After numerous conversations about this book, I finally took the plunge and read the book. Opening Natives, I had no idea what to expect. The book is a mixture of autobiographical tales as well as historical analysis of race and class not only in the UK but in former colonies as well as America.
The book narrates the origins of white supremacy and its implications in modern society. In a world where racism is still blooming and many individuals are quick to deny its existence, this book provides an informative composition of the root of some of the racism that black people face today in society. Not only does the book talk about racisms as an idea but explores the early the life of Akala and the poverty, racism, and gang violence that he grew up with in North London.
The most heart-breaking aspects of the book was the racist attacks that he faced as a small child of 7 years old during his primary school education by his teachers. Not only was he emotionally abused by racist teachers in the 80s but also physically abused by some of those teachers. One teacher even went so far as to move Akala to a special educations class because the teacher didn’t want Akala in his class. Reading about a 7 year old facing racism by those who were there to educate him but instead made him feel that he was a ‘know it all’ by being smart absolutely broke my heart. I could not believe that there were those who chose to take jobs in education just to treat 7 year olds with such hate and discrimination.
The novel also speaks of the class inequalities that he faced along with his white mother and biracial siblings. At the age of 13, Akala was contributing to his household and there were times he went without food as there was barely any money to pay the bills. Akala makes the argument that class inequality plays an important part in the oppression of a lot of the British population. Akala uses case studies of Ireland and Glasgow to compare crime rates with those of London boroughs to show that class oppression breathe an environment rift with violence and crime.
It is common knowledge to me, as a black women, that many black men are stopped and searched by the police for absolutely no reason. However, Akala’s experiences has beckoned me to have more conversations with the black men in my life about their experiences of stop and search.
This novel was very informative as I was able to learn so much about racism and some of the root causes of it as well as how this impacts different nations in the world. I was able to learn about racism in Brazil as well as add to my knowledge of racism in South Africa. I will give this book a 4 out of five stars as it was not only informative and historical, but it also provided anecdotes from Akala’s own life. Although the chapters were very long and I was not prepared for the amount of information that I received (my fault for not reading the blurb or reviews), I did enjoy the experience of reading the book and would recommend to anyone who wants to further their education on racism in the UK.
Thank you for reading.