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  • Writer's pictureMarama Alliance UK

The Clapback by Elijah Lawal

Elijah Lawal deserves a round of applause (lots of clapping) for this well written and well-researched book on a topic that is so relevant and imperative today. This book is educational and equally funny. It is easy to read but I wanted to digest the information so I didn't rush through it. I shared a lot of what I read with my family over meals, it makes good conversation starters. I credit him for doing his homework, presenting the evidence in all its finest to reveal that racism is still alive and thriving today!

Personally, the chapters on immigration, work and identity reflected my own experience. I didn't feel that being an ethnic minority was a big deal until I started my new life in the UK over 15 years ago. I have been asked about my English speaking skills, where I am from originally, my level of education and God forbid, what am I doing here? I have been told outright that I was the 'diversity' hire once, I have been a victim of xenophobia where I was told that my ethnic minority group are taking away jobs from the white British and draining the economy's resources. That comment blew my mind! I have also attended meetings where I am the only non-white female member but told to sit in the back. Of course I sat at the table and ignored the glaring eyes.

In my defence to Xenophobia, I pointed out that our Pacific Island states have accommodated a rising number of expats who enjoy a generous remuneration package with all the benefits that the local host has to offer yet fail to train a local counterpart and show no intention to return to their own country. Lawal points out that expats are also immigrants, so 'high 5' to him. It’s sad that people behave this way or feel threatened by our contribution to society.

An interesting insight is that of first generation immigrants, and a useful one for immigrant parents regarding how our children think of themselves as British because they were born here. And they're sometimes caught between two parallel universes (or cultures), theirs and their parents. The author shares his experiences in a heart-warming way; the values of his upbringing are embedded in his adult life. His parents must be proud of him and how he portrayed them in his book. But he also spends his time trying to educate his white British friends and colleagues on some of the lessons in his book.

Some of the statistics is shocking. For instance, 52% of White Americans believe that discrimination against them is on par to the BAME community! And this popularising phrase ‘I don’t see colour’ to suggest that they’re not racist and that its everyone’s desire to be treated equally is not the point here. "It’s the failure to acknowledge the plight of minorities and how they have suffered and continued to do so today."

There are so many golden nugget ‘takeaways’ from his book, #blacklivesmatter vs #alllivesmatter is such a clever ‘clapback’ that I will treasure for future reference. Did you know that the remittances immigrants send to their country of origin are higher than the foreign aid that that country sends? And yet we are deemed to be draining resources but saving our host country money in foreign aid. This book is really a ‘wake up’ call for everyone. Its not only about raising awareness around stereotypical comments that is hurtful and racist in nature no matter the context but also for increasing empathy around these issues that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people face on a daily basis.

The responsibility lies with each and everyone of us to be the change and to speak our truths, in order to improve things for everyone, by addressing gender inequality or the issues the LGBTQ community face, because 'a rising tide raises all boats'.

I hope you enjoyed reading this book as much as we did. Our Shared Shelf Book Club invite you to share some of your own experiences here, or how you spoke out your truth. It could help strengthen our resolve and commitment to making our lived experiences a happy one.

Book Review Written by Leonora Sinclair (MAUK Committee Member). Also visit for Miriama' Suraki's own take on the book and share the love there!

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