'Brilliant' CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS, author of QUEENIE
'Essential' BERNARDINE EVARISTO, author of GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER
'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.
FOR BLACK GIRLS:
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.
FOR EVERYONE ELSE:
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.'
Intimate... like reading the diary of a well-informed friend. The result is a bold venture... full of what will be revelations to some and reminders to others. The authors dignify the argument with nuance, and puncture the tendency to see black students as a monolith... For countless black women in Britain, a century after women's suffrage and in spite of the Race Relations Act, it can feel like the glass ceiling is reinforced by concrete, with those above unable to see below. And self-help, it seems, remains essential.
We caught up with Ore and Chelsea, the authors of Taking Up Space: A Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change as they tell us why diversity has become an empty buzzword and why they’re on a mission to change that. Taking Up Space is the flagship release from #Merky Books.