Welcome or welcome back to #DarkHuesChats! In today’s chapter, we had the opportunity to talk to award-winning blogger, screenwriter, digital consultant and now the author of their new book ‘Bringing Up Race‘, Uju Asika.
1. So apart from being a screenwriter/author can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I was born in Nigeria and grew up in the UK. I’ve also lived in the States (New Jersey, working in NYC) as well as Lagos. I’m a mother of two amazing (and very cheeky lol) boys who are the original stars of my blog Babes about Town (babesabouttown.com). The blog is a city guide for parents of children in London and beyond who are looking for cool, cultural things to do and discover. Over the years, we’ve covered everything from live theatre to family festivals and child-friendly raves! I also run Mothers and Shakers, a digital consultancy for women/parents who want to launch and grow a creative business.
2. We can see that writing is a clear passion of yours, what inspired you to start your career and when did you start writing?
I’ve been writing since I could remember. I wrote stories and poetry as a child and that has basically been my life. I grew up in quite a literary household with bookshelves stacked all around, as both my parents were heavily into reading and education. My first published pieces were poetry in an anthology published by the fantastic Kadija Sesay. After that I got into journalism, writing about arts and culture mostly for the Black British press.
3. Where would you say is the perfect environment for you to write?
I dream of sitting on a sandy beach with a notebook. But my daily life is writing at my makeshift desk in the corner of my living room or on the sofa with my laptop. I’ve learned to write pretty much anywhere and as a mum, I remember those days way back when I’d be typing one hand while trying to manage a toddler. Since my boys have been homeschooling while I’ve tried to meet my book deadlines, I’m more grateful than ever for my noise-cancelling headphones and Spotify playlists!
4. Your Instagram feed is full of pictures of your beautiful family, what are some of your favourite things to do together?
My boys are football nuts and we’re all Arsenal supporters, so we love watching the big games together. We’re also into reading books together; I’m currently reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my youngest right now. We enjoy going to see shows and having family movie nights at home. Also we’re a foodie family and my husband runs a hotdog business called Big Apple Hot Dogs.
5. We created Dark Hues in order to showcase dark skin womxn, trans men & non-binary people. And as dark-skinned women ourselves, we want to see ourselves represented more! As a Screenwriter/Author as well as in your personal life, have you had any incidents where you had to deal with Colourism?
It’s interesting as throughout my life I’ve had moments when I’m considered darker skinned or lighter skinned, depending on what season it is or what environment I’m in. For me, as the darkest skinned person in my immediate family (my husband’s background is mixed Black Nigerian and White New Zealander) the colourism has come from the occasional stranger questioning my relationship with my own boys. This happened more when they were younger but it’s rare now as, regardless of their complexion, they look like me especially my eldest! I have an entire chapter on Colourism in my book, it’s such a huge topic.
Finally, congratulations on your new book! Currently, we are seeing huge conversations about race, racism and fighting for equality. Your book is titled ‘Bringing up Race, How to raise a kind child in a prejudiced world’ – can you tell us a little bit more about this book?
Thanks so much! Yes it’s amazing to have a book coming out on this issue when the world is finally turning its spotlight on race and race equality. My book is aimed at parents but really can appeal to anyone of any ethnicity who wants to understand how racism takes root, just how harmful it is to our kids and our societies, and what steps we can take to enhance the way we see and treat each other as human beings. I tell personal stories and I’ve interviewed more than 20 parents who also share their experiences. Plus there’s some practical takeaways and lots of research to get people thinking and hopefully ready to do the work to eradicate racism and raise kinder kids. I’m excited for its release on September 3, 2020!
Uju Asika is a multiple award-nominated blogger , digital consultant and author of the book Bringing Up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World, published on September 3, 2020 by Yellow Kite (Hachette UK).