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‘A compelling and courageous memoir forcing the legal profession to confront uncomfortable truths about race and class. Alexandra Wilson is a bold and vital voice. This is a book that urgently needs to be read by everyone inside, and outside, the justice system.’ THE SECRET BARRISTER
‘A riveting book in the best tradition of courtroom dramas but from the fresh perspective of a young female mixed-race barrister. That Alexandra is “often” mistaken for the defendant shows how important her presence at the bar really is.’ MATT RUDD, THE SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE
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’.
In her debut book, In Black and White, Alexandra re-creates the tense courtroom scenes, the heart-breaking meetings with teenage clients, and the moments of frustration and triumph that make up a young barrister’s life.
Alexandra shows us how it feels to defend someone who hates the colour of your skin, or someone you suspect is guilty. We see what it is like for children coerced into county line drug deals and the damage that can be caused when we criminalise teenagers.
Alexandra’s account of what she has witnessed as a young mixed-race barrister is in equal parts shocking, compelling, confounding and powerful.
‘An inspirational, clear-eyed account of life as a junior barrister is made all the more exceptional by the determination, passion, humanity and drive of the author. Anyone interested in seeing how the law really works should read it.‘
‘This is the story of a young woman who overcame all the obstacles a very old profession could throw at her, and she survived, with her integrity intact.’
‘Wilson offers a role model for those who still think the law is for other people, and shows the way for English courts to become ever less Dickensian.’
DAVID COWAN, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT