What does it feel like to have your culture and language appropriated for a trend? What does it feel like to grow up without ever seeing an accurate representation of you on TV, but just a stereotypical mockery? What does it feel like to be stopped and detained at an airport because of the colour of your skin and your name?
These are some of the important questions that The Good Immigrant sheds some light on. The Good Immigrant is a collection of 21 essays by BAME writers/ artists on the experience of immigrants and minority ethnics in the UK today. It provides a fearless conversation on race, diversity and immigration that is well needed at this time.
I first came across this last year when it was making its way across social media and was named the British public’s favourite book in 2016. The book came out of Unbound, a crowd funding platform that allows people to choose which books they want to read and promise funds to it.
The collection deals with the idea that the white experience is universal and is what BAME people must mould themselves around. Essays include Wei Ming Khan discussion about the lack of visibility for the Chinese community and how harmful the ‘model minority’ box can be and Sarah Sahim’s piece that draws attention to the perpetuating problem of casteism. As someone who has been selected at an American airport for “random testing” and the only person who was taken aside and questioned when coming back from Paris into King’s Cross, one of the standout pieces was Riz Ahmed’s Auditions and Airports. Here, he discusses the multiple times he was detained and questioned just for being Muslim.
I honestly can’t recommend this enough. It’s so important to bring these issues into a space for discussion and The Good Immigrant has helped carve this space.