We Need To Talk About Race – by Ben Lindsay

8 02 2022

This was definitely a challenging read, but it felt important to read it.

The book is aimed at all Christians, black and white, congregation member and leader. Each chapter has a question for reflection for each perspective, which helps process what you’ve just read.

It also has two interludes, one of which was women of colour sharing their stories of what they’ve experienced in church, the real-life examples were pretty hard hitting.

As he acknowledges in the book, a lot of white people, myself included, are scared of talking about race for fear of saying the wrong thing, so really what I’ve put below is just a few bits from pages where I turned the corner down, it doesn’t flow, but I think that reflects that I’m still processing what I’ve read. Even now, I’m scared I’ve said something wrong somewhere in this post, my sincere apologies if this is the case.

  • The black majority church has been growing, partly because people of colour have not felt included in white churches, and so we’ve become a much more segregated church overall, which is not how it was meant to be.
  • Early on he listed a load of privileges white people have that they don’t even realise, which was helpful to give something practical to think about.
  • He talks about the differences between churches being diverse, and churches being inclusive – so often the focus is diversity, but this reminded us that this isn’t the ultimate aim.
  • The importance of acknowledging the churches part in the start of the slave trade, and not just the abolitionists.
  • Is the churches approach to social action more about pulling people from the river than seeing why they’re falling in in the first place?
  • Distinguishing between Social Welfare – serving practical needs of the community, and Social Justice – campaigning and advocacy, addressing what left the community in that state to start with.

And then a line that just stood out to me as something to apply far more widely in life: “Forgiveness without progress is hard. This is not to say we should not forgive.”

I definitely feel this book increased my awareness, and I’ll be recommending it to my Pastor. I want to dig out an article it recommends called “100 ways white people can make life less frustrating for people of colour” by Kesiena Boom, as I’m a person who works well off specific examples. As a Christian in a very white church, and has always attended very white churches, I would recommend this to other white Christians too.





Queenie – by Candice Carty-Williams

9 11 2020

Another of the books I picked up over the summer from recommended reading around the Black Lives Matter movement. This book is fiction, which I find easier to read, so thought I’d give it a go. Queenie is a 25 year old of Jamaican descent living in London; she and her boyfriend are ‘on a break’ and she’s not taking it that well.

I guess it was a decent book, but I only gave it 3 stars on Goodreads. This was really because (more in the first half of the book), there are several sex scenes that were just a bit more detailed than they needed to be, particularly one that was violent. It really got me thinking about how books don’t have ratings in the same way DVDs do – seeing this book cover on the shelf, there’s no indication as to what age it would be suitable for. That part of it did calm down and then the book did cover mental health issues in a really helpful way, though again for some, reading it without a heads up could be difficult! I know on my friend Ceri’s BookTube channel she will always share content warnings, and I think this is such a helpful idea, but would be so much better if it was on book covers.

None of this makes it a bad book, I think the mental health stuff that was included was important, and even some of the stuff the character went through in the sex, but that aspect could have been done without being described as graphically as it was in places, that’s all.

Ultimately it’s giving you perspective of life of a young black woman in London, and some of the trials that come with that, that from a position of white privilege, we may never have even considered. I really enjoyed her relationship with her friends and family. It’s not primarily a mental health book, that’s just one element of it, but I was reading this after a (much more minor) blip, and so some of it really resonated, particularly the support she had around her.

I heard someone describe her as a bit of a Bridget Jones character, and I guess she does have some things in common with her, but it has a pretty different feel about it than that.

I will leave you, as I often do, with some of my favourite quotes (and yes they’re mostly mental health related, but just ‘cos they’re the bits that stood out to me!):

  • “So what if something is wrong with you? There’s something wrong with al of us.”
  • “I think that we all need to scrap this idea that normality is something to strive towards. I personally cannot pinpoint or prescribe what it is to be normal.”
  • “Thank you for being my friend, even though I didn’t make it easy.”
  • “As for the anxiety, and the head feeling weird and then the stomach following, even if you do go back to how things were, you made it out before, you’ll make it out again.”





The Color Purple – by Alice Walker

14 06 2020

One of the key things I’ve got out of the BLM awareness the last couple of weeks is the need to educate ourselves better. There have been various books recommended, and this was on a fiction list I saw early on (which I can’t find anymore), and it had been sat on my shelf for a long time, and so it seemed a very sensible time to pick it up.

The book is written as letters, initially from the main character, Celie, to God, (though later on this varies a bit and includes letters to and from her sister). Through these letters she essentially tells us the story of her life as a black woman in the American Deep South between the world wars, and of those around her.

It’s not been the easiest book to read, but for a broad variety of reasons:

  • Because she’s talking to God, there’s a lot of assumed knowledge! She talks about people without explaining who they are, and it takes a fair bit of focus to work out what she’s on about at times, particularly at the beginning when everyone she talks about it new to you.
  • No quote marks for dialogue!
  • When Celie is writing (so, for most of the book), it’s written in the dialect she spoke in, the author has referred to this as “black folk language.” It very quickly becomes normal, but was a bit of an adjustment at the start.
  • Time seems to move along without explicitly telling us. By the end of the book I’d say 30-40 years have passed, but it’s not at all easy to see this happen. Someone might refer to how they now have three more children than when you last saw them, or that someone you thought was a kid is nearly as tall as the adults. Hard to keep track of so I just sort of let it happen!
    A quote which just felt so true of life, especially right now: “Time moves slowly, but passes quickly.”
  • Finally, some of the actual content is upsetting, and could be triggering for some. On page one alone, Celie, aged 14 is violently raped by her Pa.