Meet Claire Bale: equality advocate, anti-racism blogger, and avid bookworm. In the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, Claire embarked on a journey of self-reflection. As a mixed-race woman, she realised white authors predominantly shaped her reading habits. Join us as Claire shares how this realisation sparked a commitment to diversifying her literary repertoire and advocating for inclusivity.

My name's Claire Bale and I am an equality, diversity, and inclusion professional, anti-racism blogger, and bookworm. Believe it or not, all these things are connected.

Back in 2020, when many people were reflecting on the world due to the Black Lives Matter protests of that year, I thought about my habits. I realised that I had spent a disproportionate amount of time and money on books by white authors. Even as a mixed-race woman, without me realising it, my biggest pass time had been shaped by the white mainstream.

I made the decision to focus solely on books by authors of colour from then on. As a result, I've learnt a lot more about the world, shared what I read with others through my book blog, Oo! That's a Bit Racey!, and written about what I've learned along the way on my blog, too. It has also made me to think about some of my other interests, including fashion. When I decided to seek out more purposeful, values-led, Black-owned fashion brands, it didn't take long to find Kemi Telford.

If you're someone who values authenticity, creativity and strong women with inspirational stories (and if you’re a fan of Kemi Telford, I bet you are!), these are some of the books I think you'd love –

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

A fascinating family saga across generations from the Caribbean to the USA, full of secrets and love.

Memphis by Tara M Stringfellow

Heart-wrenching and inspiring in equal measure, set in Tennessee in the 1990s, about women who come together to support each other, survive and thrive.

The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff

Hilarious and poignant, too, set in a village in modern-day India. A murder mystery with a difference.

Home Going by Yaa Gyasi

The most powerful historical fiction I've ever read, dealing with the hard truths of the slave trade and its repercussions through generations.

Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo

An uplifting story of a mature woman who finally takes some time for herself and discovers a lot about herself along the way.

Now that you've heard a bit about my journey, I'd love to know yours! What are some of your favourite books by authors of colour or go-to Black-owned fashion brands? Share your gems in the comments below. Let's keep this conversation going and discover more amazing stories and styles together!

Claire is wearing the Greta Mixed Print Dress.

Connect with Claire on Instagram and her website is here

Yvonne Telford