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This is an interesting read. It really helps contextualize the protests of 2020, and I especially love how it dispels that most enduring of white Canadian myths: The idea that somehow white Canadians aren't just as racist, violent and hypocritical as those terrible Americans down south.
Reading the other comments here I can add nothing more but agree. It is very well written, so engaging to read, yet it deals with such a serious and important issue. I also like that the book is not pessimistic, somehow through all there is a ray of sun quietly emerging. Desmond Cole is our late-found treasure, hopefully to lead us towards becoming a better society.
This memoir is powerfully written and well-researched, I highly recommend it for those living in the GTA. Cole has an engaging tone in his writing but also gives great context to the ways in which racism is still present today. This was one of the most memorable books I read this year, and I have to agree with reviews that say it should be mandatory reading.
From the inside of what it's like.
I cried. How can this be going in in my country and in my city. Thank you Mr. Cole for documenting the hidden racism in Canada. I hope our Canadian grandchildren never have to shed tears over man's inhumanity to man in our own country.
This should be required reading for all high schools across Canada. I learned a lot about our history. We're always comparing ourselves to the Americans, but we're just as bad.
This perspective-changing book involves a lot of thoroughly-researched history about the struggles that overlap and intersect within the black and indigenous communities in Canada. The way Cole paints our distinct Canadian picture is very significant. I love how Cole does not attempt to compare the tragedies taking place between the US and Canada, rather highlighting how messed up things are here, and how unstable and unsafe things are here. Topics that are discussed within these chapters are police brutality towards black citizens, corrupt data collection of policing, and the disinterest politicians have on layers and layers of unchecked and contested white supremacy. Canada has a lot of history we aren’t facing. The Skin We’re In is a critical book into Black Life in Canada and a critical look into Black Resistance in Canada and abroad. Overall, this read battles the myth that Canada is more inclusive, welcoming and celebratory of diversity than the USA. Being a Canadian myself, I know that this is true because our country is certainly not perfect, as we have made several mistakes in the past, and to this day when it comes to things such as racial injustice, discrimination, and much more. I would definitely recommend the whole world to read this book, so we can own up to these truths, and start to make change. 5/5 stars
@Bookland of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board
I'm more than 60 per cent through and this should be on every Canadian's reading list. It's a scathing indictment of the Canadian mythos that we are better than the U.S. in terms of our history with Black immigrants and slavery.
We are not.
I learned so much from Cole's lived experience and his careful research. Things I wish I had been taught in school. I truly believe this should be on the curriculum for at least grade 9 students. It's written plainly and well enough for them to understand.
Depending on the maturity of a 13-year-old I would let them read (listen) to it, and teens 14–15 years old should be ready to read it or listen to it (recognizing not everyone reads from the page—electronic or paper—well).
If you're a parent, it would be good to read it before and then again while your kid is reading it so that they can ask questions or so that you can bring up different points. If you don't know the answer to your kid's question, it's okay to say you don't know and suggest you and them do the research together, if possible.
Conversations absolutely have to happen alongside this book.
The author doesn't hold back the punches and nor should he. This book is a scathing indictment of not just law enforcement (although that features prominently), but multiple Canadian institutions, norms and mores that enable racism against Black Canadians to flourish. A necessary read for naïve Canadians still operating under the illusion that racism stops at the Canadian border.
Sometimes, the very best and most honest books come from activists and journalists, who are both witnesses and participants in defining moments in history. In our fast-paced world, Desmond Cole takes the time to pause, to notice, to write, and record. The Skin We're In is a powerfully important book about systemic racism in Canada today. Cole writes with care and sensitivity about issues that are both personal and political. Although the book takes place over a single year, Cole weaves history and context throughout these pages to ground present struggles in the legacy of the past. I finished this book a few days ago and cannot stop thinking about it.
This is required reading as far as I'm concerned. The Skin We're In is excellent: a very impressive debut.