Rather than adopt one of the cliched resolutions that cover the pages of women’s magazines – lose weight, get fit, be mindful – I decided this year to work on my perspective. Reading The Good Immigrant made me realise how my perspective of other cultures and people of ethnic minorities is completely disparate from their actual experience and opinions on their racial treatment in Britain. Unless you are Mo Farah or Nadya Hussain – immigrants who have transcended British social culture to become a UK household name – the treatment of immigrants in the UK is very different. The Good Immigrant, a collection of essays edited by Nikesh Shukla, aims to alter the perspective of the British public on race and immigration. British black, Asian and minority writers discuss their human experience of what it is to be ‘other’ in a way that makes the reader aware of the personal impact of cultural misunderstandings and insensitivities. Each essay presents a different experience of the treatment of BAME writers, alerting the reader to their ignorance surrounding cultural backgrounds different to the white privileged individual who is paraded over the television and social media. As a Bristol student, Nikesh Shukla’s essay about the word ‘namaste’ as a ‘bastardised metaphor for spiritualism’ in white British culture made me aware of my personal ignorance surrounding the Hindu culture from which this word originates, and the impact of this ignorance on Indian immigrants. This is a book that everyone should read. It reassures those who have had racist experiences that they are not alone, and educates others in understanding other people’s cultural experiences and difficulties. In 2018, I think we should all consider the experiences and perspectives of those different from ourselves. It would hopefully bring more empathy into the British cultural conversation around race, and that can only ever be a good thing.
The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla is available to buy at Amazon.co.uk