by Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi
Written by two black women about their experiences attending a mostly white, privileged university.
It starts with a list of names of women and their accomplishments, who are the women they interviewed for the book to portray experience beyond just the two authors. The authors then explain a little about their respective backgrounds and how they came to be accepted in a Cambridge university.
The intent of the book is to shed light on the experience of what it's like to be a black woman in a traditionally white male setting. They include people who identify as non-binary, which made me wonder, why not black males? Surely they would share many of the experiences of racism and cultural division? This is actually addressed later in the book.
I chose to read this book because although I grew up in a multi-cultural city and have always had friends of whatever race they happen to be, including mixed, I know enough to know that I can never really know their experience. Reading their stories is as close as I can get to understanding.
This book is brilliantly written in that it relates those experiences without the sort of anger often expressed around racism. The authors let you get inside their heads and see through their eyes in a sort of memoir style, opening up their emotions for the readers in a way I found very brave.
The irony is that what made me feel a separation from these women wasn't race, but their ability to get into a top university. I appreciated how hard they must have worked to get those top grades that made it possible. Suddenly my own school career looks like a wasted opportunity. The stress of dealing with university pressure sounded like a nightmare, but add to it that they felt out of place and had no choice but to continually define themselves by their race and feelings of impostor syndrome.
It was interesting to read why they felt compelled to participate in activism and why they sought out others of their race for a support system, even when they didn't always like the individuals. It explained why in school I noticed that people I was friendly with in classes spent their break times among other black groups rather than mixing in more.
I think this book would be a real benefit to any young black girl in school with aspirations to go to a good university as it encourages them to see that it can be accomplished and where the pitfalls can be found, but I also think the book is useful to anyone of any age or race for the perspective it brings.