘They’, acclaimed writer Sarfraz Manzoor provides a powerful and deeply personal exploration of a divided country and of a radical vision for change.

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