Bernardine Evaristo slams ‘shameful’ lack of teaching on black and Asian history

Bernardine Evaristo has labelled the lack of teaching of black and Asian history in schools as “shameful”.

The Booker Prize-winning author told British Vogue there is “such a problem” with a lack of diversity in the curriculum.

Black and Asian history is “such an important part of this country’s history”, she said.

The 2020 Booker Prize Awards Ceremony
(David Parry/PA)

Evaristo, who wrote Girl, Woman, Other, told British Vogue: “There are all kinds of campaigns out there trying to diversify the curriculum – which is very problematic trying to open the minds of the people who are in control of the curriculum to make sure that children in their education system study a wide range of books and literature that reflect the society we live in.”

She added black and Asian history “isn’t taught in schools and that is shameful because it’s such an important part of this country’s history, through slavery and colonialism and also just the changing demographic of Britain from the middle of the 20th century onwards”.

Evaristo also said she was not able to earn a living from her career as a writer until after she won the Booker Prize in 2019.

“So what I did was what you now call rather glamorously a portfolio career in that I juggled lots of other things,” she said.

“And I took on jobs as an arts administrator to give me a basic income.

“But those jobs were part-time jobs because I wanted to write the rest of the time.

“But in terms of actually earning a living from my writing, that has only happened in the last year – and I’m 61.”

Evaristo said rejection is a good thing for writers as she shared tips on how to write well with British Vogue.

“You need rejection in your life. If you don’t have rejection in your life then you are not going to build the skills that you need to sustain a lifelong career, to be honest doing anything, but certainly as a writer,” she said.

“For me, after 40 years to win the Booker Prize, I wouldn’t have won it if I had been crushed by rejection because my history in a sense has been littered with rejection or so-called failure, so it’s really important to embrace rejection but to use it to empower you to go ahead with achieving your ambition and your dreams.”

Vogue Visionaries: Episode Five – Writing With Bernardine Evaristo is available to watch on British Vogue’s YouTube channel.