The Hate Race
I'm so glad that I did. This is an important, heart-breaking memoir, sometimes zingingly funny, sometimes painfully sad, the kind of book that leaves feeling winded, like someone snuck up while you weren't looking and punched you in the guts, but because you needed it.
Maxine Beneba Clarke grew up in the Sydney suburbs in the 1990s, daughter of British immigrants who were born in the West Indies, her mother an actress, her father a university mathematician. This is the story of Clarke's Australian childhood, the slow dawning of the realisation that in the eyes of many of her fellow citizens, her skin colour sets her apart -- sometimes perceived as exotic ('where are you from?' 'can you show us some tribal dances?'), but most often as inferior. Clarke's account of the daily, bruising, numbing, casual and deliberate racism she encountered as a child and adolescent (and still encounters) is illuminating (to me) and horrible. It made me feel deeply ashamed, and angry, and sad, because I know things are no better now.
I think this book is being marketed as an adult memoir, but it should be required reading for every teenager too.