The Hyphen: Making Change Requires More Than Just Hashtags

Hi friends—

How are you doing this week?

Sending a lot of love to anyone who is feeling it — to those who have been directly affected or personally emotionally triggered by what they are seeing related to Black Lives Matter. To everyone else: if you are feeling discomfort, tension, overwhelm, rage, sadness: it means you’re paying attention. We must lean into it, feel the feelings, and act on them. As Ahmed Ali tweeted: It's a privilege to learn about racism instead of experiencing it your whole life.” It’s okay to get it wrong sometimes — it’s not okay to say or do nothing.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by general life I wanted to share this handy little YouTube video that helps calm your body and mind down. (It was originally shared by one of my favourite writers/podcasters Jenna Wortham — definitely check out her podcast Still Processing). Remember you can stay very much engaged and focused and involved without burning yourself out with obsessive Internet use.

I felt weird about the black square — it felt shallow and performative when you think about the actual work that needs to be done. I guess it just reminded me of all those times we would all post our ‘thoughts and prayers’ online when global atrocities happened before moving on and going back to the bubble of daily life. Black square or no black square, this is about making sure we all step in, pull up, and take action persistently — not just for a week. Black Lives Matter is not just a hashtag. Anti-racism work isn’t just joining in with whatever is popular on Instagram on a particular day. It’s about doing the work, consistently, longterm.

I couldn’t help but feel a jolt of momentary happiness when scrolling through the Amazon bestseller book charts this week. Reni-Eddo Lodge at number 1 with Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, closely followed by Layla Saad, Candice Brathwaite, Candice-Carty-Williams, Akala, Bernadine Evaristo. All fabulous books, and scraping the surface of what’s out there to read by BIPOC authors. If you aren’t able to invest in many books right now, why not team up with a group of mates, each buy a book of choice and then swap at the end of the month?

I really hope these books aren’t spiking in sales just for this week — I hope they continue to sell and that publishers / editors / agents continue to publish & commission books by writers from all different backgrounds. And commission more BIPOC writers to write about things other than race. (I found this thread interesting).

Companies, brands, industries: we are watching.

Hope you enjoy today’s newsletter. (If there’s anything you’d like me to share in next week’s newsletter, please email me at

Emma xo


This week’s Ctrl Alt Delete episode:

This week's podcast episode is with the incredible Layla Saad, New York Times Bestselling Author of Me and White Supremacy.

We recorded this a month ago but this episode is *full* of information and practical resources. We cover so so much, from white fragility, how to speak up, and why anti-racism work is important even if you think you're "one of the good ones".

Any advertising revenue made from this episode will be donated to the Black Lives Matter fund.

Listen here. And on any pod apps.


Things I've consumed this week...



I discovered the incredible artist Azure Antoinette this week. She has been called "the Maya Angelou of the Millennial generation” and is a commissioned poet, entrepreneur, and arts education advocate. I heard speak so powerfully on an Instagram Live this week and can’t stop thinking about it. I recommend following her work asap.

I really enjoyed listening to Jameela Jamil speak to Reese Witherspoon about passing the mic, creating jobs for others, and some really great stuff on body image too. In fact the whole podcast series, called i Weigh, is really fab. You can listen here.

The podcast ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ by Sophie Elwes. Sophie knows a lot about overcoming difficulties, after sustaining a spinal cord injury in 2011. She interviews an extraordinary guest in each episode who has faced and overcome enormous challenges and is achieving incredible things in spite of what they've had to deal with. Listen here!



The book that’s getting everyone talking.

'It'll give a voice to countless women'


OLIVE is publishing in hardback on 23rd July 2020! I think you’re going to really enjoy getting to know Olive.

You can pre-order here!

In Case You Missed It:

— I wrote a piece for ELLE UK in their brand new issue on why I’m not sure about having kids — out now in print.

— Have you joined The Hyphen Book Club? I picked this month's book club pick, it's Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny. Join in, grab a copy, and follow the Instagram page here! 


Thanks for subscribing! I'm Emma, the person behind this newsletter. I am the bestselling author of The Multi-Hyphen Method and the soon-to-be-published novel OLIVE, and creator of the hit podcast series Ctrl Alt Delete. You can also follow me on Instagram here, and Twitter here.

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