In Black and White: A Young Barrister’s Story of Race and Class in a Broken Justice System by Alexandra Wilson

Alexandra Wilson was a teenager when her dear family friend Ayo was stabbed on his way home from football. Ayo’s death changed Alexandra. She felt compelled to enter the legal profession in search of answers.

As a junior criminal and family law barrister, Alexandra finds herself navigating a world and a set of rules designed by a privileged few. A world in which fellow barristers sigh with relief when a racist judge retires: ‘I’ve got a black kid today and he would have had no hope’.

Review

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson, is without a shred of doubt one of the most relevant and important books of our generation! In the time of Black Lives Matter and attacks on the integrity of the justice system, we needed a book that shines a light on all that is wrong with not just our legal system, but society in general. This book is a starting point from which we as a nation can begin to accept where we are still failing, but also how we are succeeding. It is not a rampant attack on on our legal system, but it is critical of the often imbued bias against people of colour, women and class.

The writer Alexandra Wilson tells a very personal story of the reasons she became a barrister, the hard work and commitment it took, especially when faced with many barriers. It is as The Secret Barrister is quoted on the cover as saying “An absolute triumph”. Why? Because of it honesty and the powerful message it carries to others to not let ingrained bigotry, racism or gender in balance, stop you from achieving all that you are capable of. Yes she talks of all the problems she faced, but she also acts as a shining light for all those who feel they are forever excluded from working in the legal system. That there are still people in 2020, who see the colour of a persons skin, their gender, their sexuality, before they see their talent or their passion for fairness, is shocking and for me the most upsetting part of this book. But In Black and White Alexandra Wilson lays that open to the reader and asks us acknowledge that change is needed still, that we are far from having a legal system that represents all and that is why this book is so important. Why, that for those that might claim that there is not bias within the law, we should make this book compulsory reading!

As a writer she is unfailing fair, she rightly talks of how she has faced racial bigotry, having been mistaken for a client, even though she was smartly dressed , carrying briefs and clearly a professional, and yet when faced with this she also celebrates those that championed her career! The result is a book of huge importance, a vital voice that needs to be championed so that we move forward to a better, fairer world.

You can purchase this book from Amazon, Waterstones and any independent book seller.

About the author

Alexandra Wilson is a junior barrister. She grew up in Essex and is the eldest of four children. Her mother is White British, her father is Black British and her paternal grandparents were born in Jamaica and came to England as part of the Windrush generation.

Alexandra studied at the University of Oxford and was awarded two prestigious scholarships, enabling her to research the impact of police shootings in the US on young people’s attitudes to the police. She went on to study for a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and her Master of Laws at BPP University in London. Alexandra was awarded the first Queen’s scholarship by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, a scholarship awarded to students showing exceptional promise in a career at the Bar.

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