Fourth Estate has signed Whites, a “powerful and timely” essay by Otegha Uwagba.
Publishing director Michelle Kane acquired world English language rights from Emma Paterson at Aitken Alexander. Publication is scheduled for November 2020.
Whites sees the author reflect on racism, whiteness and “the mental labour required of black people to navigate relationships with white people”.
The synopsis explains: “Presented as a record of Uwagba’s observations on this era-defining moment in history – that is, George Floyd’s brutal murder and the subsequent protests and scrutiny of institutional racism – Whites explores the colossal burden of whiteness, as told by someone who is in her own words, ‘a reluctant expert’. What is it like to endure both racism and white efforts at anti-racism, sometimes from the very same people? How do black people navigate the gap between what they know to be true, and the version of events that white society can bring itself to tolerate? What does true allyship actually look like – and is it even possible?”
Uwagba is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller Little Black Book: A Toolkit For Working Women (Fourth Estate) published in 2017. The upcoming part memoir, part cultural commentary We Need To Talk About Money is scheduled for publication by Fourth Estate in May 2021. The author is also a speaker, brand consultant and founder of Women Who, a London-based multimedia platform aimed at creative women.
She explained: “Whites is the product of decades of my own experiences, feelings and observations about being on the receiving end of whiteness, and although I’ve been thinking about or working on the ideas explored in this essay for a number of years now, recent events gave them a renewed sense of urgency – it suddenly felt as though the things I’ve wanted to say for a long time really ought to be said right now. I am looking forward to the conversations that I hope this essay will inspire amongst readers of every race.”