Reading project, week ending 4 Oct 2020

What have I read this week?

Racism Without Racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

This is a nonfiction book about modern (post civil rights era) racism in the United States of America, and the structures that help to keep it intact. It looks at a collection of interview and survey data, and draws conclusions about Black and white Americans’ views on race and discrimination. I found it a little hard going at first but then I really got into it and it was fascinating and also horrifying to see how simple and how effectively these structures work to keep Blacks subordinate and to stop whites from questioning the status quo. I would definitely recommend it, though

© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 27 Sep 2020

What have I read this week?

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala

This is a nonfiction book about the history of race, specifically blackness and whiteness, including the author’s experience growing up black in Britain. I found this really interesting and I definitely learned a lot from it. I would definitely read more books by this author.

Favourite quotes:

The most dramatic example of the revolutionary human capacities of black nationalism comes very early in its history in Haiti where, after the only successful slave revolution in human history, the independent black government made the white Polish and Germans who aided the revolution legally ‘black’ in 1804.18 The revolutionary and oppositional nature of black identity is also part of why so many millions of people racialised as white are inspired by the black culture, music and art in spite of all racist propaganda that they have been exposed to asserting that these people – and thus their culture – are inferior. It’s why John Lennon – great as he was – can never be a symbol of freedom for black people in the way that Bob Marley, Nina Simone or Muhammad Ali are for so many white people.

Back in 2005, future prime minister Gordon Brown let the world know that ‘the days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over’ – leaving us all wondering when those days of apology were. In a 2014 YouGov survey, 59 per cent of Brits declared that they were proud of the empire. The historian Niall Ferguson gloated approvingly on his Twitter, ‘I won’. I’d love to see a similar survey done with only British citizens whose families come from non-white former colonies, and of course the not-quite-whites of Ireland. Wouldn’t the true measure of the British Empire’s supposed benevolence surely be attained by asking the billions of humans that descend from the people it ruled if they remember it so favourably?

A Is For Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup

This is a nonfiction book about some of the poisons used in the novels of Agatha Christie: it discusses the symptoms and how the poison interacts with the body (i.e. how it actually kills), the history of its discovery and use in real crimes, and how accurate Christie is in her use of it. I found it absolutely fascinating, and would read more by this author..
© bardofupton 2020

Writing project, August 2020

This month’s word is colourful, meaning “having intense colour or richly varied colours” or “vivid, rich, or distinctive in character”.

This one is late again, sorry!


Everything’s so bright. I don’t remember it being so bright before. So… vibrant. Mostly what I remember before is a sort of muddy darkness, shades of brown, black and grey. This… colour is new, to me, anyway. I wonder what they’ve done to me this time.

As usual, I can’t move, just see and hear. I have a vague feeling that I used to be able to meet be, not a memory exactly, just a niggling thought that says “it used to be different”.

I wait, because that’s my only option. I try reaching out mentally, but there’s nothing there. I try speaking, but nothing happens. It’s just so much colour, and a low buzzing sound in my ears. Or at least I assume it’s in my ears. I can’t feel anything, but I can see and hear, so I must have eyes and ears, right?

I think I should feel panicked, should struggle to move, should be panting or gasping for breath, but instead there’s nothing but the colours and the noise.

After a long time I hear a voice.

“Can you hear me? Can you hear me?”

I shout yes but no sound emerges.

A second voice speaks.

“It’s no use, I told you. There’s nothing left. Just switch it off.”

“But what if…”

“It’s just a hybrid anyway. It’s already had two lives, if you can call this one living.”

“But what if I could repair it?”

“It’s not worth the effort. There are more important things to spend your time on. Just switch it off.”

I’m screaming and screaming but still not making a sound. And then click! The buzzing goes away, the colours go away, the voices go away, and it’s just me, screaming and screaming, all alone in the silent dark.

© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 6 Sep 2020

What have I read this week?

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

This is a nonfiction book, the story of the author growing up and living and working as a black woman in the United States. I found it really interesting, and sad, and somewhat empowering. I didn’t really resonate with the author’s faith, as I’m not myself a believer, but the book was passionate and inspiring, and I would definitely read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2020