I’ve been thinking about black history month and about amazing black historical figures. Growing up in multicultural London and going to an amazing school with lots of different kinds of people was brilliant. And actually the most amazing thing to happen to me to help me understand about and be really interested in different cultures was my English literature school reading list, selected by my inspiring teacher Ardashir Vakil, when I was 18. We did a term studying black American authors starting with Beloved by Toni Morrison. Oh wow, that book totally blew me away. Completely beautiful, utterly heartbreaking and also very spooky and otherwordly (perfect for a teenager). Toni Morrison paved the way for James Baldwin (one of my all time favourite authors), Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston (I wanted to call my daughter Zora after her because I love her so much), Maya Angelou. And these stories made me want to find more authors of colour and more stories about people and experiences way outside my own. I really hope books like this are on the reading lists for teenagers now and I hope their teachers choose to focus on them because it was a properly mind-expanding experience for me!
I have attached a picture of James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry (African-American playwright and writer) dancing because it’s one of my fave pictures.