Bookshops are back!

Finally, it is once again safe to wander around our favourite local bookshops, browsing and finding unexpected tittles, turning over a real book in our hands and marching it up to the tills. Although some things might be a little different, such as exchanging smiles beneath masks and extra hand sanitiser, one thing that will remain the same is the sanity and tranquillity that comes when, as a reader, you can once again return to your natural habitat and pick up a book in a bricks and mortar bookshop.

With their reopening, it’s important for us all to support local bookshops and ensure their survival. These safe havens where us readers can lose ourselves in, are essential to our community.

Although it’s brilliant that we can jump on our phones and browse every book on earth and order it within seconds, there is just something completely different about the feeling of physically being inside a book store, running your finger across the spines of an array of books and deciding on one to take home. It’s not just about the transaction of a purchase, it’s the experience.

With the reopening of bookshops also returns the chance for people to talk to others, for human connection. It feels only right that bookshops reopening coincides with the sun shining fiercer and blue skies above. A sign maybe, that brighter, better days are on the way…ones that we can spend wandering around our favourite bookshops, once again.

Please always support indies. Here’s a list of some of OWN IT!’s favourite local indie bookshops:

New Beacon Books – newbeaconbooks.com

Libreria London – libreria.io

Pages of Hackney – pagesofhackney.com

The Broadway Bookshop – broadwaybookshop.com

Burley Fisher – burleyfisherbooks.com

Stoke Newington Bookshop – stokenewingtonbookshop.com

Newham Bookshop – newhambooks.co.uk

HAPPY READING!

OWN IT! releases postcards to celebrate the One Year Publication anniversary of Stuart Goodman’s One Saturday In 82 On Broadway Market.

These black and white photos candidly picture the lives of shoppers and shop owners on this East London market in Hackney, which has since become unrecognisable. Preserving images of an East London landmark that has changed from desolation row to one of London’s trendiest markets.

One Saturday In 82 On Broadway Market also features Stuart Goodman’s account of his and Stephen Selby’s role in setting up a community initiative to save Broadway Market from demolition. Goodman speaks of the London that existed before gentrification. An East London native, brought up on a Hackney council estate, Goodman had lived in the market and been a shop keeper there for 6 months before photographing it for the first time.

In celebration of the one-year anniversary of publication, we are releasing three postcards of photographs from Stuart’s book.

With every purchase of his book One Saturday In 82 On Broadway Market, we’ll include a free postcard print.

If you’d like to purchase these prints, they are available at £1.50 each, or as a bundle of all 3 for £3.

Purchase ONE SATURDAY IN 82 ON BROADWAY MARKET HERE

Purchase postcards here:
(1 of 3)
(2 of 3)
(3 of 3)
Bundle of all 3

Visit Stuarts website to see more of his work here

Although we sadly lost the great Stuart Goodman, just over a year ago now (April 1st, 2020) his memory and his life live on through his work. Each of these photos capture a moment in time, a window into 1982 in Broadway Market and a window into the lives within it.

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH | FILM REVIEW | BY JUDE YAWSON

I have been unsure whether I wanted to review this film or not, as I felt the concepts that came into play are somewhat an injustice to the intentions and space the Black Panther Party attempted to create. However, after a few weeks of research, I came around to a satisfied state to speak on it. A strong disposition I have carried throughout my reviews so far is the importance of Black work in a multitude of mediums. Whether it is a film about a Black family unit and the lifelong affirmations so relatable, or the wonder of fantasy in a marvellous setting, a short film shedding an understanding of an unstudied space, or a historical show built to recognise a dramatic yet realistic state. In each of the Black works I review, there is a strong disposition of alleviating our struggles. I want to articulate and honour our community, as such ideas and realities became the making of me. Nevertheless, Judas & The Black Messiah is a film that unsettled that disposition of necessity by creation within me. It hurt my heart to watch, dampening my hope and soaked my misery in doubt, that by the end of it, left me morally debunked and slumped in depressive thought.

The first thing brought to my attention was questioning whether the film should exist or not. Although the enticing cast paused any form of protest that rocked within me. I thought, with the likes of Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, the film being produced by Ryan Coogler, directed and written by a highly respected Shaka King, this is something I should see. I will never miss something Daniel Kaluuya is in, right now he is my favourite actor. Plus, I jump at any chance to learn more about the Black Panther Party. This was my enticement to the film. Judas & The Black Messiah is about the immoral endeavours of William O’Neal, an FBI informant, played by a dismayed Lakeith Stanfield, positioned in a Chicago branch of the Black Panther Party led by a young and aspiring Chairman Fred Hampton, played by the illustrious Daniel Kaluuya, who won a Golden Globe for the best supporting actor in a film with this performance. Daniel’s invested performance shines bright. He visited Hampton’s early homes, schools, speaking venues, and even discussed with students and former Panthers about the man’s life and legacy. Meeting Fred Hampton Jr and his mother Akua Njeri (Deborah Johnson) who is played by Dominique Fishback, added to his conception of Fred Hampton as a being. Jesse Plemons plays Roy Mitchell, the real FBI agent that facilitates the whole ordeal under the tutelage of J Edgar Hoover – the infamous FBI director that looms in that dark with sharp but lifechanging statements of action.

The film itself is a suspenseful and triggering piece, highlighting aspects of the great communal service and pride carried throughout the Black Panther Party. It shone a brief light on their political notions, the discipline carried out, the training and collective endeavours of people, as well as the networking Fred Hampton orchestrated between other disillusioned political groups that existed at the time. The score of the film is dark, looming, adding to the unease and enthusing aspect of the reality of the situation. Composed by Mark Isham and Craig Harris, the Jazz influence captures the sound of the times while adding to the entire aura of the films concept. It was such musical strings being pulled that lulled me into a rage at the situations at hand. It is mechanical, calculative, imposing, and exposing of a concerned heart. This was masterfully done. Although, alongside my building bitterness, it was in these moments of the films dialogue, intentions, situations and score blending together that prompted me to question its existence. Despite the tremendous job in summoning the emotions, inspiring a range of thoughts, its being unsettles me knowing there’s no happy ending in this story. The immorality of the situation bellows as if jabbing at history itself, that won’t change but can produce such historical thrillers such as these.

William O’Neal story as the Judas evokes no empathy within my heart despite the humanisation of the character. He is the centrepiece of the film, that studies his controlled relationship with the FBI and the tactics they utilised to undermine the party. It could be argued that due to the insidious nature of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, its Counterintelligence Programme that carried out covert and majorly illegal operations of surveillance, infiltration, discrediting, and generally destroying domestic American political organisations, that it was not entirely to the fault of the manipulated informants. Nevertheless, empathy can only go so far. Regardless of the realities Black people faced, William O’Neal allowed himself to be a pawn for the downfall of a Black community. The Civil Rights Movement, as well as Black Power Movements, were prime targets during the 60s and 70s of these endeavours. William O’Neal was, one of countless people who were subjects utilised in these tactics. Though that doesn’t erase the fact he was a snitch looking out for his own self. Speaking to film reviewers at the African American Film Critics Association, Lakeith Stanfield voice cracks a bit as he thanked a critic for asking him about how he felt during this whole film process – something almost totally ignored throughout the whole ordeal.

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Lakeith Stanfield, left, and Jesse Plemons in a scene from “Judas and the Black Messiah.” (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

Lakeith highlighted the role ignited a depression within him, he suffered from panic attacks on set, sleepless nights, sheer confusion at becoming this character and questioned whether it was the right decision at all. He had to go to therapy in order to alleviate the stress accumulated in playing William O’Neal. When he first received the script, he was enthused at the idea of playing Fred Hampton – only to be informed it was William O’Neal he would perform. This was going to be a challenge, but as an actor it wasn’t an opportunity to shy way from. Joining him in this interview, Fred Hampton Jr and Daniel Kaluuya offered their insights to the reality behind the film – making a fantastic roundtable discussion of it. Jr went on to highlight, it was important such a film was created in order to show the reality behind FBI & Governance involvement in subjugating their efforts. People needed to heed the inhumane tactics of psychological warfare, manipulation and general undoing of them. Jr also added that these modern-day tactics and technologies have existed for so long, such as wiretapping, listening to conversations via phone, speakers that can allow you to hear conversations from within a building if just pointed at it, facial manipulation to change identities among other practices to ensure the destruction of such movements. He even noted the fact that when William O’Neal passed, he and his Mother, Deborah Johnson, renamed Akua Njeri, attended his funeral to pay their disrespects and ensure he was dead and buried. However, at the open casket – they came to realise that the body and face was not of the William O’Neal they remembered – adding to the mystery of the FBI and their practices.

I felt comforted at the idea that Fred Hampton Jr and his mother essentially gave their blessings to the creation of this film, and less fiery at its existence. However, another glaring issue I recognised was raised by Noname, a Chicago native rapper that has a passion for hands on community work. She is not merely an activist, but someone who is vocal in teaching and helping others learn a discourse to understanding politics and community. She denied the opportunity in being a part of a soundtrack, stating after she witnessed the film she decided to pull out of it. Which for many implied her politics doesn’t align with the creation or content of the film itself. Like with the fantastic film score, the film itself, the soundtrack also alienated me by being a product of the same system the Panthers fought against. The film and its ideas became a culture product to produce worth over political action. Recently, Noname raised a headquarters for her reading club that intends to provide political education classes, book & food drives, host a radically filled library, provide free art shows and film screenings. A wholesome and free space that doesn’t intend to wait for the same Government that orchestrated the downfall of such in the 60s and 70s to act. It is such political inclinations that the film lacked. Although some intentions were pointed toward, such as the equality of opportunity and respect by gender, the community watch and monitoring of policing, the cooperation between the Panthers and other political movements. Despite such, as a film – the political incantations can only be injected so far. If there was a film intending to flesh out the philosophy and political endeavours of the Black Panther Party, a film focused on the snitch wouldn’t be it. I do hold hope that, likewise with myself, such communal interests no matter how little detailed can inspire people to act within their own. We can share, educate, and work to each other’s benefit without needing a Government known for disenfranchising life itself.

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH DANIEL KALUUYA (right) as Chairman Fred Hampton

To conclude, I would say Judas & The Black Messiah is a must-see film if you adore passionate performances of brightening dark moments within history. Although the reality behind its existence offers a shallow feeling. Hence, I’d also say, if you are not a fan of trauma and carry a heavy heart you do not need to rush to see it. The spectacle has seemingly been enlightening for the cast, studying crew, and filmmakers themselves. I hope such can shed onto others, like it has with myself, and the endeavours of the Black Panthers strike a chord within them to embark on something similar. It is a shame that Blackness embodies politics in most cultural products and serves as something we can utilise in a learning space. But I guess, this has become a tragic reality of Blackness in white societies.

The Ongoing Farmers Protest in India: Explained.

What’s happening right now?

On the 9th of August 2020, 5 months ago, begun the Indian farmers’ protest, an ongoing protest against three farm acts which were passed by the Parliament of India in September 2020.

Farmer unions and their representatives have demanded that the laws be repealed and tens of thousands of farmers from the northern states of India have marched to the capital city to protest these unjust farming reforms.

They have covered at least 5 major highways around the city, asking to be heard with peaceful protests, only to be met with tear gas and water cannons.

However, protestors have persevered and set up camp around Delhi, gathered at various border point.

Delhi has responded with war-like fortification, including iron rails, rods, barbed wire and boulders.

Most concerning are the makeshift walls used to barricade Delhi’s borders against the thousands of protesting farmers, likened to the fencing at international borders, a harrowing imitation of Trumps US and Mexico border.

The government are taking inhuman steps in attempts to control the protestors, including cutting electricity, shutting off water and shutting down the internet.

To add to this, the Indian media are working to silence farmers and those raising awareness online. Including the spreading of fake news. A large number of twitter accounts sharing information about the farmers protests have also been blocked, whilst journalists covering the protests on the ground have been arrested.

The government are violating human rights all in hopes of silencing agricultural workers, who, out of 1.4. billion people make up half of the labour force.

Despite the bitter cold and the police force, farmers are braving these conditions until theirs are met.

Why are farmers protesting?

  • The new agricultural laws will leave farmers at the mercy of corporates, which will inevitably result in the end of Minimum Support Price (MSP)

    (MSP is the rate at which the government buys crops from farmers in case they fail to sell it to middlemen – this acts as a protection for farmers. Protection that if they are stripped of, could be fatal.)
  • This deregulation of the markets could lead to volatile prices for farmers and corporates will have an upper hand in fixing prices and resolving disputes in courts.
  • Small farmers will be left in the lurch as corporates likely won’t deal with them

This all has to be considered within the context of the wider problem within the farming industry.

Since the days of the Green Revolution agriculture has gone from accounting for 50% of the economy to just 15%. This shrinking economy means that more than half of India’s farming households are in debt.

This growing debt has led to a suicide crisis. 

For decades farmers have asked for reform and this has fallen on deaf ears. As a result of economic hardship, in the last 2 years alone, more than 20 thousand farmers have taken their life.

At a point where reform is so necessary, the Government have pivoted in the opposite direction. Instead of providing the much-needed protection for this vulnerable and shrinking community, they have introduced farming acts that leave farmers far more vulnerable to the exploitation by private companies, weakening their bargaining power, an action which seems to suggest a direction of dismantling them.

What do protestors want?

  • The withdrawal of the three laws which deregulate the sale of their crops.
  • Protect APMC markets (Mandis) where they can sell produce in a regulated environment
  • Legal assurance of regulation of MSP so farmers can get fair price for their produce

What can you do? The most important thing you can do is educate yourselves and those around you on what is happening around the world, just like the Farmers Protests in India.

Learn the context behind the problems and bring those conversations into as many spaces as you can.

OWN IT!’s LOCKDOWN READS

It’s been a crazy year and we’ve all spent a lot of it inside…and A LOT of it reading! Here are just a few of the books our authors and artists have been sinking their teeth into over the lockdowns.

THIS MOURNABLE BODY

TSITSI DANGAREMBGA

GET YOURS HERE

In this tense and psychologically charged novel, Tsitsi Dangarembga channels the hope and potential of one young girl and a fledgling nation to lead us on a journey to discover where lives go after hope has departed.

Here we meet Tambudzai, living in a run-down youth hostel in downtown Harare and anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job. At every turn in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the painful contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality ultimately drives her to a breaking point.

TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD

HARPER LEE

GET YOURS HERE

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it. To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior.

Shoot all the Bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird.

Lawyer Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. 

Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. 



A RIVER CALLED TIME

COURTTIA NEWLAND

GET YOURS HERE

The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning.

Years after the Ark was cut off from the world, a chance of survival within its confines is granted to a select few who can prove their worth.

Set in an alternate world where slavery and colonialism never happened, Newland’s staggering novel is both a timely exploration of social inequality and a story about love, loyalty and the search for the truth.

IKIAGI

THE JAPANESE SECRET TO A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE

RÉCTOR GARCIA AND FRANCESC MIRALLES

GET YOURS HERE

The people of Japan believe that everyone has an ikigai – a reason to jump out of bed each morning. And according to the residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa – the world’s longest-living people – finding it is the key to a longer and more fulfilled life.

Inspiring and comforting, this book will give you the life-changing tools to uncover your personal ikigai.

It will show you how to leave urgency behind, find your purpose, nurture friendships and throw yourself into your passions.

MRS DEATH MISSES DEATHS

SALENA GODDEN

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Mrs Death has had enough. She is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to. Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, is well acquainted with death, but until now hadn’t met Death in person – a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen.

Using their desk as a vessel and conduit, Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity.

THE DIVIDE

A BRIEF GUIDE TO GLOBAL INEQUALITY AND ITS SOLUTIONS

JASON HICKEL

GET YOURS HERE

For decades we have been told a story: that development is working, that poverty is a natural phenomenon and will be eradicated through aid by 2030. But just because it is a comforting tale doesn’t make it true. Poor countries are poor because they are integrated into the global economic system on unequal terms, and aid only helps to hide this. 

Drawing on pioneering research and years of first-hand experience, The Divide tracks the evolution of global inequality – from the expeditions of Christopher Columbus to the present day – offering revelatory answers to some of humanity’s greatest problems. It is a provocative, urgent and ultimately uplifting account of how the world works, and how it can change for the better.

THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE

BESSEL VAN DER KOLK

GET YOURS HERE

What causes people to continually relive what they most want to forget, and what treatments could help restore them to a life with purpose and joy? Here, Dr Bessel van der Kolk offers a new paradigm for effectively treating traumatic stress. 

Neither talking nor drug therapies have proven entirely satisfactory. With stories of his own work and those of specialists around the globe, The Body Keeps the Score sheds new light on the routes away from trauma – which lie in the regulation and syncing of body and mind, using sport, drama, yoga, mindfulness, meditation and other routes to equilibrium.

THE STORM

AKEEM BALOGUN

GET YOURS HERE

Through thirteen remarkably different stories, The Storm uses the intimacy of an evocative and volatile landscape to explore the very basics of human survival, all told in a distinct and slender style of prose.

In “Eden”, a sister longing for her brother goes to extremes to be reunited with her deceased sibling.

In “Bonfire Hero”, a doubtful and tired vigilante watches the streets beneath him deteriorate.

In “Buddhatarium”, personifications of tranquillity can be bought and exploited, becoming the only way for a father to keep his family together.

In this collection, 28-year-old writer Akeem Balogun shows us the often questionable ways that people deal with extreme crisis and how ordinary human relationships can become distorted in severe conditions.

BELOVED

TONI MORRISON

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Deploying a lyrical, resonant and mythically charged style whilst remaining utterly rooted in the reality of her subject matter, Beloved exemplifies Toni Morrison’s talent for telling a vital story in the right way. In its refusal to shy away from the horrors experienced by Sethe, Morrison’s novel reflects the countless – often unspoken – atrocities committed by whites against people of colour throughout history.

But Beloved is not a polemic. It interweaves ideas of motherhood, family, folklore and community, creating a narrative that is never less than utterly engrossing. The result is a rich, fully realised story that, as Jane Smiley writes in the Guardian, is ‘likely to mould or change a reader’s sense of the world.’

THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION

ALDOUS HUXLEY

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In 1953, in the presence of an investigator, Aldous Huxley took four-tenths of a gram of mescalin, sat down and waited to see what would happen. When he opened his eyes everything, from the flowers in a vase to the creases in his trousers, was transformed. Huxley described his experience with breathtaking immediacy in The Doors of Perception. 

In its sequel Heaven and Hell, he goes on to explore the history and nature of mysticism. Still bristling with a sense of excitement and discovery, these illuminating and influential writings remain the most fascinating account of the visionary experience ever written.

TERRAFORMED

YOUNG BLACK LIVES IN THE INNER CITY

JOY WHITE

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Since the 1980s, austerity, gentrification and structural racism have wreaked havoc on inner-city communities, widening inequality and entrenching poverty. In Terraformed, Joy White offers an insider ethnography of Forest Gate – a neighbourhood in Newham, east London – analysing how these issues affect the black youth of today.

Connecting the dots between music, politics and the built environment, it centres the lived experiences of black youth who have had it all: huge student debt, invisible homelessness, custodial sentences, electronic tagging, surveillance, arrest, ASBOs, issues with health and well-being, and of course, loss.

Part ethnography, part memoir, Terraformed contextualises the history of Newham and considers how young black lives are affected by racism, neoliberalism and austerity.

A MONK’S GUIDE TO A CLEAN HOUSE AND MIND

SHOUKEI MATSUMOTO

GET YOURS HERE

Live clean. Feel calm. Be happy. We remove dust to sweep away our worldly cares. We live simply and take time to contemplate the self, mindfully living each moment.

It’s not just monks that need to live this way. Everyone in today’s busy world needs it.In Japan, cleanliness is next to enlightenment.

This bestselling guide by a Zen Buddhist monk draws on ancient traditions to show you how a few simple changes to your daily habits – from your early morning routine to preparing food, from respecting the objects around you to working together as a team – will not only make your home calmer and cleaner, but will leave you feeling refreshed, happier and more fulfilled.

THINGS FALL APART

CHINUA ACHEBE

GET YOURS HERE

Okonkwo is the greatest wrestler and warrior alive, and his fame spreads throughout West Africa like a bush-fire in the harmattan. But when he accidentally kills a clansman, things begin to fall apart.

Then Okonkwo returns from exile to find missionaries and colonial governors have arrived in the village. With his world thrown radically off-balance he can only hurtle towards tragedy. 

 This arresting parable of a proud but powerless man witnessing the ruin of his people begins Achebe’s landmark trilogy of works chronicling the fate of one African community, continued in Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease.

CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP

A HISTORY OF THE HIP-HOP GENERATION
Jeff Chang

GET YOURS HERE

Hip-hop is now a global multi-billion pound industry. It has spawned superstars all across the world. There have been tie-in clothing lines, TV stations, film companies, cosmetics lines. It even has its own sports, its own art style, its own dialect. It is an all-encompassing lifestyle. But where did hip-hop culture begin? Who created it? How did hip-hop become such a phenomenon?

Jeff Chang introduces the major players who came up with the ideas that form the basic elements of the culture. He describes how it all began with social upheavals in Jamaica, the Bronx, the Black Belt of Long Island and South Central LA. He not only provides a history of the music, but a fascinating insight into the social background of young black America.

THICH NAHT HANH

HOW TO LOVE

How to Love is part of a charming series of books from Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, exploring the essential foundations of mindful meditation and practise.

MEENA KANDASAMY

EXQUISITE CADAVERS

In a conversation between forms, fictions and truths, Exquisite Cadavers is a novel about a young couple navigating love in London, and a literary hall of mirrors about an author navigating the inspirations behind her work.

SAREETA DOOMINGO

IF I DON’T HAVE YOU

A captivating, sexy romance that explores the limits of love at first sight…

BALLI KAUR JASWAL

EROTIC STORIES FOR PUNJABI WIDOWS

When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals.

OCEAN VUONG

ON EARTH WE’RE BRIEFLY GORGEOUS


Framed as a letter from a young Vietnamese man to his illiterate mother, Vuong’s radiant debut novel traces themes of race, class and colonialism across decades of South East Asian history, building to a breathtaking final revelation.  

SLIMANI

SEX AND LIES

In these essays, Leila Slimani gives voice to young Moroccan women who are grappling with a conservative Arab culture that at once condemns and commodifies sex. 

MAYTE GARCIA

MY LIFE WITH PRINCE

In The Most Beautiful, a title inspired by the hit song Prince wrote about their legendary love story, Mayte Garcia for the first time shares the deeply personal story of their relationship

BRYAN WASHINGTON

MEMORIAL

Family tragedy forces a young queer couple to reassess their relationship in this tender, compassionate and wryly funny novel from the award-winning author of Lot.

ROBERT JONES JR

THE PROPHETS

Following the lives of two young enslaved men in the Halifax plantation, this visionary and deeply evocative debut carves a radiant love story out of the bleakest of landscapes.

COURTTIA NEWLAND

A RIVER CALLED TIME

Set in an alternate world where slavery and colonialism never happened, Newland’s staggering novel is both a timely exploration of social inequality and a story about love, loyalty and the search for the truth.

ON BHAKTI

TARKA

TARKA is a quarterly journal that explores yoga philosophy, contemplative studies, and the world’s wisdom and esoteric traditions.

HAPPY READING!