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Bringing Up Race: How to raise a kind child in a prejudiced world

Bringing Up Race is an important book, for all families whatever their race or ethnicity. Racism cuts across all sectors of society – even the Queen will have to grapple with these issues, as great grandmother to a child of mixed ethnicity. It’s for everyone who wants to instil a sense of open-minded inclusivity in their kids, and those who want to discuss difference instead of shying away from tough questions. Uju draws on often shocking personal stories of prejudice along with opinions of experts, influencers and fellow parents to give prescriptive advice making this an invaluable guide.

Click on the cover to read the first few chapters below or for a chance to win a free copy simply head to our Facebook/Twitter page and like and follow our festive post.


Bringing up race


When I was pregnant with Ezra, like any first-time mother, my number-one concern was bringing him into this world alive and healthy. I remember the panic of a slow-kick day, when I’d move around vigorously just to shake my belly awake. Then there were the sleepless nights when Ezra wouldn’t stop scoring ‘top bins’ in my womb. 

From the minute I learned I was pregnant (several cocktails too late), I knew I was having a boy. I knew he would have fat cheeks, like his half-brother, Isaac, and soft hair, like mine. I imagined him running into his father’s arms, squealing with delight. Curling up on my chest to fall asleep. 

The one thing I didn’t think too much about was how racism might affect him. I’m a Black Nigerian woman who grew up in Britain, so I’m no stranger to prejudice. But most of my mental space was taken up with browsing baby catalogues, dreaming about eating soft cheese or counting heartbeats on a monitor. All I wanted was a healthy, happy baby. 

Just before Ezra was born, my husband, Abiye, and I moved back to London after two years living in Lagos. I had my first taste of being treated like the Other again. While Abiye and I were going through prenatal classes, the hospital demanded we provide ‘proof ’ that we were staying in the country. That we weren’t planning to drop sprog and run. We knew that, in spite of our British passports, our Nigerian names had flagged us up as potential health tourists. The hospital threatened us with a large bill if we didn’t off er evidence right away. 

There was some heated back and forth, culminating in my husband firing off a letter outlining his disgust at their treatment of us, and inviting them to look us up in a year’s time. But they never bothered. And we were here to stay. 

Both my sons, now 9 and 13, have grown up in London since birth. They are the smart-mouthed, fun-loving stars of my blog, ‘Babes about Town’, all about raising cool kids in the capital. We find parent-friendly things to do around town, and I share with my audience around the world the cute conversations we have, as well as funny and insightful tales of family life.

One story I shared with my Facebook followers happened after an Arsenal match. The babes are keen footballers and we’d seen an image of striker Pierre Aubameyang standing tall and strong, over a banana skin that had been chucked at him from the stands.

‘What does that even mean?’ my boys wanted to know. 

I sighed. I told them about the use of bananas as a racist symbol directed at Black people. Why some idiots call us monkeys, and how many footballers have had to endure bananas and worse over the years. They were outraged for a moment and then, as kids do, they moved on to something else. But it broke my heart a little.

We are proud to live in London, one of the most diverse and integrated places on earth. However, even in London, you can’t escape the many shades of racism. 

Professor Beverly Tatum, an author and clinical psychologist, describes the eff ects of racism as ‘smog in the air’. You can’t avoid it, because it’s everywhere. In the looks my kids get in certain spaces. The manner in which some people speak to
them. The stuff that goes over their heads. And the stuff that makes them cry, even when they don’t know why.

How do you bring up your kids to be cool, kind and happy when there is so much out there trying to break them down? 

This book is my attempt not necessarily to answer this question definitively, but to consider it with the weight and attention it deserves. For it’s a question that affects us all.

Carry on reading here. You can purchase the book here.

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