Brit(ish) Book Summary - Brit(ish) Book explained in key points
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Brit(ish) summary

Afua Hirsch

On Race, Identity and Belonging

4.4 (46 ratings)
33 mins

Brief summary

Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch is a memoir exploring identity, race, and belonging in the UK. Hirsch reflects on her own experiences as a British woman of mixed heritage and challenges the country’s white, middle-class narrative. The book offers insight into contemporary British society and its complex history.

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    Brit(ish)
    Summary of 13 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 13

    Identity is complicated. 

    “Who are you?” 

    As we move through our lives, each of us carries around a multifaceted answer to that question in our minds. Think of the nouns and adjectives you use to describe yourself. Think of the stories you tell to make sense of your life. For example, one of those nouns might be your profession, and one of those stories might be the tale of how you chose your career. 

    These answers form our identities – the ways in which we define ourselves as human beings. Now, as human beings, we are both separate individuals and social creatures at the same time. We therefore define our identities on both an individual and a social level. For instance, individually, you might define yourself as having certain personality traits, hobbies and interests. Socially, you might define yourself as belonging to a particular political party or ethnic group. 

    Each of our identities represents an intricate blend of both types of characteristics. This makes identity a complicated phenomenon. On top of that, the social groups to which we belong also have identities of their own and unique ways of defining themselves. And to make things even more complex, those definitions are often contested and contestable. 

    The identity of Britishness provides a case in point. Insofar as people identify themselves as being British, they’re confronted with a whole slew of thorny questions. What does it mean to be British? What sort of values does British society uphold? What is the national story of Britain? Who belongs to that story? Who counts as being British? 

    In short, British people have to answer the same basic question with which we began – only now the pronoun has shifted. It’s no longer “who are you?” Now it’s “who are we?”

    But while it might be unifying on a grammatical level, the question of British national identity can be pretty divisive on an ideological level. Bring it up with two different British people, and you might receive two very different answers – especially if one of them voted Leave and the other voted Remain in the 2016 referendum on whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. 

    This “Brexit” referendum brought to the surface a host of simmering social tensions, which we’ll look at in the next blink. 

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    What is Brit(ish) about?

    Published in 2018, Brit(ish) is a wide-ranging exploration of the relationships between British national identity, racial identity and immigration. Combining history, journalism, social analysis, cultural commentary and personal memoir, it aims to help jumpstart a long-overdue conversation about the roles that people’s races and origins play in modern British society. 

    Brit(ish) Review

    Brit(ish) (2018) by Afua Hirsch is a thought-provoking exploration of identity and belonging for black British people. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • The book sheds light on the complexities of race and racism in Britain, providing valuable insights into the experiences of black individuals in the country.
    • Afua Hirsch's personal anecdotes and reflections add depth and authenticity to the narrative, making it relatable and engaging.
    • By challenging ingrained ideas about national identity, the book encourages readers to question their own biases and consider what it truly means to be British.

    Who should read Brit(ish)?

    • Non-British people wanting insight into how race functions in the UK
    • British people wanting more context for recent debates about immigration 
    • Anyone wanting to better understand the experiences of people of color

    About the Author

    Afua Hirsch has worked as a barrister, a broadcaster for Sky News and a correspondent for The Guardian. Today, she continues to write for The Guardian as a columnist, and she holds the Wallis Annenberg Chair in Journalism and Communication at the University of Southern California. Brit(ish) is her first book. It was a Sunday Times bestseller and won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize for Non-Fiction.

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    Brit(ish) FAQs 

    What is the main message of Brit(ish)?

    The main message of Brit(ish) is a powerful exploration of race, identity, and belonging in modern Britain.

    How long does it take to read Brit(ish)?

    The reading time for Brit(ish) varies depending on your reading speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Brit(ish) a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Brit(ish) is a thought-provoking and eye-opening book that offers a fresh perspective on race and identity. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding modern Britain.

    Who is the author of Brit(ish)?

    The author of Brit(ish) is Afua Hirsch.

    What to read after Brit(ish)?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Brit(ish), here are some recommendations we suggest:
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