Review: Brown Girl in the Ring: Memoirs of a brown girl living in Scotland by Olukemi Ogunyemi

Brown Girl in the Ring is a beautifully crafted, deeply personal memoir; not only is it the ultimate message on how to put an end to racism, it is a true story for our times.

In this, her first book, she tells of her momentous struggle growing up as a mixed-race child in Scotland. She describes, in horrific, gut-wrenching detail, the treatment she received at the hands of the so-called ‘good people’ of Scotland; acts of racism that continued into adulthood and wreaked havoc for her as a wife and a mother of four children.

Her captivating story calls out unconscious, racial bias – even in her own family – but through the obvious pain and suffering, she still allows her sense of humour and her deep love for her husband and her children to shine through.

Not content with just telling her story, Ogunyemi spells out her quest to tackle racism head-on, but not with a ‘call to arms’. Forget anger and finger-pointing and think more sit-down chat with someone who understands. She lives and breathes compassion, not blame.13

My thoughts

I picked this story because it takes place in Scotland and the bonus for me was that it is about a Black woman. Brown Girl in the Ring took me beyond a simple selection due to country choice and into the heart of racism, abuse, and survival.

Olukemi Ogunyemi’s memoir is descriptive and impactful. When I was reading about her communion, all I wanted was the opportunity to get to wear such a dress. All of her descriptions were beautiful, until the moment I no longer wanted to wear the dress. I wondered after that violent scene, whether Ogunyemi ever wore a white dress again. Let me warn you that Ogunyemi briefly describes her first rape at eight-years-old and the disregard of the event by everyone around her. I had to take a breath when I realized I was on familiar ground.

The lack of interest in Ogunyemi’s reality had already been bred before this chapter. Her move to a white neighborhood and her integration into her mother’s family. There are many unlikeable people in Ogunyemi’s story, but just breathe because remember she comes out of it to write this book.

Ogunyemi’s story is not an easy read. It is difficult, heart-breaking, pain-searing, and can fill you with desolation. I didn’t come out of this story with hope for a better future for non-whites. This is a survival story and yes Ogunyemi has survived, but her and her family have paid a horrendous price to do so.

I had to read Brown Girl in the Ring in chapters and sometimes one at a time. It’s worth it. 

I received a free copy of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

 “As a Bookshop and Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.” at no additional cost to you.

Olukemi Ogunyemi

Olukemi Ogunyemi is a highly successful body therapist, who also speaks and blogs on racism and transgender issues – olukemiogunyemi.com13

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Further Details:

Published by: New Generation Publishing, 9781800310667, August 3rd 2021

Settings: Scotland

Pages: 380

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