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Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space

Derek Owusu

7 Reviews

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Society, Society & culture: general, Social discrimination & inequality

The Good Immigrant meets Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race, SAFE is an anthology of writing by Black British men, edited by Mostly Lit podcast host Derek Owusu.

'It's brave and honest, and not a moment too soon.' Afua Hirsch, Brit(ish)

'[An] outstanding myth-busting book. Everyone should read it.' Bernardine Evaristo

What is the experience of Black men in Britain today? Never has the conversation about racism and inclusion been more important; there is no better time to explore this question and give Black British men a platform to answer it. SAFE: 20 Ways to be a Black Man in Britain Today is that platform. Including essays from top poets, writers, musicians, actors and journalists, this timely and accessible book is in equal parts a celebration, a protest, a call to arms, and a dismantling of the stereotypes surrounding being a Black man. What does it really mean to reclaim and hold space in the landscape of our society?

Where do Black men belong in school, in the media, in their own families, in the conversation about mental health, in the LGBTQ+ community, in grime music - and how can these voices inspire, educate and add to the dialogue of diversity already taking place? Following on from discussions raised by Natives and Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race, this collection takes readers on a rich and varied path to confront and question the position of Black men in Britain today, and shines a light on the way forward.

Contributors: Alex Holmes, Alex Wheatle, Aniefiok 'Neef' Ekpoudom, Courttia Newland, Derek Oppong, Derek Owusu, Gbontwi Anyetei; Jesse Bernard, JJ Bola; Joseph Harker; Jude Yawson; Kenechukwu Obienu; Kobna Holdbrook-Smith; Nels Abbey; Okechukwu Nzelu; Robyn Travis; Stephen Morrison-Burke; Suli Breaks; Symeon Brown; Yomi Sode

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Praise for Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space

  • These essays burn with passion, dismay, pride, and longing. They're a wake-up call, a prayer, a plea, a promise. They say: this is who we are, and this is what you've been missing. - Stephen Kelman, author of Man Booker-shortlisted Pigeon English

  • This is not a book you read, but a book you witness. Derek Owusu has brought together important voices in British culture, authors you can actually feel digging deep into their experiences and sharing things that have not been written before. It's brave and honest, and not a moment too soon. - Afua Hirsch

  • Black men have been reduced to stock one dimensional characters in the public imagination. This collection explodes those myths, exploring the multi-hued textures of Black British masculinity in all its strength, vulnerability and diversity, providing an intimate window into the lives beyond the statistics, the stereotypes and the headlines. Charged with the air of the confessional, I imagine these stories will be the catalyst for many long overdue, and often taboo, conversations. - Emma Dabiri

  • Safe is the literary equivalent of secretly watching a black British male wake up, wash his brutalised body, plaster over his wounds and, with a final grimace, wear the clothes that he will allow the world to see. There is a quality of searing honesty, a revelation of the fears and doubts that haunt the men in this collection (and their like) daily - and a confession of the utter exhaustion of walking through the world bent under the weight of stereotypes. Here, the contributors have found, as Jesse Bernard puts it, 'a safe pocket' to express themselves in, and in so doing, in Courttia Newland's words to 'walk in a straight line and to live'. Safe is a vital book of witness and validation; an important read for everyone, but for young men of certain hues, it contains islands of affirmation that may well save a life or two. - Nii Ayikwei Parkes

  • This is an inspiring collection of essays. There is nothing like reading the thoughts of black men speaking honestly, openly, personally and intellectually. There is nothing like this because it seldom happens. This really is where the revolution starts. Every page of this book breaks down stereotypes of what being a black man is.

  • It is refreshing to read the truth of men expressed as eloquently as they are in these pages. I was inspired. I found hope.

  • This is power stuff my people. There is no holding back here. These might be essays by black British men, but they are relevant to all of us in the diaspora. Hold this book close to you and stay Safe. - Benjamin Zephaniah

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Derek Owusu

Derek Owusu is a writer and poet. He discovered his passion for literature aged 23 - before then, he had never read a book cover-to-cover. It was a revelation that came too late for his university path, so instead of switching course, he snuck into English literature lectures at the University of Manchester.

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