Stormzy reveals first independent title to be released on #Merky Books

"This book seeks to fill the gap of often incomplete conversations about widening participation and inclusion at university."

The first independent title to be released on Stormzy‘s imprint with Penguin Books has been revealed – and it’s a vital look at the barriers faced by ethnic minorities in gaining access to higher education.

Taking Up Space is a joint effort by recent Cambridge graduates Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi. Billed as a “guide for manifesto and change”, it aims to tackle issues of access, university life and discrimination within the classroom.

Kwakye was the only black girl in her school year to read History at Homerton College, Cambridge. She recently graduated with first-class honours. Ogunbiyi, meanwhile, graduated from Cambridge with a degree in Politics and International Relations.

View this post on Instagram

Chelsea Kwakye 👩🏾‍🎓: A 21-year-old first-class honours History graduate from Homerton College, Cambridge. She attended Chingford Foundation School and was the only person in her year to be offered a place at Oxbridge. Whilst at Cambridge she was the only black girl in her year group of around 200 people studying History, making it a very difficult environment to navigate. In her final year, she was Vice-President of the African-Caribbean Society, competed in Cambridge vs. Oxford Varsity Athletics match. Now post-graduation, she will start at the University of Law in preparation for her training contract with a city law firm in London starting in 2020. #TakingUpSpace #merkybooks

A post shared by Taking Up Space (@takingupspacebook) on

View this post on Instagram

Ore Ogunbiyi 👩🏾‍🎓: A 21-year-old HSPS (Politics and International Relations) graduate from Jesus College, Cambridge, particularly interested in African politics and race relations. She’s been behind the Benin Bronze repatriation campaign, the #BlackMenofCambridgeUniversity campaign and was also President of the university’s African-Caribbean Society 17/18. She was born in England but moved to Nigeria at the age of 7. She returned to England at 13, and attended Woldingham School. She is hoping to become an international broadcast journalist and having received a scholarship, she is currently studying a Master’s in Journalism at Columbia University, New York. #TakingUpSpace #merkybooks

A post shared by Taking Up Space (@takingupspacebook) on

“Diversity and inclusion have become buzzwords, especially in education, but it is time that we had honest conversations about what those two words truly mean, especially for young black girls”, the pair commented in a joint statement.

“Through our stories and the experiences of past and present university students, this book seeks to fill the gap of often incomplete conversations about widening participation and inclusion at university. It will be the book that we wish we had before going into university and we hope it provides a comfort to those who will inevitably share our experiences.”

Announcing #Merky books in July, Stormzy said: “I know too many talented writers that don’t always have an outlet or a means to get their work seen and hopefully #Merky Books can be a reference point for them to say ‘I can be an author’ and for that to be a realistic and achievable goal.”