Blurb: Our stories about identity, about sexuality, about family, about love, about power. About growing up as people of colour.
Title: I Will Not be Erased
Contributors: Yumna Al-Arashi, Samanthi Theminimulle, Nina Dahmani, Niellah Arboine, Sara Jafari, Kuchenga, Layale, Leah Cowan, Candace Lee Camacho, Liv Little, Kemi Alemoru, Kuba Shand-Baptiste, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff and Grace Holliday
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays
This book comprises of a collection of essays written by people of colour about their experiences of growing up and dealing with all that comes with being a teenager.
I want to preface this review by saying that, as a white person, I am quite obviously not the intended audience for this book. However, as a bookseller and blogger I feel as though I should be able to recommend books to those who ask which requires me to read widely. While I cannot personally relate to most of the experiences in this book, it doesn’t stop it from being important or from me learning something.
From a bookseller point of view, having this book on our shelves and being able to recommend it is wonderful. I love that there are increasing numbers of books written by and for people of colour, especially when they focus on that universally tricky time of adolescence. There’s such a lovely diversity in the authors that contributed to this book which means that there’s sure to be at least one essay that everyone will connect to. I particularly appreciated that each of the essays were based on a diary entry from the author’s own childhood/teenage years as it added a really personal touch which helped me connect with the content. There’s a real honesty, strength and warmth in these words that make this book a joy to read. As well as the authors, this book is edited by gal-dem (a magazine produced by young women and non-binary people of colour) with their mission to allow people of all backgrounds to see themselves represented in the media. This is such a joy to see and to eventually be able to recommend to customers who are seeking some representation in the literature that they read.
Additionally, from my perspective as a white person, I still found personal worth in this book. There are essays in the book that offer some universal advice that could be helpful to anyone (for example, being careful if you choose to experiment with recreational drug use, deciding if you’re ready to have sex and identifying as being trans (amongst other things)). As for the essays that were solely focused on being a person of colour, the experiences of the authors serve as a way to remind us all to be kind, to be tolerant and to drive home the importance of standing up for what’s right. Being white has meant that I’ve never experienced racism first-hand but this book really shows there’s always more that we can do as people to put an end to it. Despite not being this book’s target audience, I see nothing wrong in educating yourself on lives that are different to, but just important as, your own.
As for what I disliked about this book, there wasn’t much. The only thing was I would have loved the essays to be longer so we could really step into the author’s shoes and gain an ever deeper understanding of their experiences and take away more advice. However, this really doesn’t take away from the book which in itself is important and educational but just means that I’d love for gal-dem to continue on this path and be able to publish more books of this kind.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, regardless of skin colour as I really believe that we can all learn something from the essays it contains. Supporting gal-dem in their quest to ensure that people can see themselves represented in media is a real must and here’s to hoping this isn’t the only book that they’ll put together!
Have you read this book? What did you think? I’d love to know!