“There was a rhyme my mother has told me at home which always confused me: ‘sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me’. Names did hurt though. The words did hurt. They hurt deep inside my chest. They hurt inside my head. They hurt inside my heart.”— Maxine Beneba Clarke
With the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement throughout the globe, I wanted to talk about one of the books written by a black woman writer that affected me greatly in learning about racial discrimination and racism, particularly against black lives.
“The Hate Race” is a memoir of Maxine Beneba Clarke’s experience growing up black in 1980s Australia. Her father, a British Jamaican academic, and her mother, a British Guyanese actress, moved from England to Australia soon after the White Australia Policy was dismantled in search for a better life, and they were one of the first black middle class families in New South Wales, Australia.
This intense, poignant memoir was incredibly difficult and unsettling to read due to the horrible bullying, discrimination, and casual racism that Maxine had to experience as a brown-skinned child in an all-white environment.
The instances of racism and bullying coming from her schoolmates, teachers, and neighbours that Maxine recounted as part of her childhood memories were painful to read, let alone experience.
Several times I had to pause reading, just to process and reflect, and it made me realise the urgent importance of educating yourself AND your children of racial, ethnic, and religious differences.
I wish I could make everyone read this book, so that they understand the life-breaking effects that racism and bullying have on people’s lives — and be moved to actually put an end to it.
My rating: 4.5/5.