So You Want to Talk About Race
In this breakout book, Ijeoma Oluo explores the complex reality of today's racial landscape--from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement--offering straightforward clarity that readers need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divideIn So You Want to Talk About Race, Editor at Large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don't dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans. Oluo is an exceptional writer with a rare ability to be straightforward, funny, and effective in her coverage of sensitive, hyper-charged issues in America. Her messages are passionate but finely tuned, and crystalize ideas that would otherwise be vague by empowering them with aha-moment clarity. Her writing brings to mind voices like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay, and Jessica Valenti in Full Frontal Feminism, and a young Gloria Naylor, particularly in Naylor's seminal essay "The Meaning of a Word."

So You Want to Talk About Race Details

TitleSo You Want to Talk About Race
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 16th, 2018
PublisherSeal Press
ISBN-139781580056779
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Race, Social Movements, Social Justice, Politics, Writing, Essays

So You Want to Talk About Race Review

  • Ben Babcock
    January 1, 1970
    Do you ever accidentally inhale a book? Like, you meant to read it with your eyes, but, whoops, suddenly there it is, lodged in your esophagus and now you have to go to the hospital and explain, in various gestures, how you breathed in an entire book? This happens to me more often than I would like to admit. So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo, is just the latest instance. Thankfully, this was an eARC from NetGalley (thanks Perseus Books) and not a physical volume—though I’m certainly Do you ever accidentally inhale a book? Like, you meant to read it with your eyes, but, whoops, suddenly there it is, lodged in your esophagus and now you have to go to the hospital and explain, in various gestures, how you breathed in an entire book? This happens to me more often than I would like to admit. So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo, is just the latest instance. Thankfully, this was an eARC from NetGalley (thanks Perseus Books) and not a physical volume—though I’m certainly going to need to buy one, or maybe two, when it comes out.This book is the first in what will hopefully be an avalanche of books to plug an embarrassing hole in my ongoing education. I’m trying to ride the intersectionality train, but if I’m doing an honest accounting of things, I have not been doing a great job of reading books by Black women when it comes to issues like feminism and race. It has literally been a whole year since I read Roxane Gay’s amazing short story collection Difficult Women. More recently I did read Between the World and Me , and Coates obviously touches on some of the same issues that Oluo does here. But the two books are very different, both in terms of audience and purpose.So You Want to Talk About Race is clear and upfront about what it is and what it is trying to do. Oluo is uncompromising (emphasis mine):So a good question to ask yourself right now is: why are you here? Did you pick up this book with the ultimate goal of getting people to be nicer to each other? Did you pick up this book with the goal of making more friends of different races? Or did you pick up this book with the goal of helping fight a system of oppression that is literally killing people of color? Because if you insist on holding to a definition of racism that reduces itself to “any time somebody is mean to somebody of a different race” then this is not the book to accomplish your goals. Each chapter title is a question, the chapter being Oluo’s answer: “What if I talk about race wrong?”, “Why am I always being told to check my privilege”, “What is cultural appropriation?”, “What are microaggressions?”, “I just got called racist, what do I do now?”—there seventeen, so I won’t list them all here, but they are, every single one, fantastic. I could go on, chapter-by-chapter, for quite some length about all the wonderful parts of this book. Instead, I’ll highlight some of her explanation of cultural appropriation:Cultural appropriation is the product of a society that prefers its culture cloaked in whiteness. Cultural appropriation is the product of a society that only respects culture cloaked in whiteness. Without that—if all culture (even the culture that appropriators claim to love and appreciate) were equally desired and respected, then imitations of other cultures would look like just that—imitations. If all cultures were equally respected, then wearing a feathered headdress to Coachella would just seem like the distasteful decision to get trashed in sacred artifacts….… because we do not live in a society that equally respects all cultures, the people of marginalized cultures are still routinely discriminated against for the same cultural practices that white cultures are adopting and adapting for the benefit of white people.I’ve had the cultural appropriation conversation with fellow white people before, and I’ve struggled to explain it sufficiently (the best I can do is link to this explainer from Everyday Feminism). Oluo’s chapter has helped me to realize that, often, I make the mistake of letting the conversation fall back into the unproductive territory of discussing specific examples (“well what about X, is X cultural appropriation?”) when (a) I can’t answer that because I’m not a member of that culture and (b) that’s not actually what cultural appropriation is about. Cultural appropriation, as Oluo explains here, is about the wider trends and power imbalances within our society. It’s why, to certain parts of white society, Macklemore is an artist while Tupac was a thug. But my conversations would often divert away from these crucial parts of the discussion, straying towards the more defensive territories (see Chapter 16: “I just got called racist, what do I do now?”).This book is full of so many useful ideas, tips, and strategies—particularly for white people who want to be allies to racialized people. The aforementioned chapter 16 and chapter 4, which deals with privilege and “checking” it, are both essential reminders, even for someone like myself who has already been engaging with social justice for a while now. I’ve carefully avoided using the word “primer” to describe this book. It’s accurate, but I don’t want to pigeonhole it as some kind of introductory text. Certainly, if you are a newcomer to these issues, this book is accessible. But there is so much here for readers of every level of familiarity with the issues. If you are truly open to learning more about social justice and how to dismantle institutionalized racism, you are going to find useful ideas here, in plain language you’ll understand, and in a tone that helps you hear her frustration but also her intense empathy for humanity, and her hope for a better future (because you don’t write a book like this if you think dismantling racism is a lost cause). Oluo’s writing style never wavers from being confrontational and candid—she is not trying to appease anyone—but it’s also witty and incisive.A few parts of this book get a little bit into specifics of American anti-Black racism, but by and large, almost all of the topics for discussion are relevant to a wider audience. As Oluo herself points out, Canada has its share of problems with racism. (A lot of it is directed much more vociferously towards Indigenous people—if you want momre information on that, check out Chelsea Vowel’s Indigenous Writes , or Tanya Talaga’s Seven Fallen Feathers , about the intersection of racism and violence in my own city of Thunder Bay. For writing on anti-Black racism in Canada, particularly state-sponsored racism like carding and brutality, I’ll point you towards Desmond Cole.) Moreover, Canada absorbs (whether we like it or not) much of its cultural fare from our neighbours down south, so even if policies like affirmative action or United States Supreme Court decisions don’t quite affect us in the same way, the attitudes seen in media and the language being used still does. I never felt like Oluo was losing me by spending too much time talking about American-specific concerns.So I can make a few guarantees, here. First, if you read this, you’re going to learn something—hopefully lots of things. Oluo will crystallize notions that might already be forming in your head or introduce you to ideas and show you a new way entirely of looking at things. Second, if you read this, you will come away with a praxis for actually doing the work—it isn’t enough to read books like this and then pat yourself on the back for being “woke”. That’s what the final chapter is all about, and boy, are there ever some practical tips. That’s why I’m going to be buying a copy of this book since I received a review copy for free—because we need to pay Black women when they do the work of educating us.So You Want to Talk About Race is everything I’d look for in a book on social justice issues. It’s informative, educational, and thought-provoking. It is topical in the post-Trump sense of the word. It hits that sweet spot of being academic and smart but also accessible—this is by far one of my favourite non-fiction books I’ve read all year, and probably the best I’ve received on NetGalley ( Beyond Trans and The Radium Girls are close runners-up).If you are at all interested in social justice, in dismantling racism, in making our world a better place, this is a must-read. Show up. Do the work.
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  • Gary Moreau
    January 1, 1970
    What author would write a book with a target audience that is likely to consider reading it, much less paying for it, akin to wishing for a root canal? Apparently, Ijeoma Oluo. I am a white, sexagenarian, male, and former CEO. I am, therefore, a r#cist. (And yes, I am being sensitive to the censors who will look at this before posting it.) And I accept that because this isn’t about me. My personal tolerance is irrelevant. If a picture says a thousand words, an action is worth ten thousand pictur What author would write a book with a target audience that is likely to consider reading it, much less paying for it, akin to wishing for a root canal? Apparently, Ijeoma Oluo. I am a white, sexagenarian, male, and former CEO. I am, therefore, a r#cist. (And yes, I am being sensitive to the censors who will look at this before posting it.) And I accept that because this isn’t about me. My personal tolerance is irrelevant. If a picture says a thousand words, an action is worth ten thousand pictures. That is how we should judge each other.From my very privileged position in America, I have had a bird’s eye view of the systemic, institutional privilege (which in the negative is discrimination) that currently defines virtually all Western institutions today, including virtually all corporations. Women have not shattered the corporate glass ceiling because the corporate institution was designed and built by men. Blacks have not achieved equity in the economic arena because it was designed by white men. Which is why, as Ijeoma points out, it really doesn’t matter if the man in charge is a racist or a misogynist or not.The #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements are all about gender and racial bias. What has enabled misogyny and racism, however, is the definition and allocation of power in our institutions and our society. Tolerance is great, but it’s nowhere near enough. Until we challenge the structure of power, we will not address the underlying cause of social and economic injustice.Here are the main takeaways I got from this book:- It’s not about me or Ijeoma. This is about structural injustice.- It’s not about the tone of the discussion. This is about structural injustice.- It’s not about intent. This is about structural injustice.- It’s not about who is right and who is wrong. This is about structural injustice.- It’s not about who can use what words. This is about structural injustice.In the end, the great strength and the great weakness of our political economy is our over-riding emphasis on the individual and his or her opportunities and rights. There’s nothing wrong with that per se. But in this crowded, technologically enabled world we live in, it’s not enough. We can live individually but we can only be judged collectively. Our insistence that every conversation be about me, or you, or Ijeoma, or that person over there, is blinding us to the degree that we really are all in this together.Scientists used to view the environment as a collection of independent and discrete parts. There was a prairie here, an Arctic ice field there, and a rain forest someplace a long way away. They now realize, however, that there is only one ecosystem and what happens in the rain forest is just as important as what happens in the Iowa corn field.Other scientists have discovered the same thing about the other hard and soft sciences. Biology and economics don’t cut it any more. We have to think in terms of evolutionary biology and behavioral economy. Real knowledge lies not just within a functional discipline, but also in the spaces that separates them and the overlaps that interconnect them.So, I go back to my original question. Why did Ijeoma write this book? I won’t pretend to know the answer but it is clear that she has a genuine desire to see us face the issue. And after reading this book it is clear that the desire is genuine. And while it is theoretically true that if she is successful she will have to find something new to write about, so what? That is exactly the kind of binary, digital thinking that is at the heart of the problem. Life is not either/or. It is, with tolerance, and/but.Ijeoma has a perspective. And the tone is sometimes a bit harsh. But how could it not be? In the end I think the most amazing and laudable thing about her language is that she obviously worked so hard to keep a lid on her passion. If she were white, we would elect her to high office.Am I appropriating Ijeoma’s book by writing this review? Yes. But that’s irrelevant. I am not her. And my appropriation is going to paint racism with a white brush and, potentially, demean that pain. But that is the thinking of a binary thinker—either/or. And that, in the end, is what we have to overcome. Tolerant people are not binary thinkers. Tolerance is not a function of embracing the other side of the binary issue. It is about eliminating the binary divide. Ultimately, the racism talked about here is about institutional models of power that disadvantage one group over another. (And, as Ijeoma points out, there are many.)In the end, I won’t say this was the most pleasant read. It was, however, a good read. It made me think. And for that I am grateful to the author. I won’t say, “well done,” because that would be an appropriation, as if I could evaluate how well she had represented her pain. I can’t. It’s hers, not mine. I will say, however, that “I listened.” And I listened because you were clear and authentic. And I do thank you for that.A must read. Period.
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  • Trish
    January 1, 1970
    People of every race are going to read this book—at least I hope they are. It is not written just for people still denying that racism exists in America today, but for people who know it does but do not recognize the myriad ways it manifests. Oluo writes so clearly and simply, this book just a pleasure to read, despite addressing emotionally sensitive material. It is so well-conceived and executed that one could use it as a handbook for group discussion, one or two chapters a meeting, talking ov People of every race are going to read this book—at least I hope they are. It is not written just for people still denying that racism exists in America today, but for people who know it does but do not recognize the myriad ways it manifests. Oluo writes so clearly and simply, this book just a pleasure to read, despite addressing emotionally sensitive material. It is so well-conceived and executed that one could use it as a handbook for group discussion, one or two chapters a meeting, talking over what she has presented. Those discussions can be within one's own group, and do not need to include people outside one's race unless they want to be there, e.g. white people should be talking to white people. We have a lot to discover about ourselves, our culture, how our political and economic systems affect racist ideas. She gives us the tools to begin that work, and suggests that we not make black people the sounding boards for our own anxieties—anxieties about how we are perceived, or mistakes we may have made or…whatever. It's not about us.Oluo’s book builds on earlier books on this theme in the best way possible: You Can’t Touch My Hair by podcaster Phoebe Robinson, and Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race by British journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge, were both enormously helpful in raising some of the issues Oluo addresses with such clarity. Oluo organizes the material so that we are focused on behaviors or questions we will recognize if we have thought about these issues at all, such as "How do I talk to my mother about racist jokes she makes?" "Is police brutality really about race?" "What are microaggressions?" "Is it race or class that separates us?" "What is intersectionality?" "I was called out for being racist but I don’t know what I did wrong."Oluo suggests ways to approach these questions, and tells us what is not okay. She says there are basic rules, which we might understand to be immutable rules: --It is about race if a person of color thinks it is about race.--It is about race if it disproportionately or differently affects people of color.--It is about race if it fits into a broader pattern of events that disproportionately or differently affects people of color. While Oluo will concede that in the context of the points made above, “just about everything is about race…” Pause here. This is such a critical point that is too easily missed. White people do not generally talk about race, do not think about race because they are in a white supremacist society. Understand this to mean that white is privileged in our society, and until recently was the largest population group, using their own means of measuring “white.” White is a race, like other races. We just haven’t had to think about it as such. Oluo goes on to say “…almost nothing is about race.” Pause again. That would be true also. Race doesn’t even show up genetically. White Americans have more genetic difference with other Europeans than we do with Black Americans. It’s culture and context that rubs us differently. But Oluo goes through all this carefully, spending some time defining what racism is. She warns us that talking about race will make us uncomfortable. We need to forgive ourselves if we make mistakes, but we also have to forgive others who are trying to understand what they do not now understand. “You’re going to screw this up,” Oluo tells us, but you can prepare, and try to lessen the amount of times you get it wrong. She helps by talking this out. This is not easy stuff. Racial justice activist Debby Irving agrees. Just when we think we understand what privilege is, we might discover we don’t know how to explain it, or give examples of it, or even recognize it immediately. We need to change something so basic as our vocabulary, and everyone who has learned a new language knows how hard that can be. Our behaviors are often habituated, learned when we were children, and some need to change. Change is hard, but not impossible.Oluo sticks with the practical ways she has lived with and uncovered her own lack of understanding around race--for instance, not making enough effort to understand what underlies the term Asian American. That particular chapter, “What is the model minority myth?” is enormously informative. We learn the large number of sub-groups fall under the category of Asian American, and how they are doing in our economy.It seems hard to believe this book came out only a month ago, in January 2018. I am so thrilled there is such useful material now to help us with our own conversations with family, friends, and colleagues about race. I recommend buying this one. You will be grateful for this resource. You will probably need to refer to it again and again, or pass it around, when your conversations raise some of the questions Oluo deals with here.
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  • Jenna
    January 1, 1970
    "You are either fighting the system, or you are complicit. There is no neutrality to be had towards systems of injustice—it is not something you can just opt out of." Sometimes you read a book so powerful and so important that you wish everybody would read it. So You Want to Talk About Race is one of those books. I highlighted so many sentences and entire paragraphs that I'm glad it's a Kindle version and not a print book. It is such a compelling and thought-provoking read and I learned a great "You are either fighting the system, or you are complicit. There is no neutrality to be had towards systems of injustice—it is not something you can just opt out of." Sometimes you read a book so powerful and so important that you wish everybody would read it. ​So You Want to Talk About Race​ is one of those books. I highlighted so many sentences and entire paragraphs that I'm glad it's a Kindle version and not a print book. It is such a compelling and thought-provoking read and I learned a great deal from it. ​Ijeoma Oluo​ writes passionately about racial issues and racial injustice​,​ about systemic racism in America and the horrible effects they have had and continue to have on people of colour.​ She provides clear explanations of exactly what racism is and shows why all white people are guilty of it, no matter how insistent we are that we are not. She discusses intersectionality, showing the complex ways in which people either have privilege or do not. For instance, I am a cis-gender white woman. As such, I have benefits and opportunities that are not available to transgender people and people of colour. She encourages us not to focus on the identities that give us less privilege, but to always look for and be aware of the things that grant us privilege and unfair advantage over others. I found Ms. Oluo's definition of privilege to be very helpful: "Privilege, in the social justice context, is an advantage or a set of advantages that you have that others do not. These privileges are not due 100 percent to your efforts (although your hard work may indeed have helped), and the benefits of these privileges are disproportionately large or at least partially undeserved when compared to what the privilege is for.​ I loved this book because it made me think and encouraged me to look more deeply into myself. It made me more aware of the ways in which I might be showing my racism without even knowing it. Cultural appropriation is ​another topic that I found to be very helpful. It reminded me of how, back in my 20s (many years ago!), I used to wear a bindi on my forehead. It was fashionable at the time and I thought they were very beautiful. Once, an Indian woman let me know that she was very offended that I was wearing it. I was shocked. I didn't understand why she wouldn't be pleased that I liked something in her culture enough to adopt it for myself. I wondered if maybe it was just because she was elderly that she was offended. Thankfully, though I didn't understand at the time, I had enough sense to go home and throw them all away. I figured that even if she was just being over-sensitive (she was not, but in my ignorance I thought that at the time), I still did not want to do something that would cause another person offense or harm. Ms. Oluo helped me see why I was wrong and why this woman was offended and had every right to be. As she explains, cultural appropriation is "is the expectation that a dominant culture can just take and enjoy and profit from the beauty and art and creation of an oppressed culture, without taking on any of the pain and oppression people of that culture had to survive while creating it​."​There are several instances in this book where I had to pause for awhile to take it all in, ponder it, look unflinchingly and honestly at myself. Is it fun? Nope. Does it feel good to see where I am wrong? Absolutely not. However, "the alternative to not being made aware of your privilege (no matter how it may sting) is your continued participation in the oppression of others.​" . Discomfort on my part is nothing compared to what people of colour suffer every day in this country. ​ If we truly are against racism and want to change the system, if we truly do want equality for everyone, then we must start with ourselves. And talk. Amd be open to criticism from others. Listen to people of colour (and other minorities). Stop being so defensive and insisting that our intentions are good. If you hurt someone, you hurt them. That does not change even if you had good intentions. ​So, yes, examine yourself and talk about race, but also act. If we truly want change, we will not be content to sit on the sidelines and allow injustice to happen. Ms. Oluo concludes the book with ways in which we can each do our part to put an end to racism. I am so grateful that there are books like this and commend the people of colour who are bravely speaking out and about these issues, who are putting themselves out there to help us learn. This book is a must-read for white people, but I think people of colour may find it helpful as well, particularly the parts on intersectionality. There are so many other things I could write about this book but this review has become lengthy and I would recommend that you who are reading this (if any have stuck with it this long!) read the book instead. If you find yourself balking at the notion that you too are racist (white reader), then perhaps you could start with reading White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism and then move on to this book. Both are extremely important and I'm glad I read White Fragility first. However, I think So You Want to Talk About Race​ is even more important and I learned even more from it. If you find yourself balking or digging in your heels and muttering to yourself all the reasons you're not racist or have good intentions, stop and "Ask yourself: Am I trying to be right, or am I trying to do better?" . If you are trying to do better, then this is the book for you.
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  • Stacie C
    January 1, 1970
    So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo I loved this book. I finished it in a day simply devouring Oluo’s word. I can relate to so much of what Oluo was sharing and in so many ways it was validating but also depressing. I feel better knowing that I’m not the only person experiencing these microaggressions, working through these issues and surviving day to day but at the same time having these similar lived experiences makes me very well aware of how far we have to come in the U.S. when it So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo I loved this book. I finished it in a day simply devouring Oluo’s word. I can relate to so much of what Oluo was sharing and in so many ways it was validating but also depressing. I feel better knowing that I’m not the only person experiencing these microaggressions, working through these issues and surviving day to day but at the same time having these similar lived experiences makes me very well aware of how far we have to come in the U.S. when it comes to dealing with race, racism and equality. So You Want To Talk About Race is a really well written, comprehensive look at the issue of race and how race relates to inequality, success, poverty, education and much more. When I took a look at the contents of the book I was blown away because I could recognize immediately that these topics were geared towards having a thorough conversation about race and not just placating people who want to feel like they are putting in the work. She included topics like intersectionality, privilege, affirmative action and addressed them head on, pointing out the arguments in each and encouraging readers to recognize and acknowledge where they stand on these different issues. I was hooked from the first page of the introduction. Oluo has a very straightforward writing style and she is extremely well grounded in herself and her voice. That assuredness allowed Oluo to expose herself and her personal experiences in ways that I could never imagine. I hope this book speaks to you. I hope this book challenges you and makes you rethink your past experience. And that goes for every person regardless of race, gender, religion or anything in between. There were people that I had in mind while reading this book. Mostly people whose friendships I had to reevaluate in the last year because I realized how much of me they didn’t see and how much of my experience they didn’t recognize. Oluo’s book saw me and saw the struggle taking place right now. I am so thankful for this book and the effect that it could have on those willing to learn, willing to talk and willing to make a change when it comes to race.Thank you Netgalley for this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    This book is largely for non-POC who wish to be allies or POC who are in denial of, not aware of or unfamiliar with the systemic racism prevalent in American society. Unlike many other scholarly works on race, this book uses language that is accessible and could even be used in an AP Language course. Actually, it would probably be a great addition to an AP Language course. Most importantly, it needs to be read far and wide by teachers especially or anyone who works with POC.
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  • Truman32
    January 1, 1970
    So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo’s new book asks. I thought I did, but after reading several chapters I realized no, no I very much did not want to. I think I’d rather talk about my receding hairline, my cholesterol levels, the abnormally large size of my physician’s fingers (the yearly physical is coming up and it will be time once again to check out that ole prostate), just about anything really, because talking about race is uncomfortable, uncomfortable, uncomfortable. So You Want So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo’s new book asks. I thought I did, but after reading several chapters I realized no, no I very much did not want to. I think I’d rather talk about my receding hairline, my cholesterol levels, the abnormally large size of my physician’s fingers (the yearly physical is coming up and it will be time once again to check out that ole prostate), just about anything really, because talking about race is uncomfortable, uncomfortable, uncomfortable. So You Want to Talk About Race can be considered a manual for white liberals who fret about not working more to end racism as they peruse the shelves at Wholefoods for camel milk, emu eggs, and Kale ice cream. People like me who feel woke but maybe aren’t to the degree they think, and anyway should never be using the word woke in adult conversation under any circumstances. Oluo goes through a number of racial concepts: white privilege, systemic racism, police brutality, etc. Some of these arguments were complex and eye opening while others I found more remedial (Chapter 9: Why can’t I say the “N” word?, or Chapter 11: Why can’t I touch your hair? ). Overall, the arguments were well thought out and honest if more than a little difficult to digest (who wants to know that they are in fact not carrying their share of the workload in this important fight? As Oluo writes, “If you live in this system of White Supremacy you are either fighting the system or you are complicit.”) And it is frustrating knowing that not living the life of a person of color, I am limited in my understanding of the effects of systemic racism. While the subject and content in So You Want to Talk About Race is important and essential to our current climate, I struggled with Oluo’s writing. I felt on numerous occasions I was reading a dry textbook and finishing the 250 pages was a struggle. As I read, the words on each page seemed to multiply and I found my mind wandering and then having to reread what I had labored to get through the first time in an exhausting Sisyphean effort. I agreed with almost everything Oluo wrote, and the few ideas I struggled with I still understood the logic of her viewpoint, I just could not get into this book. Feeling guilty, I was going to add an additional star or two solely for the pressing subject matter, but that seemed a little self-indulgent. So three is what we have.
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  • Lata
    January 1, 1970
    Well-written book about an enormously painful and horrible system of oppression. Read this book if you want to learn how to talk about race, how to engage with a person of colour with real respect, empathy and a willingness to interrogate your conscious and unconscious biases and assumptions, and to begin doing more to change your attitudes and actions, as well as those around you.
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  • Meg Elison
    January 1, 1970
    Written tight as a logical proof and with a careful delivery so that the bad news can be heard by we who need to hear it most. A concrete and highly actionable discussion, reinforced with evidence and examples to make sure that the reader can connect. My fellow white folks: you need to read this. And as the introduction advises, sit with your discomfort when it arises. Even those of us who are trying have a lot to learn. Ms. Oluo has done us the favor of making this piece of our education afford Written tight as a logical proof and with a careful delivery so that the bad news can be heard by we who need to hear it most. A concrete and highly actionable discussion, reinforced with evidence and examples to make sure that the reader can connect. My fellow white folks: you need to read this. And as the introduction advises, sit with your discomfort when it arises. Even those of us who are trying have a lot to learn. Ms. Oluo has done us the favor of making this piece of our education affordable, and not very long.
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  • Obsidian
    January 1, 1970
    This book needs handed out in social studies courses in high school. Oluo packs so much in this book that I really do think is a good guide for people who have questions about race. She delves into all kinds of topics and I was here for them. Sometimes the writing gets a bit technical, but I think that a lot of pre-teens and above would do very well with reading this and having an honest conversation about race afterwards.As one of my friend's laments, "The reason why the United States still has This book needs handed out in social studies courses in high school. Oluo packs so much in this book that I really do think is a good guide for people who have questions about race. She delves into all kinds of topics and I was here for them. Sometimes the writing gets a bit technical, but I think that a lot of pre-teens and above would do very well with reading this and having an honest conversation about race afterwards.As one of my friend's laments, "The reason why the United States still has a huge problem with racism is that no one wants to be honest about it. Everyone wants to pretend that racism died when the North won the Civil War, and it didn't." Then she usually goes into a rant about how she almost got into a fight with someone who tried to explain to her how reverse racism is a thing (it freaking is not).Oulo breaks this book into 17 sections after her introduction. In each section she goes into some personal history and I wanted to read even more about her family and her experiences. I do follow her on Twitter, but have managed to not come across like a crazy fan. I just love reading her stuff. If you have time, check out her articles. One of her articles on Rachel Dolezal or whatever name she is going by now was a very insightful read. I am going to list out the chapters that I loved the best, everything that is not mentioned does not mean that I didn't enjoy it, I just loved these topics the most while reading.Chapter One: "Is it really about race?"-I love that Oluo breaks it down for people that seem to think that a Utopia United States that would fully embrace socialism will somehow make racism go away is not a thing. It drives me up the wall when people don't seem to get that.We have a class system in the United States that Oluo points out which is oppressive and violent and harms a lot of people of all races and it should be addressed and torn down, but that class system getting torn down doesn't mean that everything will magically become better.Oluo brings up labor movements and others which often pushed POC's issues to the back burner as something that would eventually get addressed. This is why I personally still keep struggling with the #metoo movement. It's not an intersectional movement. Chapter Three: "What if I talk about race wrong?"-I loved this one because Oluo brings up a conversation with her mother and I maybe sprayed water all over. I won't spoil it for you, but it's hilarious. But she does show a perfect example on how some allies out there need to listen a lot more instead of trying to tell people about their experiences.I personally get annoyed when I go to a party and I have some random person ask me so what do you think about race in this country? I seriously have had that happen a lot to me. I am not the sole voice in the African American community. Also stop doing that to people.Oluo goes into a lot of examples to show how to talk about race without forcing a POC to be on the defensive and or having to educate you while in the middle of a conversation.Chapter Five: "What is intersectionality and why do I need it?"- Oluo goes into Hoteps (shaking my head) and the importance of intersectionality and how people can be more thoughtful in ensuring that if you are having discussions about race how to increase the intersectionality in any discussions that you hold. Chapter Six: "Is police brutality really about race?"-Oluo provides readers with a story about how she when she got pulled over in 2015, she Tweeted about it. I don't do that because I am honestly too scared to move if I get pulled over. I was taught to keep hands on the wheel, make sure that you ask for permission to move, when moving still explain what you are doing, and be respectful and keep your eyes lowered. It's like being around a rabid dog that you are afraid is going to bite you. And this is coming from a POC that is friends with a ton of police officers and others in law enforcement. I have a different reality from my friends who are white. I have been in the cars with them when they have mouthed off to cops and in one case flipped the guy off when he was walking back to his patrol car. My only thought was, please don't let me get killed cause of this idiot here!Oluo breaks down the history behind police forces, and how they started off as Night Patrols who had the principal task of controlling black and Native American populations in England and Slave Patrols who had the principal task of catching escaped black slaves. She then segues into post-Reconstruction America and how the Jim Crow era morphed the police force into something else. Chapter Seven: "How Can I Talk About Affirmative Action?"-Such a good chapter. I loved it. My heart also break for Oluo and the coworker that she mentions. I think every POC has a story out there like these.Chapter Nine: "Why Can't I say the N word?"-Cause you freaking cannot. Enough said. Seriously though Oluo provides again a personal story about being called the N word and how it made her feel. And also explaining why it's not okay to say the word if you are not black. And last, but not least."Chapter Eleven: "Why Can't I Touch Your Hair"-Please stop touching people without permission. Oluo goes into her own personal history about her hair and about people who think that just cause they saw Chris Rock's "Good Hair" they are now the end all be all of knowing what black men and women deal with with regards to their hair. I personally relax my hair because that's my choice. Shoot, I want to have natural hair, but my hair dresser has point blank said, girl your hair grows too fast and is too thick. Have at it and God bless. LOL. I just don't have the patience for it. I do love black women's hairstyles. I love it when it's natural, relaxed, braided, etc. Do you know how much I loved Black Panther for showcasing women with their hair in all kinds of ways? I loved it a lot.
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  • Mehrsa
    January 1, 1970
    Everything she says is true and necessary, but it comes off more as a shallow lecture than anything new or different. I think it could be useful as a primer or to those who don't spend a lot of time reading about race.
  • Julie Ehlers
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a little torn on this book. It certainly provides a lot of facts and advances a lot of arguments that white Americans (all of us, no matter how woke we think we are) need to hear. In the current political climate a book like this is especially important. But I thought the writing was pretty mediocre for the most part; it was no Between the World and Me or We Gon' Be Alright. Still, I think this book does what it sets out to do, and I would not discourage anyone from reading it. In fact, if y I'm a little torn on this book. It certainly provides a lot of facts and advances a lot of arguments that white Americans (all of us, no matter how woke we think we are) need to hear. In the current political climate a book like this is especially important. But I thought the writing was pretty mediocre for the most part; it was no Between the World and Me or We Gon' Be Alright. Still, I think this book does what it sets out to do, and I would not discourage anyone from reading it. In fact, if you're white, I would encourage you to read it despite its flaws. And if you think you don't need to, that's probably a sign that you should.ETA: Last night (March 4, 2019) I was fortunate enough to go to an event featuring Ijeoma Oluo and she was COMPELLING. If you have a chance to see her, please do it. I'm hoping she's able to translate that voice to her next book (which she's working on now), but regardless I will definitely be reading it and any other book she puts out.
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  • Kate ☀️ Olson
    January 1, 1970
    Hands-down the most approachable and succinct book on this topic that I have read, and I've read quite a few. A primer on race that I wish could be required reading for the entire nation.
  • Erica
    January 1, 1970
    This isn't an easy-breezy book. It's not supposed to be. Some readers will be triggered, some will be defensive, and some will think it's just too heavy, too negative, too un-American because we don't have racism here and stop making everything about race.This book is about race.It's in the title.There is no false advertising here.For me, this is a good bookend to Between the World and Me. I didn't quite get that book, I couldn't figure out what I needed to learn from Coates. It was an introduct This isn't an easy-breezy book. It's not supposed to be. Some readers will be triggered, some will be defensive, and some will think it's just too heavy, too negative, too un-American because we don't have racism here and stop making everything about race.This book is about race.It's in the title.There is no false advertising here.For me, this is a good bookend to Between the World and Me. I didn't quite get that book, I couldn't figure out what I needed to learn from Coates. It was an introduction. This is the rest of the story, this fills in the blanks.This is the big picture.It's also a good companion for I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual and now wish I would have read the two in reverse, that one as a palate cleanser after all the seriousness here. That's not true. I'm glad I read them in the order I did. That one was like hanging out with a friend and having good conversation, some light and fluffy, some heavier and deeper, but, in the end, we all walked away smiling. This was like coming home from hanging with said friend and sitting down with your serious sister who has some serious learning for you, stuff you don't want to hear but you have to. There's love in the message but also a lot of come-to-Jesusing. Without the Jesus part. You don't walk away from this with a smile but maybe you walk away with a little hope, with some resolution, with greater awareness. Maybe this is the start to becoming a slightly better person.I respect the hell out of Oluo. She's taken on the mantle of race educator not because she wants to but because she is beautifully positioned to talk to white people about racism in a way we'll understand if we're just willing to listen. This isn't a fun pasttime for her, dealing with those of us smothered in privilege and all defensive about it, but she's doing it anyway because, as she says, how much worse will things be if she doesn't speak up?This book isn't just for white people, though. It's a call for everyone to stop being bound by white supremacy, by classism, ableism, sexism and all the other divides we cling to in order to feel superior to others, in order to reap the most benefits from society by making sure those benefits don't end up with others.Mostly, though, this is for white people.I hope it gets to the people who need this information because as I finished this up today, the news was rife with stories about Stephon Clark who was shot 20 times by police in his grandparent's backyard and stories about the white terrorist, labeled "quiet" or "normal" by surprised friends and family, who blew himself up after being caught for bombing black people in Austin, TX, for the past few weeks.People.Come on.Read this and, as Oluo says, let's all get a little uncomfortable.Sidenotes: Bahni Turpin narrates the audiobook. She is incredible, per usual. In this case, she reads in a Documentary Narrator voice and then when things get pointed, she adds a little acid to her tongue to make sure you do not miss the implication of the message being delivered. She's just so good.If you fell in love with Oluo's writing, you can find more here. You may recognize some of her Medium articles or her interview with Rachel Dolezal but check out her other stuff, too.Also, I think this is the end of my inadvertent themed reading spree.I suppose Meaty could qualify but...I guess I'll see how I feel about that once it's finished.Edit, June 2018: I just bumped the stars up to the full five because I've recommended and talked up this book so many times in the past three months. If I'm shouting about it like that, it needs all the stars.
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  • Antoinette Scully
    January 1, 1970
    Go. Read. This. Book. Well written, informative, and concerned with the reader learning, not just the author being right. You should read this: • If you want to talk about racial topics better• If you’re great at talking about race• If you never want to talk about raceEveryone should read this book. This should be the very next book you read.
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  • Julie Christine
    January 1, 1970
    An engaging and thoughtful examination of race in these United States. Ijeoma Oluo brings new energy and determination to a discussion that can feel so fraught and loaded and hopeless. The book is presented both as a conversation and as manual, offering tips, guidelines, and discussion points to take the reader from the sidelines to the frontlines. Its readership, as is so often the case with social justice primers, will be obviously self-selecting. The title alone, So You Want to Talk About Rac An engaging and thoughtful examination of race in these United States. Ijeoma Oluo brings new energy and determination to a discussion that can feel so fraught and loaded and hopeless. The book is presented both as a conversation and as manual, offering tips, guidelines, and discussion points to take the reader from the sidelines to the frontlines. Its readership, as is so often the case with social justice primers, will be obviously self-selecting. The title alone, So You Want to Talk About Race will weed out all those who can easily answer, "Yeah, no" for the myriad reasons we continue to struggle to discuss race honestly and effectively (e.g fear, anger, boredom, fatigue, confusion, guilt, disbelief, etc.). But Oluo, if she can get you to pick up the book, will engage from the opening pages with her confidence and competence, humor and honesty. She doesn't lecture, but she doesn't soft-pedal, either. Whether it's microagression or police brutality, she presents the issue, why it matters, and what your responsibility is in responding and how to be a part of the conversation. The "you" here is any reader, but really, white folks, this is for us, because it's on us to be the change.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn't planning on reading this book today, honestly. It wasn't anywhere on my shortlist (that I'm actually trying to adhere to for once), and I'd literally JUST started another book on my kindle (I'm on page 21!)... but my house was a hot mess, so I decided that I should do something about that, like a functional adult would, instead of sitting on my ass and reading all day (like the childless adult that I am can!). But... I feel like chore time is wasted time when I could do BOTH. :DSo, I pr I wasn't planning on reading this book today, honestly. It wasn't anywhere on my shortlist (that I'm actually trying to adhere to for once), and I'd literally JUST started another book on my kindle (I'm on page 21!)... but my house was a hot mess, so I decided that I should do something about that, like a functional adult would, instead of sitting on my ass and reading all day (like the childless adult that I am can!). But... I feel like chore time is wasted time when I could do BOTH. :DSo, I pretty much chose this book at random from the ones I had downloaded on my audible app. Once I started it, I couldn't stop, and listened to it straight through. It was SO good. Really accessible and relatable, and felt like a conversation between friends, albeit one where one friend has to sit the other down for a serious talk at times. I had never read anything of Oluo's at all before. I don't remember how I heard of this book, but I've been reading a lot of political/social justice/race related nonfiction over the past few years, and probably it just crossed my path at some point. Anyway, I say that just to make it clear that I was not at all familiar with Ijeoma Oluo at all before starting this book, and really had no idea what to expect. And, I'll be honest and say that based on the cover, and the spiky sort of speech bubble around "talk about race", I was a little concerned it might be a really aggressive diatribe that can put people on the defensive rather than open eyes and minds and hearts. And yes, I realize the irony of having that kind of stereotypical "angry black woman" thought about a book that I purchased with the intention to learn from another person's experience with something I haven't gone through. And yes, I do also realize that those feelings are totally valid. But that's not at all what this book was... or well, not all of what it was, because there was a definite undertone of anger, and well justified, if you ask me. What this book really was, was a beautifully written call to arms for anyone affected by racial issues in America to stand up against inequality and injustice. So, everyone. I'm a white woman, and though I know it's typical and it's what everyone says, I do not consider myself to be racist. And yet, as I was listening to this book, I recognized a lot of ways that I am. Little microaggression things, like being more aware of my belongings when a strange black man walks by than when a strange white man walks by. Not cool. But I can recognize these biases and be better. Almost immediately, Oluo impressed me with her honesty and forthrightness and willingness to reframe the narrative to show perspectives that might never have been considered before. She seeks to get people to actually think and take action, by analyzing both ourselves and the system we all exist within, to see how we can help make it better for everyone. She offers tips and guidelines for various types of interactions, with the aim of validating oppressed peoples experiences, and learning how to at least try to be better allies. She talks about her own biases and oversights of inclusivity, and how that has taught her to re-examine her own assumptions and mindset. This book is also a little bit memoir, in that Oluo talks about her family, and their various experiences with racism. And man, the stories that she relayed hit me like a gut-punch every time because of the casual cruelty that is engendered by systemic racism. How her brother was treated in class by the teacher and the other students fucking broke my heart and left me in tears. So needlessly hurtful. Her story regarding talking about why her 8 year old son can't play outside with toy guns, and how Oluo was torn between warning him of the risk that his brown skin would bring to that otherwise innocent activity, and why, and wanting to let him just enjoy his childhood and innocence... it killed me. It shouldn't be like this. I so appreciate the perspective that this book offers. I generally consider myself to be empathetic, and generally think that I'm able to see things from other people's point of view, but... that's not really the case. I have never lived as a discriminated-against party in a system stacked against me, and honestly I benefit a LOT from privilege that has made my life much easier than it would have been had I not been born white, to a middle-class family, and so I have no way to really understand that kind of experience, and especially not considering that this is never ending and exhausting. This book, and others like it, are the next best thing. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's amazing and insightful, and should be mandatory reading.
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  • Youp
    January 1, 1970
    Short version:Probably the biggest crap I have ever read.Longer version:So You Want To Talk About Race is a waste of time, money and brain cells for anyone who comes into contact with it. Anyone with the smallest ability for critical thinking will find no need for this garbage, and those infected with the intersectionality virus are the proverbial choir being preached to. Every page is filled with hypocrisy, nonsensical jibberish and logical fallacies. Some of the 'gems': - The 'lived experience Short version:Probably the biggest crap I have ever read.Longer version:So You Want To Talk About Race is a waste of time, money and brain cells for anyone who comes into contact with it. Anyone with the smallest ability for critical thinking will find no need for this garbage, and those infected with the intersectionality virus are the proverbial choir being preached to. Every page is filled with hypocrisy, nonsensical jibberish and logical fallacies. Some of the 'gems': - The 'lived experience' of a person of color (POC) is unimaginable for non-POC's. This makes a POC always right when claiming something is racist, since white people cannot possible fathom what it means to be non-white. Somehow, however, it's perfectly possible for a POC to understand the lived experience of a white person. I'll give you a hint of that experience: it's a non-stop ride on the wave of white privilege from cradle to the grave. - The author, in chapter 2, speaks about discussing an issue with her friend. When that friend doesn't share her viewpoint, the author realizes this is not someone she can talk to, because she cannot truly be herself. That's what true friends are: they share all of your opinions, else why would you want to interact with them?- Racism is defined by a system of power, whatever that means. In practice, it means that only white people can be racist, since they own the power monopoly. POC are just poor, helpless victims. So if you call someone a cracker, it's okay, as opposed to calling someone the N-word. Calling someone the N-word could literally get them killed. If someone accuses you of being racist against white people, they are simply feeling guilty or confused. They are trying to shut you down. Just walk away, because these people don't want to have a productive conversation in which you can educate them. - It's super important to make more friends of different races. Because that's how you make friends: look for them based on racial quota. It's unclear to me if the author wants POC to find more white friends. - The author's mother, God bless her heart, is a white person. She is very kind and nice (according to the author). BUT, she is also white. To quote the author: "She is exhausting. My mother does not think before she speaks". Here's another quote about her mom: "I love my mom dearly, but I've been rolling my eyes at her for 36 years". It speaks volumes of someone's character when they're willing to talk about their mother like this. It hilariously hypocritical when the author is annoyed at her mother for wanting to talk about race with her daughter ("Why does my mom want to keep talking about race with me?"), only to state several paragraphs later that she cannot stop herself from talking about race ("I HAVE TO TALK ABOUT RACE"). - Racism is also, apparently, when something bad disproportionally affects a certain group. For example: racism is when teachers only want to have meetings during school hours. Don't they know that POC are so busy working that they can only meet after school hours? It's also racist when your employer doesn't allow ethnic hairstyles, like for example the military. I'm not making this up. These are actual examples from the book. There are plenty more examples of idiocy to be found spread throughout SYWTTAR, mixed in with recycled Marxistic claims of power and oppression. It's tiresome, and could easily pass for satire to those unfamiliar with the intersectionalist mindset. There is not a single original thought in this book, just the same tedious repetition of ill-defined phrases such as 'white privilege', 'micro-aggressions' and 'lived experience'. The author is simply a spokesperson for her radical hivemind, instead of an individual with ideas and concepts of her own.Perhaps the worst thing about this work is the 'solutions' it offers. It comes down to 'educate people about this. If they have a different opinion they are part of the problem'. It's exactly this behavior that makes it harder and harder to distinguish between actual problems in society and the claims of ideologues. Because when borderline everything is racist, actually nothing is. Don't buy into the nonsense of SYWTTAR or similar books. Arguments should be valued by their logic, not by the arbitrary characteristics of the person making the argument. If we judge So You Want To Talk About Race by that standard, it's a worthless waste of words.
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  • CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
    January 1, 1970
    A must-read for all white people, this book is very smart but very accessible. Oluo breaks down complicated issues like police brutality, the model minority myth, and tone policing (among others) masterfully, weaving together personal stories, detailed examples, and stats. This is definitely an entry-level book that feels aimed at white people and people of colour at the beginning of politicized learning. Excellent narration by Bahni Turpin like usual!
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsWithholding review until after seeing Oluo talk tomorrow... Ok, after listening to Oluo’s talk, my concerns weren’t allayed.So the book is good, & worth reading. It is repetitive at times & so it drags at points. But overall, I recommend it.My concern is the takeaway. Oluo seems to be saying we shouldn’t be talking to each other quite so much. That is, white people shouldn’t bother people of color as much as they do. Don’t ask her for what she thinks we should be doing - white p 3.5 starsWithholding review until after seeing Oluo talk tomorrow... Ok, after listening to Oluo’s talk, my concerns weren’t allayed.So the book is good, & worth reading. It is repetitive at times & so it drags at points. But overall, I recommend it.My concern is the takeaway. Oluo seems to be saying we shouldn’t be talking to each other quite so much. That is, white people shouldn’t bother people of color as much as they do. Don’t ask her for what she thinks we should be doing - white people need to figure it out themselves; don’t ask her to explain something because she might have had to explain it fifty times already & it’s not her job to educate every white person; and don’t speak up for her in public situations because she might not want to fight that battle that day.Ok.But then what? When do we talk about race TOGETHER? I completely accept that I need to do a lot of listening in any such conversation. I accept that there are tons of things I don’t know, am not aware of, or fail to take into account because they’re just not my experiences. Which is exactly why I can’t do all the talking to white people about people of color - I WILL get it wrong.I was hoping I was misinterpreting her book, and was eager to hear her speak today. But I just heard more of the same. It didn’t leave me feeling very hopeful about the immediate future of things.
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    This book felt like an Introduction to Race 101 class and I don't mean that in a bad way. I think the book was simple and straight to the point in its approach and easily understandable. Ijeoma gave some helpful guidance on how to broach conversations on race in a more healthy and productive way. She literally put bullet points on how to address certain situations. In my opinion, more non-black/non-POC need to read this book. The main topic I was drawn to was "What are microaggressions?". As I'v This book felt like an Introduction to Race 101 class and I don't mean that in a bad way. I think the book was simple and straight to the point in its approach and easily understandable. Ijeoma gave some helpful guidance on how to broach conversations on race in a more healthy and productive way. She literally put bullet points on how to address certain situations. In my opinion, more non-black/non-POC need to read this book. The main topic I was drawn to was "What are microaggressions?". As I've stated in another review, I've encountered many situations in which comments/remarks were made in jest and the person didn't even realize what they said was racist. I am usually left stunned to the point of speechlessness in those situations. So the bullet points that Ijeoma outlines on how to address that were helpful and I'll definitely implement those tips next time it happens (because I assure you it will).
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    It’s hard to capture the magnitude of what Ijeoma Oluo has accomplished in So You Want To Talk About Race. She has managed to write a clear and concise instruction manual on how to talk about one of our country’s most difficult subjects, while neither alienating nor infantilizing the reader. This is an especially important book for the newly “woke” white person who recognizes our structural and systematic racism in the US, but is unsure (or even terrified) of how to act on this new knowledge. Pi It’s hard to capture the magnitude of what Ijeoma Oluo has accomplished in So You Want To Talk About Race. She has managed to write a clear and concise instruction manual on how to talk about one of our country’s most difficult subjects, while neither alienating nor infantilizing the reader. This is an especially important book for the newly “woke” white person who recognizes our structural and systematic racism in the US, but is unsure (or even terrified) of how to act on this new knowledge. Pick this one up post haste.
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  • Britta
    January 1, 1970
    Oh dear.I bought this book out of a hope to be enlightened, perhaps. Or maybe it was to have a stage set to lubricate productive conversations when race inevitably comes up. I bought it because I am really lucky to have a rainbow of friends...friends who sadly experience racial microaggressions on a near daily basis... and I want to be a better advocate for them. But at the risk of being deemed an offensive, racist B word, I can't give this book a glowing review.I expected the book to be tricky, Oh dear.I bought this book out of a hope to be enlightened, perhaps. Or maybe it was to have a stage set to lubricate productive conversations when race inevitably comes up. I bought it because I am really lucky to have a rainbow of friends...friends who sadly experience racial microaggressions on a near daily basis... and I want to be a better advocate for them. But at the risk of being deemed an offensive, racist B word, I can't give this book a glowing review.I expected the book to be tricky, but it was downright hostile. I expected to be forced to check my privilege, but not to read an entire book written by someone who really kindof hates me. Not me specifically, but everything I was born as. In that way it didn't feel productive.Her writing, while thought provoking I'm sure, is often times too snarky for me to take seriously, for example:"Rap has long been vilified by many in 'respectable' white America. It is the language of 'thugs' and is responsible for numerous societal ills from 'black-on-black' crime to single parenthood. Rap music is the reason why your teenager is suddenly disrespectful. Rap music is the reason kids don't go to church anymore. Wife leave you? Pretty sure rap music told her to". -pg 148I'm sorry. I just can't. I literally rolled my eyes at the last sentence.And then there's her section about hair. I get it. I'm sure she's had her hair touched BECAUSE of her race and her beautiful hair. But as someone who has had her hair touched without her permission her ENTIRE life, I can't help but feel like it's less of a racial thing and more an issue of people not being able to keep their damn hands to themselves.I also could not disagree with her more strongly in her assessment and comparison of the virtues of Martin Luther King Jr. vs Malcolm X. Hate and violence will ALWAYS beget hate and violence and minimizing MLKjr's impact and vision of equality because he also stood for peace appalls and repulses me. Alas, the book isn't rotten. I did get a lot from it. Her point at the very beginning about something being about race being it was experienced THROUGH a racial perspective is eloquent (and makes me feel evil for my feelings about her hair chapter since she experienced it racially and therefore it's racial for her...). But I digress...I'm not trying to minimize anything the author says whatsoever and I think it truly is important for those of us white Americans to get a clue and make a point to advocate for EVERYBODY, no matter their race, ability, age, sex, orientation, what have you. Despite her unendingly negative tone, I think the real message one can take away from this book is how important it is to be kind to others. At least that's what I hope. (Added a star out of guilt.)::winces as she hits publish::
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  • Nadine Jones
    January 1, 1970
    Yes, racism and racial oppression in America is horrible and terrifying. The feelings it brings up in us are justified. But it is also everywhere, in every corner of our lives. We have to let go of some of that fear. We have to be able to look racism in the eye wherever we encounter it. If we continue to treat racism like it is a giant monster that is chasing us, we will be forever running. But running won’t help when it’s in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves. I am so glad Yes, racism and racial oppression in America is horrible and terrifying. The feelings it brings up in us are justified. But it is also everywhere, in every corner of our lives. We have to let go of some of that fear. We have to be able to look racism in the eye wherever we encounter it. If we continue to treat racism like it is a giant monster that is chasing us, we will be forever running. But running won’t help when it’s in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves. I am so glad you are here. I am so glad that you are willing to talk about race. I’m honored to be a part of this conversation with you. This just wasn't the book I wanted it to be. It was good, but I expected more. There is a lot of good stuff in this book, there really is. But I wish more of the conclusions were based on statistics rather than personal anecdotes. I didn't realize that this was effectively a series of op-eds. I might have liked it better if I'd known that before I started. I didn't think this was a well-written book. This is an argument that needs to be won, and I wish she had structured it better.
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  • Jess | thegreeneyedreader
    January 1, 1970
    5/5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I posted a lot about this author and this book recently, and after finishing this book, I can confidently say the praise I previously expressed is well deserved. This is absolutely a #mustread. The real world examples and suggestions make this book a real standout from others addressing the topic of race in America. I will be referencing this book for years to come. 5/5 STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I posted a lot about this author and this book recently, and after finishing this book, I can confidently say the praise I previously expressed is well deserved. This is absolutely a #mustread. The real world examples and suggestions make this book a real standout from others addressing the topic of race in America. I will be referencing this book for years to come.
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  • Amal Bedhyefi
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely loved everything about this book!It opened my eyes on so many matters and made me strengthen my ideas and opinions on race related issues.I finished it with so MUCH thoughts in mind , and I feel like i can talk about it forever now ! Such an engaging and active reading indeed.HIGHLY recommend it!
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    This is so smart and honest and powerful and I want to get copies for everyone I know
  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    Ijeoma Oluo's book is an instruction manual, an autobiography, and a collection of incredible essays all rolled into one. She gives anyone interested in talking about race a manual. It encourages white people to work through racist tropes and mistakes and gives POCs information on how to counter well-meaning but definitely racist arguments. I found it to be a great mix of Oluo's on experiences alongside her analysis of cultural moments and explanations of common terms in digestible bites. I enjo Ijeoma Oluo's book is an instruction manual, an autobiography, and a collection of incredible essays all rolled into one. She gives anyone interested in talking about race a manual. It encourages white people to work through racist tropes and mistakes and gives POCs information on how to counter well-meaning but definitely racist arguments. I found it to be a great mix of Oluo's on experiences alongside her analysis of cultural moments and explanations of common terms in digestible bites. I enjoyed that she ended most chapters in listed recommendations. It is definitely a book I imagine I will look back to often!
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  • Krystal
    January 1, 1970
    Ijeoma Oluo has surpassed expectations with this monumental masterpiece which deconstructs race with insight and clarity for all to better understand and address these issues!
  • Carmel Hanes
    January 1, 1970
    Updated and amended 3-22-19This novel is thought-provoking and takes on a topic so emotionally charged it is difficult to read without raising hackles. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Raised hackles are often necessary to shake through assumptions and complacency.The book describes the experience of living as a person of color within the culture of "white privilege". It tackles how skin color continues to affect the assumptions, expectations, and opportunities within our country, as well as Updated and amended 3-22-19This novel is thought-provoking and takes on a topic so emotionally charged it is difficult to read without raising hackles. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Raised hackles are often necessary to shake through assumptions and complacency.The book describes the experience of living as a person of color within the culture of "white privilege". It tackles how skin color continues to affect the assumptions, expectations, and opportunities within our country, as well as how one is spoken to and treated on a frequent basis. Living on the same street, eating at the same restaurants, attending the same schools does not equal living the same experiences. The words written increased my understanding of concepts such as white privilege, cultural appropriation, microaggressions, and tone policing. I was forced to wrestle with how my good intentions may still hit a person of color as gaslighting their experiences and feelings. And I was again saddened to realize that, while outward displays of racism, such as "whites only", have disappeared from the social landscape, there still exists a thousand and one ways to whittle away at the safety and self-esteem of people.I appreciated much of what the book had to offer. I did find myself struggling with certain definitions and points of view. Perhaps because of my own experiences growing up poor, working with struggling children, and my own life events, which made me draw parallels in what was being talked about--leading to those lines becoming less clear between groups of people. However, the author makes a valid point about comparing experiences. While I may have had an occasional unkind and dismissive snowball thrown my way, I have not had to endure an avalanche of them hitting me yearly, monthly, daily, or hourly. When I compare experiences, I am trying to establish a precarious rope bridge in an effort to cross a divide larger than even imagined, in order to see (and feel) her perspective.My background in psychology and effective communication strategies for conflict resolution caused me to have a different take on how to participate in a conversation about life experiences. But I still hope I will do so more carefully, and with more wisdom and understanding than I might have before reading this book. Because Oluo has a right to see and feel as she does.
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