‘Black people are like white people; they are shaped as much by their nationality as by their race, by their local environment as much by the colour of their skin.’ – Tomiwa Owolade
Tomiwa Owolade is a rising star of literary and cultural criticism in the UK. On August 1 he comes to Intelligence Squared where he will talk about his first book This Is Not America. In conversation with commentator Inaya Folarin Iman, he will argue that too much of the debate around race in Britain today is viewed through the prism of American ideas and history that don’t reflect the challenges and achievements of the increasingly diverse Black British population.
While acknowledging that the murder of George Floyd in 2020 led to a necessary racial reckoning worldwide, Owolade will argue that Britain has been too ready to follow the lead of America. He will urge us instead to understand that there are crucial differences between Britain and America, and that our communities and cultures are distinguished by language, history, class, religion and national origin. Arguing that both the reactionary right and the progressive left get race in Britain wrong, he will set out a bold new framework for understanding race in Britain today.
‘A calm and insightful voice in an often overheated debate.’ ― Kenan Malik
‘Eloquent and insightful.’ ― Remi Adekoya
‘Subtle, subversive and compassionate, this is a book not just for black Britons but for all Britons interested in the evolving character of our national identity, and who want to feel optimistic about it.’ ― Tom Holland
‘An outstanding achievement… This is Not America is a deeply researched, passionately argued and original contribution to one of the most important debates in modern Britain. I admired it immensely.’ ― Dr Amanda Foreman
‘Tomiwa Owolade navigates questions of race and identity in British politics with a rare combination of subtlety, clarity and moral urgency. Powered by historical scholarship, This is Not America steers a course of cool intellectual rigour through a debate that is too often polarised and polemical.’ ― Rafael Behr