Maybe I Don’t Belong Here
One of the Observer’s Best Memoirs of 2021 and The Times Best Film and Theatre Books of the year.
‘As a Black British man I believe it is vital that I tell this story. It may be just one account from the perspective of a person of colour who has experienced this system, but it may be enough to potentially change an opinion or, more importantly, stop someone else from spinning completely out of control.’ – David Harewood
Is it possible to be Black and British and feel welcome and whole?
Maybe I Don’t Belong Here is a deeply personal exploration of the duality of growing up both Black and British, recovery from crisis and a rallying cry to examine the systems and biases that continue to shape our society.
In this powerful and provocative account of a life lived after psychosis, critically acclaimed actor, David Harewood, uncovers devastating family history and investigates the very real impact of racism on Black mental health.
When David Harewood was twenty-three, his acting career beginning to take flight, he had what he now understands to be a psychotic breakdown and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He was physically restrained by six police officers, sedated, then hospitalized and transferred to a locked ward. Only now, thirty years later, has he been able to process what he went through.
What was it that caused this breakdown and how did David recover to become a successful and critically acclaimed actor? How did his experiences growing up Black and British contribute to a rupture in his sense of his place in the world?
‘Such a powerful and necessary read . . . Don’t wait until Black History Month to pick up this book, it’s a must-read just now.’ – Candice Brathwaite, author of I Am Not Your Baby Mother
‘David Harewood writes with rare honesty and fearless self-analysis about his experiences of racism and what ultimately led to his descent into psychosis . . . This book is, in itself, a physical manifestation of that hopeful journey.’ – David Olusoga, author of Black and British
I feel like I gained a friend in these these pages. It's a book that is written with honesty and humanity. I struggled to let the pages close - that's how invested I felt in David's story. I learned a little more about what it means to be black, a black man, a black British man who has struggled with mental health and grown as a result. It's a testament to his resilience, vulnerability and humility that we can all learn from. -- Jeffrey Boakye David Harewood writes with rare honesty and fearless self-analysis about his experiences of racism and what ultimately led to his descent into psychosis at the age of twenty-three. With equal candour, David plots the story of his recovery. This book is, in itself, a physical manifestation of that hopeful journey. -- David Olusoga Heartwarming, eye-opening, gut-wrenching. David Harewood's brutally honest account of his experiences in the mental health system should force us all to examine the impact that our past has on our lives. Maybe I Don't Belong Here shines a light on the interplay between race, identity and mental well-being with tremendous moral courage. -- David Lammy Maybe I Don't Belong Here... demonstrates how those in the public eye can use their profiles to try and lever positive change... Immensely powerful. -- The Bookseller This is an amazing book. Only an actor could capture the double-consciousness of being Black and British so beautifully. Playing a role while simultaneously trying to be true to yourself. For me this held both lessons and affirmations of what it means to be a Black British man and the struggles to reconcile our inherent contradictions. Maybe I Don't Belong Here is also absolutely brilliant in illustrating the importance of RADA and what we need to do to prepare RADA students to not just be the best actors and technicians they can be, but the best human beings -- Marcus Ryder Brutally honest, brave and enlightening, David Harewood's memoir and account of his breakdown is a fascinating read. Well-written and researched, this is a book that makes you wonder about our mental health system, about othering and racism in Britain and all the other black men who haven't made it through to the other side. But it's also a love letter to Harewood's friends, parents and a tribute to his determination to succeed against the odds. -- Kit de Waal
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