The Hate Race
Maxine Beneba Clarke
When can I get my hands on it: Now!
What am I in for: Non-Fiction, memoir
“It was always the sea that brought bloodshed to our lands; the ocean on which they arrived to destroy us; the tide on which they stole us away.”
Maxine Beneba Clarke’s memoir provides a vivid and honest picture of suburban Australia in the 80’s and 90’s. The daughter of Jamaican parents, Clarke was the victim of racism in a stolen country not yet willing to accept multiculturalism.
I can’t fault this memoir in any way. Clarke’s writing does not have that “pity me” vibe that a lot of memoirs tend to have. Her writing is factual and effortless. Reading this I felt so sad for young Maxine. What really got me the most was how she didn’t realise being dark skinned was a negative thing until she starting interacting with white Australians in school. In her child mind you were either black or white and that’s that. It really adds weight to the fact that ideas and prejudices are fed to children from a young age. The bullying she suffered from her classmates and the neglect she received from academic staff is a heartbreaking insight into the ignorance that was, and still is present in Australia.
“I learned to stay quiet. I learned that nobody much cared. I learned that it was probably my fault anyway, and that what they were doing was perfectly okay. This is how it alters us. This is how we change.”
While this memoir was confronting at times, it was also very funny. Clarke is a natural born storyteller. I loved the people she loved and hated the people she hated. I laughed at her “tribal dance” and got excited for her first kiss. I sympathised with her white friends who were too scared to defend her “Theirs was a silence most deafening”. This is a memoir every Australian needs to read. It truly lives up to all the hype and praise it has been given.
Final rating 5/5