Book Review – Twice As Hard: Navigating Black Stereotypes and Creating Space for Success by Opeyemi Sofoluke and Raphael Sofoluke

First published, 2021

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

In this beautifully written and thoughtful book, the authors explain, through personal experience in the world of business and finance, and through interviews with prominent people from various fields, how to be an entrepreuner and deal with other people’s expectations and prejudices when you’re Black. They also explain, in succinct and easy-to-implement style, how to be a true ally to the Black community in work and in life, whatever your background.

It’s remarkably positive and left me feeling motivated:

“A common phrase used by many Nigerians is, ‘Those at the top do not have two heads.’ In other words, there is nothing stopping you from succeeding. Those who have achieved success do not possess a physical superpower – if they can do it, you can do it, too.”
Page 52, Chapter One – Who Do People Say You Are? Building Your Brand by Opeyemi Sofoluke, Twice as Hard by Opeyemi Sofoluke and Raphael Sofoluke

I really loved this book. Having grown up in a multicultural community through my childhood, and having missed that through my teens (when we moved to East Devon), I consider myself an ally to the Black community but it’s definitely instructive to be sat down and told: this is how you can help.

This book has a lot to say about finding your opportunities and the struggles that you will face, but that you can rise above:

“A former student, who went to Eton in the 1980s, stated that ‘kids arrived there with this extraordinary sense that they knew they were going to run the country’. According to reports, the school puts a premium on individualism and encourages students to pursue any dream they might have. The encouragement given to those at private school as opposed to those in state schools creates a chasm of opportunity. This unfair disadvantage only serves to reinforce our point made earlier that ‘talent is equally distributed; opportunity is not.’”
Page 73, Chapter Two – The Power of Your Network, Creating an Elite Circle by Raphael Sofoluke, Twice as Hard by Opeyemi Sofoluke and Raphael Sofoluke

I have a cousin, a good few years my senior, who’s been in business for decades, and I would recommend this book to him. This isn’t simply a book for Black people who want to succeed; this is a book for everyone who wants to make things better for people. There are plenty of examples within this book, where the authors tell the reader of times when they, and those they’ve interviewed, have had to explain and define their culture, keep people from reaching out and touching their hair, when they’ve felt the weight of having to represent all Black people everywhere, and facing an uphill battle in so doing because the person they’re dealing with has their own preconceived notions of who they’re talking to.

And this fascinating comment on the subject of not seeing colour or not seeing race:
“Acknowledging the challenge and struggle that the Black community experiences requires you to see colour – it requires you to be attentive to the differences in experiences people face because of their colour. To not see colour is to be dismissive of the challenges Black people face because of their appearance.”
Page 291, Chapter Eight – “Ally” – It’s A Doing Word, What It Really Means to Support the Black Community by Opeyemi Sofoluke, Twice as Hard by Opeyemi Sofoluke and Raphael Sofoluke

It’s not the easiest subject. Lord knows, it’s one most of us are trapped by because we are so sure that we don’t know any racists, or if we did, we’d kill that friendship dead. But is that really true? And as much as each of us thinks we’re good people, are we really doing all we can to help and promote our friends?