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

4.62  ·  Rating details ·  911 ratings  ·  100 reviews
'My book of the year. It's personal, historical, political, and it speaks to where we are now. This is the book I've been waiting for - for years' Benjamin Zephaniah
'A potent combination of autobiography and political history which holds up a mirror to contemporary Britain' Independent
'A history lesson of the kind you should get in school, but don't' Stylist
'Powerful ... T
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 17th 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton General Division
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4.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  911 ratings  ·  100 reviews

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Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First things first, I didn’t know anything about this guy before the book was recommended to me by Mimi. I got most of the way through before it even occurred to me he might be somebody. Today, after writing most of this, I thought I had better listen to some of his music. I can’t help it, I find rap just too repetitive and it all sounds too angry to me. One of the songs I listened to I literally couldn’t understand what was being said at all. I’m not the audience for his music, I accept that.

Asim Qureshi
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is incredible how much knowledge Akala draws on to develop a very personal and compelling argument about race in the world today. It is not just about the story he tells, but the way he tells it. His humour, wit and sardonic tone throughout make this a very easy and engaging book to go through, even making me laugh out loud at times despite its dark subject matter. A must read for all.
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I first came across Akala via this awesome track: Comedy, Tragedy, History, a wonderful twist on Shakespeare. Then I came across a review of ‘Natives’ in the Guardian (of course) and was immediately intrigued. This book is a moving account of growing up mixed-race in Britain and an incisive account of racism’s history in America and Europe which also asks wider questions about class, historiography, and politics. I learned a lot from it, notably about Cuba’s role in the fall of South African apa ...more
“I was not born with an opinion of the world but it clearly seemed that the world had an opinion of people like me. I did not know what race and class supposedly were but the world taught me very quickly; and the irrational manifestations of its prejudices forced me to search for answers.”

Many of those answers are explored in this incredibly compelling work; Akala talks about what it means to be mixed race (or BAME) and poor in the U.K., using personal examples from his childhood in the 80s onwa
Carlos Martinez
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
‘Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire’ is at once a memoir, a detailed sociological investigation of racism, and a whistle-stop tour of global politics from London to Beijing, with stops at Johannesburg, Kingston, Havana, Glasgow, New York, Hanoi, Bahia and Harare. We get an engaging and nuanced analysis of several themes, including the state of British culture, the historical function of racial superiority theories, the legacy of colonialism, the pernicious racism that can be found th ...more
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
this was not an easy read, but an important one. I admire most about this book the tangents and the systematic unpicking of all sorts of arguments one hears about the conversations about race, privilege and “equal society”. And not just about Britain but about the reaches of empire and impact of Empire way past its expiry. I found this super interesting, instructing and it taught me a great deal. and I am left with this feeling of hope that this sudden surge of these types of books is not just a ...more
Mark Hebden
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, politics
Knife crime is in the news a lot at the moment, understandably since the victims are all around us in every major city of the UK, the families mourn, the perpetrators get locked up, revenge must be gained and the cycle repeats. Also less mentioned in the news is the story of a teenager called Joy who has been missing since Boxing Day. The former, when such things are reported are portrayed as “black on black” violence while the latter was barely reported and the missing girl happens to be black; ...more
Superb. This should be required reading for at least every white person in the UK in 2018.

Akala dissects British culture and puts it firmly in its place in the world and in history. He mixes this in with accounts of his own life growing up in Camden in the 80s, from the moment he realised his mother was white, to "Linford's lunchbox". He shows us how thoroughly British society disadvantages black people, how it is does it, and why it does it. I couldn't help but be constantly impressed by his r
Nawid Adelyar
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Akala gives a nice overview of his life growing up as a mixed race child and clearly outlines his difficulties in every day life and how that sculpted and shaped his worldview. It is clear that race in the UK does have an impact on our lives and those around us, though many may not realise this.

This book gives a good account of problems concerning race in the UK and mentions some clear historical moments where racism was very evident in society yet nothing was done about it. This continues to ha
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Akala’s measured, in depth exploration of race and class in England is an urgent piece of writing that forces the reader to engage with a litany of institutionalised behaviours that have perpetuated unjust, misleading and damaging attitudes towards race and class. Told through his own personal experiences, combined with an extensive knowledge of world history and politics this eye opening, brilliant, absolute must read will encourage discourse surrounding the points raised long after finishing.
Michael Livingston
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I started off a bit sceptical of this - it seemed like a vaguely political bio that would talk about racial politics via one person's experience. But it's a lot more than that - this is rich with theory, research and history and provides a genuinely radical look at race, politics and class in the UK. Definitely worth a look.
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Scottish-Jamaican rapper Akala explains the layers of race and class issues in modern Britain in layman's terms, fantastically well, and as lived experience. His book is better than getting a PhD in history, politics, and socioeconomics with regards to class and race. And I'm annoyed that I can't find a copy in a library on this side of the Atlantic.

Source: Audible*

*I'll revise this review when I get a copy of the book in my hands. It's currently in transit.
Natives by Akala was an easy, accessible read given the subject matter.
It left me wanting to read more
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Absolute must read for any person currently living in the Western world!

We don’t deserve Akala, he is so on point In articulating some incredibly complex points here in a way no one else could, it manages to be both a personal memoir and a well written thesis, densely packed with (backed up!) information about class and race in Britain (& by extension Australia, USA, and South Africa).

As a white passing person living in Australia, this has provided me with a strong start into gaining a tru
Andrea Tome
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Akala is a genius and this book should be required reading in high schools.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
An absolutely essential read to anyone who is at all interested in British history and sociology, and the effects of macro and micro aggressions on people who are not identified with, by themselves and/or by others, with the white privileged racial classification. I found myself openly gasping at the information provided in this book; enlightening and enraging. This book should be read by everyone and should be on the national curriculum. It is a searingly honest and insightful book, full of fac ...more
Odi Shonga
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
NATIVES: RACE AND CLASS IN THE RUINS OF EMPIRE by Akala is one of a few must-reads for anybody interested in the experience of minorities in the dying embers of the old British Empire. I am a minority living during these final moments, so it proves especially interesting to me. NATIVES is a quasi-memoir-cum-historical treatise, a blend of historical research, philosophical analysis, and personal recollections that results in a profoundly engaging read.

You might find yourself thinking: if this is
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this and have recommended it to so many people. There isn't much written from a Caribbean black British perspective, and there was much to identify with, from the pan- African Saturday school to rememberings of events from the 80s and 90s. Akaka was a lot more woke than me, things he reflected on, like Linford's Lunchbox, I remember, but don't remember giving them anywhere close to his depth of thought. The mixture of history and systemic analysis with his personal reflections a ...more
Rob Adey
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Impressive and effective mix of the personal and the political.
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly engrossing, well-researched, nuanced, and extremely eloquent discussion on race and class in Britain. A must read for every bookshelf.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a really thought-provoking read about the unavoidable influence of history on constructs of race in British society today. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who... actually, I recommend it to everyone. It contains clear insights and an important perspective that anyone living in Britain today will be informed by. However, it’s not a dry sociological analysis. It contains a lot of personal elements about Akala’s life growing up in Camden in the 80s and the whole thesis is well informed ...more
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is jam packed with A LOT of information so if you are looking to read this book I suggest you have a notepad and pen with you. Incidents that occurred early on in his life will shock you, and when he dives into our historical and political past, we get a very clear picture of how race and class shape everyone in society today.

Very educational book that should be read by EVERYONE.
Lisa Edwards
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This should feature on the national curriculum. Brilliant.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m speechless having finished this book. It’s pretty much been my first book of its kind on this topic and something I’ve wanted to dig into and educate myself about for a long time.

By no means do I think of myself as an expert in this field based on just reading this, but I can unequivocally state that I definitely have a clearer understanding of things and with similar experiences I have always felt.

Akala masterfully interweaves his experiences growing up in London with his realisations about
Susan Steed
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had high expectations for this book, and it more than lived up to them. It brings together his own life story with deep insights on race and class in the UK. There are so many things I will look at in totally different ways, for example, reasons for why the legacy of Castro is so different from that of Mandela. It takes us bang up to the present, through Brexit. An absolute must read.

A few quotes I liked:

On everything wrong with the British teaching of history
“No one in my classes was given an
Leon Markham
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listened on audible. Lovely delivery - if you’ve heard Akala speak you’ll know what you’re getting into. It’s partly his personal story growing up black in Britain, partly a historical discourse on the nature of race in European society and those societies which interacted with Europe, and partly a broadly left wing social and economic critique. Reading it was not comfortable for me, and i have to admit I am not sure how I feel about a lot of the topics he raises.

On Akala’s personal story - the
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 stars

For those unfamiliar with Akala, he is an English rapper, and he’s now a published author, poet, and political activist. This year he was awarded an honorary ‘Dr Of The Arts’.

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while, and am very glad I have.

I’ve been listening to Akala’s music for the past ten years and most notably his ‘Fire in the Booth’s’ where he talks about his personal experiences of race in modern Britain; in particular racism within high crime areas in London.

He is extrem
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Akala who is from a mixed-race background (white Scottish mother and black Jamaican father) has written a book that has taught me a lot about the experience of black people mainly in the UK and other parts of the world such as the USA.
Akala who has clearly put a lot of research into the book also tell us of his personal experiences, so that in many ways this is a semi- autobiographical work.
I enjoyed reading the chapter on the ending of slavery which recounts the many struggles by black people t
Nasser Alkhateeb
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
P104 "the master makes himself a slave to his slave by needing that domination to define him"

P136 "power concedes nothing without demand or motive"

This book was an absolute pleasure to read. Akala's engaging style of conveying important concepts powerfully written and backed by history.

The book takes us through the history of British (and other European) colonialism and its effects on both the various communities affected by its white supremacy "we talk about white privilege but we rarely talk
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
L'Europe ne constitue plus le centre de gravité du monde. Tel est en effet l’événement ou, en tout cas, l’expérience fondamentale de notre âge. Achille Mbembe.

Not an easy read. His tone is of anger, and rightly so, at the centuries of white arrogance and marginalisation of black people in Britain. It is certainly evident to me in many a domain, whether corporate or academic, in the streets, films, and even in music. Decolonisation of the curriculum is one way forward, but the people in the posit
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Kingslee James McLean Daley, better known by the stage name Akala, is an English rapper, author, poet, and political activist.

Originally from Kentish Town, London he is the younger brother of rapper/vocalist Ms. Dynamite. In 2006, he was voted the Best Hip Hop Act at the MOBO Awards. He was awarded an honourary doctorate by the University of Brighton in 2018.

In May 2018, Akala published Natives:
“So if the ending of apartheid is now universally agreed to be a good thing, and Cuba played such a central role, how is it still possible to have such differing views of Castro and Mandela and of Cuba and South Africa? The short answer is that the mainstream media has been so successful in distorting basic historical facts that many are so blinded by Cold War hangovers that they are entirely incapable of critical thought, but the other answer is rather more Machiavellian. The reality is that apartheid did not die, and thus the reason so many white conservatives now love Mandela is essentially that he let their cronies "get away with it". The hypocritical worship of black freedom fighters once they are no longer seen to pose a danger or are safely dead - Martin Luther King might be the best example of this - is one of the key ways of maintaining a liberal veneer over what in reality is brutal intent.” 1 likes
“The officer's question already let me know that in his eyes I was dirt; that is, matter out of place.” 0 likes
More quotes…