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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

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  2,456 ratings  ·  241 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 ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 17th 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton General Division
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Average rating 4.57  · 
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 ·  2,456 ratings  ·  241 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. ...more
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 apartheid w ...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
Carlos Martinez
‘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
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-bookshelves
This made me sad, it made me angry, it changed the way I think about things and I may have to go back and listen to parts of it again. Akala is coming to Dunedin as part of the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival, I'm a trustee and try to read the books prior to the writers arriving. This was an unexpected read for me. I didn't really know much about Akala prior to him being booked for our festival but I'm so pleased that I have learned some more about this interesting person. He is articulate, ...more
Ruth Elizabeth
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish I had a pocket-sized Akala to whip out whenever I hear someone talking ignorant ****, so that he can drop some knowledge on them!
Mark Hebden
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, history
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
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have had to leave this for a little while before writing any kind of review... so here goes.
Akala is an intelligent, thoughtful and impassioned man who writes brilliantly of his experiences of race and poverty in the UK. As someone who grew up in a poor single parent family in the 1980s, I could certainly recognise many of the elements of this side to his stories. Many of the insights into race relations however were a depressing eye opener to how little we have moved on, his experiences at s
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incisive, nuanced and well-researched. Its point that the British are taught very little about this aspect of our history was demonstrated pretty starkly to me by how much I learned in just 350 pages. This book thoroughly dismantles the sanitised story about the Empire that Britain still clings to, as well as offering some very thought-provoking analysis on Brexit, Trump, and the West's attitude towards China. This is a fascinating read which I'll be thinking about for a long time after finishin ...more
Anna Stephens
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thoughtful, incredible well-researched and politically astute, this is an exemplary analysis of the state of Britain in the 21st century.
I'm a few years older than Akala, and grew up white working class on the outskirts of Birmingham, while he grew up racialised black working-class in the heart of London. To say our experiences are dissimilar is an understatement despite the diversity of my home city. Seeing the same cultural events I grew up with recollected from his experience is more than ey
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
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 con
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
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britain, history
Much is covered in this book, including an extensive history and analysis of the Black experience in Britain (as well as her colonies). Akala uses his own life experiences to show how 'race' and 'class' has been and continues to shape, even in the 21st Century, British society.

This is one of those books I found hard to put down, and I would recommend it to others.
Inderjit Sanghera
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
'Natives' mainly explores the history of Commonwealth citizens in modern Britain, with the primary focus being on those of a African of Afro-Caribbean origin as Akala slowly, patiently, yet quite thoroughly debunks the myths and misconceptions perpetuated by the various institutions, from the police to the education system, which perpetrate the insidious, yet pervasive, form of racism which has dominated the West.

The crux of Akala's argument is that the concept of white supremacy is
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.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a serious book from a quite brilliant man; I listened to the audiobook and, despite my initial misgivings (it wasn't the type of book I'd usually choose) I am incredibly glad to have read - and absorbed - this fine, and serious, work.
Catherine Barter
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh hello, this is really, really good. It's really substantive - there's tons of history - without ever feeling dense. It does such a good job of unpicking the complicated racist legacies of British empire, and the UK's willfully ignorant attitude to this aspect of its own history. And its also great at effortlessly weaving together global politics and history with day to day British life and the author's own upbringing and experiences. I'd put this in every school library. Really recommended.
Roda Mohamed
This is a brilliantly explained mix of an autobiography and an assessment of the way race and classism have intercepted in the modern era. But also does a good job at opening the narrative of how imperialism continues to effect former colonies and how black British idnety is evolving. Honestly recommend it for everyone.

Have loved his music since I was 16 and his eloquence when discussing such important topics surrounding race in a measured and patient manner is something I aspire to achieve. I
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
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book teaches you what they forgot to in history class. The chapters on institutional racism within education and within the police are important reads. My favourite part is when Akala reminds us how the government and police originated: they were put in place for a rich elite to control the poor. Poor people weren't allowed to vote. Rich people didn't(don't) go to prison. 

The exterior of these structures have changed, but their origins can still be seen. Millions of people prote
Natives by Akala was an easy, accessible read given the subject matter.
It left me wanting to read more
Lisa Edwards
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This should feature on the national curriculum. Brilliant.
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.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you're British or interested in Britain, you should read this book. You may not like it all, you may not agree with it all, at times you may be frustrated or even incensed - I certainly was - but you will learn something and you will start to think in a new way about our history and society.

It's not an easy book to categorise; it's part autobiography, part political tract, part historical analysis. It's Akala's intensely personal take on his own experiences as a "racialised Black"
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: society
This is a difficult book to read, if you are white. It forces you to confront with your own prejudices and to dig deep under expressions such as "black-on-black violence" that you most probably have somewhere in your mind as a category to (not) understand the news. Have you aver tried to frame the conflict in Northern Ireland, or the Mafia wars, as "white on white violence"?
Of course, slavery is the beginning of the problems. And of course we all reject slavery (and have celebrated the end of a
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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 publish
“I often look at the world and just think fuck it, why bother, but I know that’s how we are supposed to feel, that’s why the corruption is so naked and freely visible – to wear down people who have the conviction that things could be better.” 1 likes
“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
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