• Hajar J Woodland

If you're like us, you'll love People Like Us

In our fourth guest special, Hajar speaks to Hashi Mohamed about his memoir People Like Us.

This is the Dabblers special you cannot miss.

Hashi Mohamed is a barrister, author and broadcaster with serious views on social mobility.

Why? Because in the UK his journey from nine-year-old Kenyan-born Somali refugee to successful barrister is a remarkable one.

Book cover of People Like Us by Hashi Mohamed

It shouldn't be.

It shouldn't be amazing to us that a child builds the career they want through hard work and determination. But hard work and determination aren't ever the only deciding factors - especially if you go to an underperforming state school or if you're raised on benefits.

71% of people in Hashi's profession went to independent fee-paying schools. That would be fine if 71% of the country went to independent fee-paying schools, but of course they don't. Only 7% do. That's a grossly disproportionate number by anyone's measure.

And it doesn't, of course, stop with the legal profession. That disproportionality spans the top most lucrative and influential tiers of our power structures and industries.

And yet in the UK, we put up with it. Who knows whether that's because class is so linked to identity that the mere idea of needing to be socially mobile is insulting, or because those who've been through the class hurdles are simply too exhausted to try knocking them down.

Or perhaps, it's just the case that life is unfair and you make the best of your lot, whatever that is.

In his memoir, People Like Us: What it Takes to Make it in Modern Britain, Hashi explores both the ways in which he was able to build a career in an elite profession and the many barriers that children still face today.

This is an extraordinary and illuminating book that's also written with real heart and nuance. It will definitely ring true if you went to state school, and if you went to a fee-paying one or aren't familiar with the British education system, this book will open your eyes.

I was absolutely thrilled to speak to Hashi about his favourite novels, while sharing our very similar experiences of class and school.

If you only ever listen to ONE episode of The Dabblers' Book Club podcast, make it this one.