I’m starting a new occasional blog series with this post, which was stimulated by something I recently read in Daniel Hill’s challenging book White Awake: An Honest Look At What It Means to be WhiteHill describes an important conversation with an African American whom he had asked to be his mentor. The mentor asked him to identify who influenced his life:

To simplify, he organized the exercise around four groups of voices: my closest friends, the mentors I looked to for guidance, the preachers/teachers/theologians I relied on for spiritual guidance, and the authors of the books I was reading. The instructions were simple: 1/ Comprehensively list them. 2/ Take note of the cultural backgrounds they represented​

Daniel Hill (White Awake, p6) Tweet

So, I’ve tried to do just that. Some of those in the posts to come are people I have admired for a long time; others are those I’ve encountered just in the last few days.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story

I was put onto Chimamanda Adichie‘s novels by my daughter Zanna, who is a huge fan. Her prose is a delight and her narratives fascinating.

Here speaks at a TED event in Oxford. I’ve watched it several times and it’s superb.

Lecrae: Heroes and Villains in Hip-Hop

Lecrae is known as a multi-talented Christian hip-hop musician. But he wears his faith lightly in this talk. Heroes and Villains is simply brilliant. He covers a vast range within a very short space, on literature, African American experiences and the history of hip-hop. It’s masterly.

Daryl Davis: Why he attends Ku Klux Klan rallies

This talk was a surprise. I know little about Daryl Davis apart from what he says in this talk. It just popped up in the YouTube sidebar as a suggested link.

It undoubtedly deserves a few minutes’ time.

Baratunde Thurston: Deconstructing racism (2019)

Baratunde Thurston is a brilliant commentator and comedian. This talk also came up in my YouTube feed. He’s very challenging indeed…

America insists on reminding me what it means to be black in America.

Afua Hirsch: Our Identity (2015)

I’ve seen Afua Hirsch on TV a number of times and then about 18 months ago went to a debate in London on ‘Pulling down statutes’ (rather relevant this week) in which she and David Olusoga were arguing strongly in favour of removing those with a less than positive reputation today.

I didn’t always agree with her, but was very impressed. And in this talk, she’s on great form.

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