gal-dem is an online site intended for women of colour and non-binary people. This paperback book is the first publication of contributions to the site. In every contribution to this collection, the writers are addressing their teenage selves. The topics covered include drugs, gender identity, experiences of racism, coming to terms with one’s country of origin, relationships and conflict with one’s mother. Most of the texts contain a poem or a diary extract originated by the author’s younger self. Each section is illustrated in monochrome by Nash.
The significance of this book is that it is written by authors of colour for the benefit of their younger selves and for other young people who may share their experiences. Members of minorities, whether defined by ethnicity, sexuality or any other criterion, will find themselves targets of comments from people who have no conception of the life their targets live. The central concept of this book is social erasure. People identified by certain characteristics are isolated from public awareness and from the mainstream of social life itself. An observer, however benign, may not realise the depth of this isolation unless and until reading about it from those who know it as a daily reality.
In one instance and one only this reviewer felt that the book slipped into a didactic tone, when discussing drugs. The lapse is readily understandable, since the situation described is indeed fraught and a didactic tone too easily adopted. The book issues a significant challenge. Why don’t other minorities such as disabled people take a similar opportunity?