Writing for reaction, with Natalie Morris

“Reaction is the point of writing. You’ve only failed as a writer if the reaction is silence.”

Natalie Morris dreamed of being a writer as a child, and is now firmly entrenched in her dream job. She’s the senior lifestyle writer at metro.co.uk, and author of the new book Mixed/Other: Explorations of Multiraciality in Modern Britain. Writing about race comes with its own suite of challenges and often elicits extreme reactions, but Natalie sees these as important, saying, “My job is to provoke discussion and promote new ways of thinking.”

She’s also a fellow Mancunian, so let’s not overlook that!

Things we talked about:

  • The difference between writing as a journalist and writing a book (it’s just so long!)
  • But: you only get to publish your first book once! Accept the nerves, and appreciate the moment
  • The ever-present contention and push-back received when one writes about race
  • Natalie’s very wise words that reaction is the point of writing – and those reactions don’t have to be positive every time
  • The value of the interviews in her book, and how she found and chose the right people to talk to
  • Some of the stories and themes that came out of the interviews that surprised her
  • The unique experiences that people of mixed race have when they walk through the world, and the impact this has on identity, parenting, privilege, and the experience of racism
  • Parenting mixed race children (avoiding “colour-blindness” and those fetishised hashtags on social media)
  • How white parents can open dialogues that empower their mixed race children to talk about racism
  • The value of social media in creating connections, sharing ideas, and giving voice to minorities who are not always heard on mainstream platforms
  • But on the flip side, the deeply disturbing fetishisation of mixed race people – particularly mixed babies – and “blackfishing” trends (changing your appearance through make-up and hair to appear as though you have black heritage)
  • And Natalie’s rallying call to allies: “We need you to still care. We need that energy you had in the summer.”

Where to find Natalie online:

Where to find Sara: