Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Holding Myself to Account

Way back in June, following a series of killings of unarmed Black Americans and the Black Lives Matter protests that took place all around the world, I made a pledge that once a month I would buy and read a book by a Black and/or Asian author in order to educate myself and hopefully make a positive change in the way I knew best. 

How did I do? Well, in June I started reading David Olusoga's Black and British: A Forgotten History. A confession: I am still reading it. It's so well written that it's the one book I feel guilty for not finishing but as well as being very erudite, it's also a dense and chewy read. I can't whip through at my usual speed, I need to give it the time it deserves, so I am, a few pages at a time, alternately grieving and furious over the stories told, regularly picking my jaw up as I go.

July was Lemn Sissay's My Name is Why, which I talked about in my July reading round up. I'm still taken aback by the grace and forgiveness Sissay demonstrates at every turn of his fate. 

This month, I have read Atul Gawande's Being Mortal (oh my, that book!) and have treated myself to Samin Nosrat's Salt Fat Acid Heat. I also have Bernadine Evaristo's Girl Woman Other, which I'm hugely looking forward to.

After that, I have a list of authors I want to read: Children of Blood and Bone, Negroland, The Wife's Tale for starters. 

How do I think I'm doing? Probably not well enough but it is a start. I am still reading Toni Morrison's Mouth Full of Blood, which like the Olusoga, is a dense read. She was so fiercely intelligent that I feel almost humbled to read her and again, I feel it needs more than my usual cracking pace. A few pages at a time and the pause for reflection. 

Pausing for reflection is always good. Certainly better than screaming into the void. 

 And practically? Plans are afoot to incorporate diverse stories into new museum displays, not just women but examining trade routes and the roads our foods travelled to reach us. And we're working with Don't Settle, an initiative that brings young people of colour into museums to challenge rhetoric and create sustainable change. I'm hugely excited about both these activities. I can't bring people back to life or change historical events, but I can damn well make changes for a better future. 

All it takes is a willingness to be vulnerable. To allow others to rise.

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