Not So Black and White: Kenan Malik & Tomiwa Owolade in conversation

24 May 2023 – 19:00 BST
Writing on the Wall
The Bluecoat
8 School Ln
L1 3BX

Join Kenan Malik and Tomiwa Owolade at WoWFEST as they explore the complex relationship between class and race in modern British society.

About Kenan Malik’s Not So Black and White

Is white privilege real? How racist is the working class? Why has left-wing antisemitism grown? Who benefits most when anti-racists speak in racial terms?

Not So Black and WhiteThe ‘culture wars’ have generated ferocious argument, but little clarity. This book takes the long view, explaining the real origins of ‘race’ in Western thought, and tracing its path from those beginnings in the Enlightenment all the way to our own fractious world. In doing so, leading thinker Kenan Malik upends many assumptions underpinning today’s heated debates around race, culture, whiteness and privilege.

Malik interweaves this history of ideas with a parallel narrative: the story of the modern West’s long, failed struggle to escape ideas of race, leaving us with a world riven by identity politics. Through these accounts, he challenges received wisdom, revealing the forgotten history of a racialised working class, and questioning fashionable concepts like cultural appropriation.

Not So Black and White is both a lucid history rewriting the story of race, and an elegant polemic making an anti-racist case against the politics of identity.

About the speakers

Kenan Malik, a prolific writer, lecturer, and broadcaster, will be discussing his book Not So Black and White, which challenges commonly held beliefs on race and identity politics. Through the lens of history and personal narratives, Malik argues for a better understanding of the racialized working class and a re-evaluation of fashionable concepts like cultural appropriation.

Tomiwa Owolade, an award-winning writer and journalist, will offer a fresh perspective on race in Britain with his book This is Not America. By highlighting crucial differences between British and American societies, Owolade challenges the notion that British race issues can be viewed through an American lens.

The event will be chaired by Madeline Heneghan, Co-director of Writing on the Wall. With her extensive experience in community engagement and diversity, Madeline will guide us through this discussion, which is sure to challenge our perspectives on race and class. 

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