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Akala’s bold take on race and class


BAFTA winner and social entrepreneur Akala confronts issues of race and class in a new book that was launched at Birmingham City University recently.

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire sees the MOBO award-winning artist discuss policing, education and politics, exploring issues which he considers are at the heart of the legacy of Britain’s racialised empire.

Befitting his dual role as artist and social commentator, Akala was joined in conversation by Birmingham City University sociologist Dr Kehinde Andrews, who was instrumental in the recent launch of the university’s Black Studies degree – the first of its kind in Europe.

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire features commentary from Akala as he reflects on his own life experiences and uses them to look at the social, historical and political factors that have led society to where it is today.

“I was not born with an opinion of the world but it clearly seemed that the world had an opinion of people like me,” Akala, the younger brother of fellow hip hop artist/singer Ms Dynamite, told the media.

“I did not know what race and class supposedly were but the world taught me very quickly.”


When not performing, Akala, who has toured with the likes of Jay-Z and Christina Aguilera, is also known as Kingslee Daley and runs his own record label and The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, which he founded in 2008 with actor Sir Ian McKellen to offer education programmes for young people.

Akala followed up the launch with a guest appearance on ITV’s Peston on Sunday political programme where he asserted that inequalities in access to further and higher education continue to ensure that the highest ranking roles in UK industry are typically filled by the privately educated.

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