In light of the Black Lives Matter Movement many people are taking it upon themselves to read, educate and inform others on the racial inequality the black community faces. As part of education, many books have been highlighted as great starting points to gain an understanding of a deeper view of racial inequality. Reni Eddo-Lodge titled “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” has made history reaching a landmark point for black authors, topping the UK official book charts.
Social media has played a significant role in sharing books that are incredible at explaining the structural and systematic racism that continues around the world. Reading recommendations have included authors such as James Baldwin, Angela Davis and Frantz Fanon however Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book seems to be the most popular with readers.
In the week of the 13th June, Reni’s book topped Nielsen BookScan’s UK top 50. She has become the first black author to achieve the top place in the charts since Nielsen began recording book sales in 2001. Prior to Reni taking the top spot, the only black author to have taken the top place in the UK book charts is US former first lady Michelle Obama with her memoir titled Becoming.
Reni Eddo-Lodge explained her excitement of this achievement on Twitter“Feels absolutely wild to have broken this record. My work stands on the shoulders of so many Black British literary giants – Bernadine Evaristo, Benjamin Zephaniah, Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy, Stella Dadzie, Stuart Hall, Linton K Johnson, Jackie Kay, Gary Younge – to name a few.”
‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ was first published in 2017 however the conversation began on Reni’s blog in 2014. In this blog she explained to her readers why she would not use her knowledge and intellectual ability to talk to white people about race because they “refuse to accept the legitimacy of structural racism and its symptoms”.
The book explores the link between gender, class and race in Britain and other locations around the world. Reni explains structural racism in detail and the white privilege that many people especially in Britain refuse to recognize. It is a sad fact that it has taken until 2020 for a black British author to reach the top of the charts in the UK, however from this it is evident that racial inequality is still present in many industries.
As Reni’s book has become so popular, readers are intrigued to find out more about the author herself. Reni is a 30-year-old author from London who’s writing predominantly focuses on feminism and structural racism. Reni graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in 2011 where she studied English Literature. After leaving university Reni worked as a freelance journalist writing for The Independent, The New York Times and VICE.
Her interest in feminism deepened whilst at university, when she read Simone De Beauvour book titled the Second Sex that explains the treatment of woman throughout history, a topic she covers in her podcast.
Her accompanying podcast to her book titled ‘About Race’ is where she explains more about her childhood and university years. It is in this podcast Reni highlights that it was her time at university that made her realize the extent of black community racism in the UK. The podcast launched in March 2018 and was named one of the best podcasts of the year by British GQ and Wired.
Even though this achievement for Reni Eddo-Lodge as an author is unforgettable, it cannot be ignored that this result was achieved due to the need of a movement by the black community. As the Guardian reports, Reni wrote “Can’t help but be dismayed by this – the tragic circumstances in which this achievement came about,” she continued “The fact that it’s 2020 and I’m the first.”
Many other black authors have benefited from great achievements due to the need for people to become educated about the racial inequality in the world. Recently, Akala’s Natives was in 4th place, Layla F Saad’s Me and White Supremacy was in 5thand Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker Novel Girl, Women, Other was in 6th.
Reni emphasizes the need to continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement as she does not want to personally benefit from the sales of her book whilst the movement stands still. The Black Writers Guild, a body of individuals calling for change in the publishing industry has called major UK publishers to publicly share the number of black staff they have and the number of black authors they have published.
In support of Reni topping the charts, it is hoped more major publishers will see the talent that needs to be recognized in the black community of authors.