Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire  (Paperback)
  • Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire  (Paperback)

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire (Paperback)

Paperback 352 Pages
Published: 21/03/2019
  • 10+ in stock

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Waterstones Says

Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain's racialised empire.

A searing modern polemic and Sunday Times bestseller from the BAFTA and MOBO award-winning musician and political commentator, Akala.

From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers - race and class have shaped Akala's life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today.

Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives will speak directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain's racialised empire.

Publisher: John Murray Press
ISBN: 9781473661233
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 249 g
Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 24 mm


'My book of the year. It's personal, historical, political, and it speaks to where we are now. This is the book I've been waiting for - for years.' - Benjamin Zephaniah 

'Part biography, part polemic, this powerful, wide-ranging study picks apart the British myth of meritocracy.' - David Olusoga, The Guardian

'Akala is at his best destroying the comfortable myths that are invoked by white fragility to downplay attempts to correct the historical record ... Akala makes it clear that he is not brimming with optimism. But reading Natives - witnessing the kind of disruptive, aggressive intellect that a new generation is closely watching - I can't help but be just that.' - Afua Hirsch, Observer

'What I love about this book is it's kind of like a testimony, a story of contemporary London. He is like one of the Baldwins or Hooks of our generation, who walks among us, you know? When he theorises, it's from a place of knowing rather than some distant place up above... He is very good at remembering and honouring the experiences that have shaped him, and he applies it in a very real way.' - Madani Younis, The Guardian

'In his lucid, wide-ranging Natives the rapper Akala shows how race, class and the legacies of empire shape life in Britain today... Akala's study interweaves sociological analysis with memoir. Half-Scottish and half-Jamaican by heritage, he challenges cultural assumptions and highlights their consequences, is trenchant about structures of disadvantage, and is discouraging, in the end, about the future.' - John Kerrigan, TLS

'A potent combination of autobiography and political history which holds up a mirror to contemporary Britain.' - Independent

'One of the most thoughtful books of the past year.' - The Evening Standard

'A history lesson of the kind you should get in school but don't... This is a searing, thought-provoking book.' - Stylist

'Akala argues with gripping clarity... He's trenchant and highly persuasive.' - Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2018, The Metro

'Akala's singular voice speaks to us with deep wisdom about the past, righteous anger about the present, and stubborn hope about the future. He is a radical for our times.' - Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship: A Human History

'A book bristling with intelligence and insight.' - The Irish Times

'In personalised chapters covering the police, education and identity, politics, sexual objectification and the far right, he confronts the issues of race and class at the heart of the legacy of Britain's racialised empire in this fierce and articulate polemic.' - The Bookseller

'There are lucid, well-cited and sharply argued passages ... which should probably be extracts on the national curriculum.' - Vice

'An essential voice in Britain's debate on race, class and identity.' - New Humanist 

'Fantastic.' - Novaramedia

'Blistering.' - Lacuna

'In many ways, Natives is as thorough a dissection of British racial relations as any you're likely to find... But it's also a vivid memoir on his own experiences of racism.' - The Skinny 

'Akala makes us quietly aware of how much we have left to learn about the world... He doesn't shy away from uncomfortable truths backed up with hard facts, which make you sit up and pay attention.' - Oxford Times

'An eminently readable account of what it means to be mixed race in Britain today, and the long-lasting legacies of colonialism. If that all sounds a little heavy for summer, Akala's sardonically droll writing leavens the subject without diminishing its impact.' - OX Magazine

'A book that fulfils the mantra of 'the personal is political' to illuminate both the challenges of, and oppositions to, racism... a series of essays, some personal, others political, yet one never divorced from the other.' - Philosophy Football

'A fiercely honest appraisal of growing up poor and mixed race in broken Britain. This heartfelt polemic fights every excuse of racial ignorance.' - Kirsty Allison, DJ Mag 

'An engaged and nuanced exploration of the complex interplay between race and class.' - Morning Star

'Vital.' - Blouin Art Info

'Even the guy behind the uni coffee shop counter can't help tiptoeing over to say how much he loves Akala's "outlook on life", now immortalised in print as Natives.' - Q Magazine

'Powerful... impressive in its historical sweep, mapping the construction of racial identity onto the growth of empire and capitalism [and] full of nuanced cultural critique.' - The List

Shelfie with Akala


Rapper, poet, political activist and now author, Akala, popped into his local Waterstones in Notting Hill to share some of his favourite books. As you might hope for from a man with such a wide-ranging cultural life his selections took in everything from psychiatric analysis to Nobel Prize-winning fiction by way of a science fiction classic. Enjoy.

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“A nuanced take on race ”

After the work of Reni Eddo-Lodge and Afua Hirsch it is great to read rapper, poet and activist Akala's take on issues of race in contemporary Britain, particularly given the way black masculinity is so... More

“Everyone Should Read This Book”

Nothing I write here will convey how fantastic Natives is. This book is extremely relevant, well researched, compelling and heartbreaking. This is the history that should be taught in schools and Akala's voice is... More

Emma Prince at Portsmouth

“Eye opening!”

Akala’s measured, in depth exploration of race and class in England is an urgent piece of writing that forces the reader to engage with a litany of institutionalised behaviours that have perpetuated unjust, misleading... More

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