At the start of 2021, we in the UK found ourselves entering a national lockdown once again. In July, I wrote a post about the books and online platforms that helped me get through the first national lockdown. I wanted to share some more online platforms that I’ve enjoyed using lately, and also discuss books I’m excited about that are out early 2021.
I want to stress that I don’t believe that everyone has to use their time “productively” during lockdown if they don’t feel like it. If you’d rather spend your time in bed or watching Netflix, that’s fine too. Do you! If you’re interested in learning something new, networking online or just after some book recommendations, keep reading.
IF YOU’RE THE CREATIVE TYPE
The Dots is described as “a professional network for people that don’t wear suits to work.” I began using The Dots more regularly during the pandemic. I find it more relaxed and less intimidating than LinkedIn. If you’re an entrepreneur, freelancer, or work in the creative industries, I recommend signing up to the Dots. It feels like a warm and welcome community in many ways. I’ve connected with some great people on there and there’s a host of brilliant free/affordable (virtual) events on there too.
Skillshare is an online platform that hosts thousands of classes aimed at creative and curious types. I used it for the first time about two years ago and immediately loved it. It’s easy to navigate and learners can complete classes at their own pace. My favourite class so far is Creative Writing: Crafting Personal Essays with Impact led by writer and professor Roxane Gay. Skillshare’s free classes are pretty decent, but in my opinion, it’s worth paying for the Premium plan. If you sign up using my link, you can get two weeks of Premium for free.
IF YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR DIGITAL SKILLS
I recently discovered this education company while browsing virtual events on The Dots. GA has genuinely been a Godsend during the pandemic while I’ve been unemployed. I’ve attended several free online workshops which have been fantastic. My favourites include ‘How to build a personal brand’ and ‘Creating the Ultimate CV’.
If you want to upskill but don’t know where to start, or just in need of some inspiration, you should check out General Assembly’s free events.
If you’re keen to develop your digital skills while you have extra time on your hands, Google’s Digital Garage is where it’s at. This platform offers free digital training and courses led by industry experts and the majority of courses are free.
You may have already heard of Codecademy. The online learning platform offers free coding classes in a variety of programming languages. I’ve been telling myself that I should learn to code for years and recently logged back into my Codecademy account to make a start. I like how easy it is to use and keep track of your progress. Codecademy offers paid membership plans for those who want to access the more advanced tools and features, but the free membership is great too.
IF YOU LOVE READING
If you’re keen to read more and don’t often buy or pick up physical books, I suggest checking out online bookclub The Pigeonhole. It’s available as a mobile app and works by releasing books in bite-sized instalments so users can read a little bit at a time. I really like this app. I discovered it in 2019 when I listened to an audio serialisation of Take It Back by Kia Abdullah on the app. If you spend a lot of time on your phone and love reading, it’s worth signing up to The Pigeonhole. It offers a great range of recent and older titles and is free to sign up.
BOOKS TO READ DURING LOCKDOWN:
It’s been widely reported that the coronavirus pandemic has further widened the UK’s ethnic wealth gap. In addition to BAME communities facing a higher risk of illness and death, our finances are more likely to have been negatively impacted by COVID. Last year, I was shocked to learn that Black African households on average have just 10p for every £1 that white households have. This is a big reason why I’m more serious about improving my financial literacy this year.
It’s nice to have a finance book written by a black woman. I’ve already read a couple of chapters and after listening to Flavius’ podcast, I’m excited to dive into this book properly.
The title caught my eye and I ordered this straight away. At a time when we seem to be having more frequent conversations about capitalism, work and labour, this sounds like a timely and somewhat urgent book that everyone should read. It’s described as a “deeply-reported examination of why “doing what you love” is a recipe for exploitation, creating a new tyranny of work in which we cheerily acquiesce to doing jobs that take over our lives.”
I included a fiction book here because I think we could all do with some escapism right now. This short story anthology featuring British women of colour writers is one of my most anticipated 2021 releases. The line-up is incredible. I was so happy to see that Kelechi Okafor and Danielle Dash were among the contributors. I’ll always be here for romance fiction written by and featuring black women and women of colour.
Out 4th March via Trapeze / Hachette
Over the years, Kinouani’s award-winning blog Race Reflections has deepened my understanding of racial inequality and white supremacy and broadened my perspectives on race and racism. 2020 felt like a year of intense, never-ending and inescapable racial trauma for black people in particular. I’ve become increasingly interested in the psychological impact of racism and how race-based trauma affects our mental and emotional wellbeing. I have so much respect and admiration for Kinouani’s work and can’t explain how much I’m looking forward to reading Living While Black.
Out 15th April via Ebury Press / Penguin Random House.
How are you keeping yourself stimulated and entertained during this lockdown?