We Need to Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba
|We Need to Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba|
|Category: Politics and Society|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An eye-opening look at the position of young women - and particularly young Black women in society. It's brilliantly readable and frightening when you realise what we, as a society, are losing. A book everyone should read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: July 2021|
|Publisher: Fourth Estate|
|External links: Author's website|
To be a dark-skinned Black woman is to be seen as less desirable, less hireable, less intelligent and ultimately less valuable than my light-skinned counterparts... We Need to Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba
0.7% of English Literature GCSE students in England study a book by a writer of colour while only 7% study a book by a woman. The Bookseller 29 June 2021
Otegha Uwagba came to the UK from Kenya when she was five years old. Her sisters were seven and nine. It was her mother who came first, with her father joining them later. The family was hard-working, principled and determined that their children would have the best education possible. There was always a painful awareness of money although this did not translate into a shortage of anything: it was simply carefully harvested. When Otegha was ten the family acquired a car. For Otegha, education meant a scholarship to a private school in London and then a place at New College, Oxford.
In 2020, only 3% of students admitted to Oxford were Black and casual misogyny and sexism were endemic. On graduation, Uwagba would discover ever wider divides. The children of the rich were able to take on six-month unpaid internships: those without such financial backing had to find employment. She would find similar divides when she came to look for a flat to buy: years of scrimping and saving seemed to lead to more and more disappointment: those who could rely on 'the bank of mum and dad' otherwise known as family money were buying properties outright without a mortgage - and then moving on to their second million pound plus property.
The greatest divide is not apparently between white and Black people but between those described as 'paper bag blacks' and darker Black people. Do you remember those brown paper bags which you used to get in grocery stores? Well if you're skin colour is as light as - or lighten then - one of those brown paper bags then you probably won't be discriminated against. If your skin is darker, then you almost certainly will encounter casual but regular discrimination.
Uwagba is occasionally infuriated by the treatment which she and other black people receive - and who wouldn't be - but the book is not a pity party. It's a measured statement of the situation, ably supported by endnotes and logical reasoning. In many ways, this makes it all the more frightening: this isn't a rant that you can dismiss as being 'unbalanced'. It's a measured statement of exactly what we as a society are losing when we fail to help young Black women to flourish. It's a warning of the trouble which we are storing up for ourselves, culturally, socially and financially.
It is a brilliant read: Uwagba has the ability to establish a situation in very few words. She doesn't lecture us but allows us to draw our own conclusions. It's probably one of the most frightening books I've read this year and certainly one of the best. I'd like to thank the publishers for allowing Bookbag to have a review copy.
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Everywoman: One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips
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