Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging: Afua Hirsch delivers the fourth 2018 Coleridge Lecture, offering a personal exploration of British identity.

Afua Hirsch

Image credit: Francesco Guidicini

This blog provides background material for the event, which takes place on 24 April 2018.

Reviews of Brit(ish)

The Guardian: Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch review – everyday racism and a search for identity – Colin Grant 18 January 2018

The book’s critique of the vicissitudes of black life calls to mind one of its more potent precursors, Paul Gilroy’s There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack. Thirty years on from that academic work, it’s a depressing indication of continued British prejudice that Hirsch tells – with justified anger – similar tales of the miseducation of black boys and attempts to degrade black female sexuality.

The Observer: Brit(ish) review – what does it mean to be black and British now? – Nikesh Shukla 29 January 2018

Hirsch’s writing is a warm, informative and occasionally heart-wrenching blend of the personal and the political, and the messiness in between the two. Mixing memoir and research, she explores the root of her identity, trying to reconcile Britain’s past with its present.

Arts Desk: Afua Hirsch: Brit(ish) review – essential reading on identity – Mariana Vaizey 4 February 2018

This is an utterly fascinating book on important aspects of contemporary Britain, based on personal experience, historical analysis and study of popular perceptions, some of them bordering on the tabloid-fed lunacy. This meditation on the state of the nation is essential reading for anyone interested in how Britain’s imperial past is playing out in the Britain of today.

The Independent: BRIT(ish) by Afua Hirsch, review: ‘unflinching’ – Sarah Hughes 8 February 2018

To those of us who swan easily through life, our place in it never questioned, Hirsch’s book is both sharp rejoinder and necessary wake-up call.

Articles by Afua Hirsch

The Guardian: I’ve had enough of white people who try to deny my experience – 24 January 2018

It’s fascinating when white people, who invariably have no personal experience of the frequent othering and subtle prejudice that comes from being born or raised in a country that does not recognise your unconditional right to its identity, tell you what you have and have not experienced.

The Guardian: ‘As a black woman I’m always fetishised’: racism in the bedroom – 13 January 2018

I remember this suspicion as a teenager, feeling that white boys and men, for whom I was often the first black woman they had ever met, did not see me, but whatever it was that they were projecting on to my blackness: I was exotic, freaky, strong, supernatural. It’s an experience that has transcended generations.

The Guardian: Memo to Theresa May: yet another report won’t fix race inequality – 3 October 2017

I have now made it into my mid-30s hearing the same message delivered with consistent repetition and clarity, only to be largely ignored by each successive government. Reveal the extent of the problem, confront it honestly, and change it. Recognise that doing nothing is not a neutral act. Nor is simply commissioning more reports.