Author Reni Eddo-Lodge Explains Why She Is Disappointed That She Is the First Black British Author to Top UK Book Charts

Bloomsbury

Reni Eddo-Lodge’s non-fiction book Why I’m No longer Talking to White People About Race rose to the number one spot in the UK’s official book charts last week, making her the first black British author to top the charts. 

Eddo-Lodge’s book was published in 2017, but recent events have increased interest in her book. Eddo-Lodge took to social media to encourage people to donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund and to explain how this achievement is long overdue for black authors. 

“Can’t help but be dismayed by this – the tragic circumstances in which this achievement came about,” Eddo-Lodge said on Twitter. “The fact that it’s 2020 and I’m the first. Let’s be honest. Reader demand aside, that it took this long is a horrible indictment of the publishing industry.”

Eddo-Lodge took to Instagram to explain that her “emotions are conflicted at this time.” She explained that celebrating this achievement doesn’t feel right because not only were there so many incredible black British authors who came before her, but also that it took a viral video of a man being murdered for her book to be noticed.

“I can’t just uncritically celebrate breaking a barrier without asking why the hell the barriers were there in the first place,” said Eddo-Lodge on an Instagram post. “It pains me to be the first, to know that the present is still history, that we are making it, with our hands, right now. To know that injustice won’t be uprooted unless we throw ourselves and everything we have against it. To know that people in the past put their lives on the line and that the work still isn’t’ finished. That white society had to watch a man have the life squeezed out of him in order to wake up to black humanity.”

 

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I want to elaborate on why I’m ‘dismayed’ at what many perceive to be an historic achievement. I understand why some of you might consider my reaction to this news to be unduly negative. But I can’t just uncritically celebrate breaking a barrier without asking why the hell the barriers were there in the first place. It pains me to be the first, to know that the present is still history, that we are making it, with our hands, right now. To know that injustice won’t be uprooted unless we throw ourselves and everything we have against it. To know that people in the past put their lives on the line and that the work still isn’t finished. That white society had to watch a man have the life squeezed out of him in order to wake up to black humanity. My emotions are conflicted at this time. If Angela Davis is feeling hopeful about this moment, then so will I…but I can’t stop being distressed about injustice just because I’m having individual success.

A post shared by Reni Eddo-Lodge (@renieddolodge) on

Eddo-Lodge asks that everyone who wants to read her book match the cost of it and donate that amount to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, and she personally donated $1,000. 

“If you’re going to buy a copy, please order from your local independent bookshop (let’s keep them going during this pandemic) and also donate to your local and national racial justice organizations, if you can spare the funds,” Eddo-Lodge said on Twitter.

Follow @renieddolodge on Instagram and @renireni on Twitter to keep up with her latest projects, and donate to Minnesota Freedom Fund at minnesotafreedomfund.org.