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The Hate Race

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  2,576 ratings  ·  305 reviews
'Against anything I had ever been told was possible, I was turning white. On the surface of my skin, a miracle was quietly brewing . . .'

Suburban Australia. Sweltering heat. Three bedroom blonde-brick. Family of five. Beat-up Ford Falcon. Vegemite on toast. Maxine Beneba Clarke's life is just like all the other Aussie kids on her street.

Except for this one, glaring, inesca
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Hachette Australia
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Average rating 4.36  · 
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 ·  2,576 ratings  ·  305 reviews

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Jaclyn Crupi
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Maxine Beneba Clarke and I grew up at the same time and share many childhood experiences: the desire for a REAL Cabbage Patch doll, devouring Baby-Sitters Club books, crushing over Luke Perry, watching Degrassi Junior High. We're both the children of immigrants and were bookish nerdy kids, completely hopeless at sport. But my childhood had a privilege of innocence that she was denied. This book details some of the casual, overt and institutional racism Clarke experienced as a child in Australia ...more
This book is, quite frankly, amazing.
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Every Australian should read this. An insight into the lives of the minorities and the impact of casual racism.
Jun 30, 2020 rated it liked it
I feel really bad only giving this book 3 stars. For the purpose of highlighting racism in Australia and the harrowing effects this book does it’s job. For whatever reason the rest of the book didn’t click for me.

Being almost the exact same age as Maxine growing up in Australia going to public school during the 80’s and 90’s I can attest that the playground was a minefield, I was never personally affected by direct racism (well not to my knowledge) even though I was an extremely shy migrant kid
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
One of the most important books for this nation at this time. It is at times cringeworthy as Maxine shares the blatant and cruel racism she endured, and continues to endure to this day. The stories of well-meaning people whose ignorance caused deep wounds and the importance of creating a new narrative where the voices of all are valued and integrated into Australia's history, no matter how uncomfortable it can make the 'majority'. ...more
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really important book, and although it's situated in Australia, and delivers a particular critique of race relations there, we all have something to learn from it. This memoir is equally heartbreaking and powerful, as it details the impact of repeated moments of casual racism, inflicted on one child in Australia in the '80s and '90s. I was most disturbed by the behaviour of adults, in positions of power, protection and acting as role models, who dismissed the racism of children as teas ...more
Banafsheh Serov
Aug 02, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm rather conflicted about this book. I live just a few suburbs away from Maxine. I arrived here in my teens, having been through a revolution, war and a harrowing escape from Iran.

Even as a migrant teenager with dark features and an accent, I don't believe I experienced the level of casual racism that Maxine did.

Maybe having gone through so much already, I wasn't willing to settle for any bullying. Maybe our growing network of Iranian families who formed the basis of our friends, shielded me
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘If racism is a shortcoming of the heart, then experiencing it is an assault on the mind.’

In this memoir, Maxine Beneba Clarke writes of the racism she has experienced, both as a child and now as an adult. Here in contemporary Australia, a country which prides itself on its multiculturalism, on its acceptance of people of all hues, races and religions from around the world.

It’s a shame that the reality has never really matched the ideal.

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian. Her parents are of
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
Brilliant memoir focused on racism in Australia. Covering Maxine's childhood in Sydney, and book-ended by recent experiences with her own children now she is a mother, The Hate Race is told through the lens of racist incidents and experiences that shaped her life. There are happy memories, but the aim seems to be to show how the cumulative weight of a racist society changes a person. How it shaped what a little girl thought about herself, how the pain of bullying manifested on her skin, how it i ...more
Michael Livingston
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
A powerful and sad book about growing up as a person of colour in modern day Australia. Clarke brilliantly illustrate the constant drip of racism that she was exposed to throughout her school years and emphasises the impacts of the full gamut of prejudice: from the vicious, explicit hate through to the well-meaning (but identity erasing) ignorance. The writing is clear and straightforward, conveying the story without much adornment (besides the semi-regular refrains reminding the reader that the ...more
Kate Walton
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly upsetting and heart-breaking. A book I would recommend to all Australians.
Everyone should read this especially in this escalating hate filled climate

Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me so so many feels. That deep pain in my chest as all those traumatic memories of being one of the only brown kids in the white school came flashing back. It's so much more than this though but still processing! ...more
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am struggling to find the words that truely encompass the effect that this book had on me.

Beautifully written, Maxine Beneba Clarke, confronts her youth growing up in the suburbs of Australia in the early days post-White Australia policy and the deeply ingrained racism that is sewn in the fabric of the land since colonialism.

It's possible that some of the impact that this novel had on me was a result of nostalgia. Maxine starts preschool in '83. Seven years later I would also start preschool.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reviews
An eye-opening and often heart-rending account of what it is like to grow up black in white middle-class Australia.

To read my review in full, please visit my blog.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up

A very important book, which shows in great detail (through events in Maxine Beneba Clarke's youth) how pervasive racism is in Australia, and how the insidiousness of it can affect and impact upon a person's life and mentality.

Maxine Beneba Clarke mostly recounts incidents from her school years, and it is upsetting and alarming how all of this didn't happen all that long ago... making one question how frequently these kind of racist comments still happen in schools in Australia tod
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
A powerful memoir about growing up black in Australia in the 80s and 90s. Maxine Beneba Clarke pulls no punches about her experience which, from my white privileged position were shocking and uncomfortable and sad and made me angry. Clarke relents a little in the final two chapters, giving some insight into rising above it and coming to gain some respect in her school, which was nice to readers but detracted ever so slightly from what was otherwise a tightly woven narrative. Still, I will absolu ...more
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
In Maxine Beneba Clarke’s twitter bio, she says “I try to write beautifully, about ugly things.” And that’s precisely what she does.

The Hate Race is a stunning, devastating, and powerful memoir. Clarke tells of her ‘typical’ Australian childhood – there was just one major difference between her and the rest of her classmates – she has brown skin.

The most striking thing about The Hate Race is how similar Clarke and my childhoods were. And also how very, very different.

Clarke and I both new the jo
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've not read any of Maxine's fiction, nor her poetry, I can see I will have to. I picked up this book to read yesterday and began. I left my glasses at school and had to go and buy a pair just so I could continue reading on the train home. I'm appalled (but sadly not surprised) by the treatment of Maxine by her peers and the acceptance of such behaviour by her teachers. This is our country and we can do so much better than this people, Pauline Hanson notwithstanding. And such amazing resilience ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"I wanted to show the extreme toll that casual, overt and institutionalised racism can take: the way it erodes us all."

Like foreign Soil, by the same author, this was a really awful subject - I felt angry, I felt sad, i felt ashamed, I felt like I might vomit - but the writing is so beautiful that I enjoyed it completely. If I could pick one book that everyone had to read to teach us to be kinder to each other this would be it. (There was a big hold queue at my library for this one so get on it
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Yes, this is what growing up in Australia is like. It's no wonder the Australian Government promotes "resilience" when people are this cruel to each other. ...more
Amy Heap
The Hate Race is a thoughtful, nostalgic, confronting, funny, sad, and important book. Maxine Beneba Clarke grew up in Sydney, not too far from where I grew up, in the 90s. Though she is younger than I am, there is so much that is familiar in her childhood, including her feelings of being different , being left out, being made fun of. Her "fault", however, was not being uncool, or failing to meet the current standard of beauty, it was that she is of Afro-Caribbean descent. The racism she experie ...more
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So much of this book resonated with my own experiences of growing up in Australia. The striving to be the smartest and being the devastating third speaker on the debating team but also dealing with the debilitating small-mindedness and large cruelties of the lowest common denominator of "Australianness". That cringe we feel now - post Hanson - when we see an Australian flag is portrayed most authentically in this book. The memoir begins with a truly awful incident of racism and as Maxine Beneba ...more
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book has many personal associations for me. Maxine is the same age as my daughters, she lived, and the book is based, in Kellyville just near where I live and many landmarks like my local library and various other places are mentioned. But there the similarities end. Her school life with its bullying and humiliation was appalling and though my children suffered to an extent, her experiences are something else entirely.
I think many Australians are very uncomfortable with difference, whether
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Th lifelong racism endured by the author in Australia is definitely worthy of examination. However the book focussed too much on cruelties perpetrated by other children - incident after incident of childhood bullying in the 80s & 90s were certainly sad & disturbing, especially when backed up by ignorant & evil adults but somewhat repetitive & unenlightening. I wanted the author to move to the present day & engage with the current racism in our country & provide some insights about how she deals ...more
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
4.5 stars! It's times like this that I really wish Goodreads had that elusive half star rating. This book is so good. It is heartwarming and funny, angry (rightfully so!), heart wrenching and incredibly sad. How she does all of this in a seemingly effortless way is a true mark of a gifted writer. ...more
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Maxine Beneba Clarke is a genius tbh.
Vanessa Funk
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read. It opened my eyes not only to the shocking direct and indirect racism that was and still is part of our culture but also to the realities of growing up in a place where the majority of people don’t look like you and how that can affect a child. Maxine’s stories made me realize the privilege that I have in ways I had never fully considered (and am still processing). Her writing style was beautiful and incorporated details that drew me in to her life.
I am not Australian
In this fine, exceptionally honest but disturbing memoir Maxine Beneba Clarke achieves exactly what she set out to do "... to show the extreme toll that casual, overt and institionalised racism can take: the way it erodes us all". p 257

The examples of racism described by Maxine which so destabilised her young life occurred in suburban Sydney in the 1980s and 1990s; I would like to think that things have changed for the better in the intervening years but I'm not so sure.

The Bookself
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke is one of the most moving accounts of racism in Australia I've read recently. She tells an all too familiar story, which was set around the same time and area I grew up in. These were very similar experiences to my own, which lead to profound realisations of the long and short term effects of racism. Such a great book, well written, poetic and poignant. A stand out book for this year. ...more
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Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian writer and slam poetry champion of Afro-Caribbean descent. She is the author of the poetry collections Gil Scott Heron is on Parole (Picaro Press, 2009) and Nothing Here Needs Fixing (Picaro Press, 2013), the title poem of which won the 2013 Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize.

Her debut short story collection, Foreign Soil, won the 2013 Victorian Premier's Award for a

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“I learned to stay quiet. I learned that nobody much cared. I learned that it was probably my fault anyway, and that what they were doing to me was perfectly okay. This is how it alters us. This is how we change.” 5 likes
“You tell a teacher someone is calling you names. Blackie. Monkey girl. Golliwog. The teacher stares at you, exasperated, as if to say: Do you really expect me to do something about it? The next time you have a grievance, you look for a different teacher.” 1 likes
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