"I believe narratives have the power to change the world. Many people think facts change the world. They are wrong.
Facts are simply the ammunition we throw at each other when we argue.
Facts are what we pick and choose to support our view of the world.
But narratives are what frame the way we understand the world. Narratives provide the
structure which we hang our facts on. Narratives are what basically shape our beliefs
That is why Black British literature matters because it gives us new and unique
narratives. Through Black British literature, both fiction and non-fiction, we see the world
through a different lens.
The best Black British literature provides new insights into the lives and perspectives of
Black people living in the United Kingdom. And for that reason it is not simply Black
people that need to read and celebrate Black British literature, we should all be
celebrating and reading Black British literature if we want a better society and country.
Here are some examples of Black British literature I am currently celebrating that I
believe make the world a better place." Marcus Ryder 2021
Ordinary People: Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019
Diana Evans£8.99 £8.54
"In many ways this is the book I have been waiting to read for over twenty years. It is a story of people I feel I know intimately. It is ostensibly about the trials and tribulations of couples when romantic love and lust gives way to everyday life. But it is so much more than this it is in the specific details of Black British life that she reveals the universal and more importantly the humanity of the Black British community which is too often caricatured by guns and drugs or falls into standard tropes of retelling tales about poverty and all consuming racism."
Rainbow Milk: an Observer 2020 Top 10 Debut
Paul Mendez£9.99 £9.49
"When the HMS Windrush arrived at Tilbury Dock on 22 June 1948 marking the start of the modern Black British presence in the UK it carried 1,027 passengers plus two stowaways. The simple law of averages would tell you that many of those people would have been gay, lesbian or bisexual but for decades the stories about the the modern migration of Black people from the Caribbean and Africa to the UK have neglected to tell the naratives of the Black LGBTQ community. This beautiful book embraces the intersectionality of Black British identity and weaves a story spanning generations of the Black presence in the UK."
Think Like a White Man: A Satirical Guide to Conquering the World . . . While Black
III Whytelaw Dr Boule and Nels Abbey£8.99 £8.54
"Think Like a White Man is one of my favourite books of 2020. A satirical self-help book written by the fictional Dr Boulé Whytelaw III it is hard to tell where this book should sit in any book shop: fiction, non-fiction, self-help or even history. At its core is a basic explanation of the concept of white supremacy and ideas of white privilege, but it does so with a lightness of touch and while making you laugh. When Lenny Henry and I decided to curate essays for Black British Lives Matter, Nels Abbey was one of the first people we called!"
Black British Lives Matter: A Clarion Call for Equality
Lenny Henry and Marcus Ryder£16.99 £16.14
Featuring essays from David Olusoga, Dawn Butler MP, Kit de Waal, Kwame Kwei-Armah, and many more. In response to the international outcry at George Floyd's death, Lenny Henry and Marcus Ryder have commissioned this collection of essays to discuss how and why we need to fight for Black lives to matter - not just for Black people but for society as a whole.
Musical Truth: A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 28 Songs
Jeffrey Boakye and Ngadi Smart£12.99 £12.34
"If narratives and Black British literature have the power to change society I think it is fair to say music comes a close second in shaping how we see the world around us. Musical Truth takes 28 songs and explores their personal, political and global impact, while using them to also explain key moments in Black British history. This is a book which helps you fall back in love with songs you have not listened to in years and reveals why they are so important. It almost makes you want you to unsubscribe to your digital music provider, go up in the attic, pull out your old record player and dust off that vinyl."
Access All Areas: The Diversity Manifesto for TV and Beyond
Marcus Ryder and Lenny Henry£7.99 £7.59
"Admittedly a little cheeky to recommend a book that I wrote with Lenny Henry but I am proud of my work and it provided Lenny and I the springboard up to edit Black British Live Matter. Diversity and Inclusion is one of the biggest issues in British society today and is at the faultline of so many of the so-called Culture War debates. The book recounts Lenny Henry’s struggle to increase the appalling low number of Black people, women, disabled people, and people from other under-represented groups in Britains TV and media industry. I provide the science presenting the social theories of why discrimination seems to persist despite all the anti-racism, anti-sexist and liberal rhetoric, Lenny provides the humour to make it a very easy read."
Maybe I Don't Belong Here: A Memoir of Race, Identity, Breakdown and Recovery
David Harewood£20.00 £19.00
"“Double consciousness” is a concept first coined by W. E. B. Du Bois in 1903 his book The Souls of Black Folk and relates to the African American experience of "always looking at one's self through the eyes" of a racist white society and "measuring oneself by the means of a nation that looked back in contempt". In Maybe I Don’t Belong Here award winning Black British actor details the challenges of being a Black British man struggling with the challenges of living in a racist society. The highly personal and touching memoir in my mind sets out the real cost of what “double consciousness” does to the individual, especially as he recounts his experience of mental health issues. An amazing book and potential classic."
What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition
Emma Dabiri£7.99 £7.59
"Emma Dabiri takes the word of the moment; “allyship” coming out of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 and exposes the flaws in the concept. When Lenny Henry and I wrote Access All Areas we finished with a eight point manifesto, central to that was the idea of examining power dynamics between different people, it is a theme that is repeated in many of the essays of Black British Lives Matter. Here Emma Dabiri shows how questions of power are essential to any progress in combating racism and fighting for a more equitable society. An essential read if we are to get past mere platitudes and think Black history is something we can just think about for one month a year. And for that reason a fitting end to my list of recommendations for Black history month."