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There is a serious problem in education. Over the last few years a number of reports have drawn the same conclusions about a lack of diversity and inclusion in universities, and yet nothing has really changed. Higher education is still a vital springboard to personal and professional success. Yet for many people, university is a distant dream, or an impossibility. And for those that go, it’s an unnecessary struggle. Taking Up Space aims to change that.

Regardless of who you are and where you study, your university years are transformative. They are a first taste of independence, and the beginning of a difficult transition into adulthood. As if this process isn’t challenging enough, navigating higher education as a black girl is a unique experience, especially when you go to one of the whitest universities in the country, the University of Cambridge. Centred around the narratives of two recent Cambridge graduates, and interspersed with their conversations with students past and present, Taking Up Space is a guide and a manifesto for change: tackling the challenges of access, unrepresentative curriculums, discrimination in the classroom, the problems of activism and life before and after university.

Upon the announcement of the book, authors Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi commented: ‘Diversity and inclusion have become buzzwords, especially in education, but it is time that we had honest conversations about what those two words truly mean, especially for young black girls. Through our stories and the experiences of past and present university students, this book seeks to fill the gap of often incomplete conversations about widening participation and inclusion at university. It will be the book that we wish we had before going into university and we hope it provides a comfort to those who will inevitably share our experiences.’

Editor Tom Avery of William Heinemann and Cornerstone added: ‘Chelsea and Ore are two young writers of extraordinary talent and ability, and two writers determined to tackle what is one of the biggest issues in education and in society today with intelligence, insight and humour. Taking Up Space will be an important book: an indispensable guide as well as a manifesto for real and lasting change, and a project we are extremely proud to be publishing here at Penguin Random House and #Merky Books.’

Taking Up Space will be published by #Merky Books in summer 2019, and you can  pre-order the book here.

  • Taking Up Space

    ‘Hugely important’ PAULA AKPAN
    As a minority in a predominantly white institution, taking up space is an act of resistance. Recent Cambridge grads Chelsea and Ore experienced this first-hand, and wrote Taking Up Space as a guide and a manifesto for change.


    Understand that your journey is unique. Use this book as a guide. Our wish for you is that you read this and feel empowered, comforted and validated in every emotion you experience, or decision that you make.


    We can only hope that reading this helps you to be a better friend, parent, sibling or teacher to black girls living through what we did. It's time we stepped away from seeing this as a problem that black people are charged with solving on their own.

    It's a collective effort.
    And everyone has a role to play.

    Featuring honest conversations with students past and present, Taking Up Space goes beyond the buzzwords of diversity and inclusion and explores what those words truly mean for young black girls today.
    #Merky Books was set up by publishers Penguin Random House and Stormzy in June 2018 to find and publish the best writers of a new generation and to publish the stories that are not being heard. #Merky Books aims to open up the world of publishing, and this year has launched a New Writer’s Prize and will soon be launching a #Merky Books traineeship.

    ‘I know too many talented writers that don’t always have an outlet or a means to get their work seen, and hopefully #Merky Books can now be a reference point for them to say “I can be an author”, and for that to be a realistic and achievable goal… Reading and writing as a kid were integral to where I am today and I, from the bottom of my heart, cannot wait to hear your stories and get them out into the big wide world.’

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