I'm Still Here
From a powerful new voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America. Austin Channing Brown's first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, Austin writes, "I had to learn what it means to love blackness," a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America's racial divide as a writer, speaker and expert who helps organizations practice genuine inclusion.In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value "diversity" in their mission statements, I'm Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric--from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.For readers who have engaged with America's legacy on race through the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Eric Dyson, I'm Still Here is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class, Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the reader to confront apathy, recognize God's ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness--if we let it--can save us all.

I'm Still Here Details

TitleI'm Still Here
Author
ReleaseMay 15th, 2018
PublisherConvergent Books
ISBN-139781524760854
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Race, Social Movements, Social Justice, Religion

I'm Still Here Review

  • Shayla Mays
    January 1, 1970
    In the same way that not everyone was ready and could handle, Between the World and Me, this is another that some will have a hard time with. It was not meant to comfort white people. It's written to share a black experience. With that being said, if there is one book that could most accurately define my Christian black womanhood... my thoughts, my pain, my fear, my concerns, my frustrations, my awareness that I MUST press on despite not having much to cling to for hope... it's this book. I read In the same way that not everyone was ready and could handle, Between the World and Me, this is another that some will have a hard time with. It was not meant to comfort white people. It's written to share a black experience. With that being said, if there is one book that could most accurately define my Christian black womanhood... my thoughts, my pain, my fear, my concerns, my frustrations, my awareness that I MUST press on despite not having much to cling to for hope... it's this book. I read it in one sitting. It was that relatable. So grateful for Austin's willingness to share her perspective and a part of her story which so many of us black women can Amen to.
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  • Rincey
    January 1, 1970
    Yeah, I'm going to need my own copy of this book so I can re-read it and mark it up. So many good truths in here.
  • Tiffany
    January 1, 1970
    Finished this book today. Handed it to my white kids as soon as I closed the cover. Listen, I said.
  • Leigh Kramer
    January 1, 1970
    If you're at all familiar with Austin Channing Brown, you know she is a gifted communicator as both a writer and speaker. I had high hopes for her first book and I was hooked from the first page. I had intended to only read the first few chapters and before I knew it, I chucked my plans for the day and wrapped myself up in the pages of Austin's story.By the time I finished reading, I was even more in awe of Austin. I'm Still Here is truly phenomenal.Austin shares how even her very name challenge If you're at all familiar with Austin Channing Brown, you know she is a gifted communicator as both a writer and speaker. I had high hopes for her first book and I was hooked from the first page. I had intended to only read the first few chapters and before I knew it, I chucked my plans for the day and wrapped myself up in the pages of Austin's story.By the time I finished reading, I was even more in awe of Austin. I'm Still Here is truly phenomenal.Austin shares how even her very name challenges people's assumptions. People expect to a white man when they see the name Austin; they don't always know what to do with the Black woman before them. She grew up and has worked in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches. And with those majority-white spaces come stereotypes, biases, and prejudices.Austin shares her trajectory from believing she was the white culture whisperer after college to seeing how white supremacy infected programs supposedly dedicated to racial reconciliation. "The role of the bridge builder sounds appealing until it becomes clear how often the bridge is your broken back." p. 42In chapter 5, titled Whiteness At Work, Austin details the microaggressions she experienced in her average workday at a Christian organization. It was staggering to see them listed out and know this was just an average day. One of many. And then to see how the organization had no interest in changing when Austin pointed out the biases present, despite its supposed commitment to diversity in the workplace. It is little wonder why Austin finds white people so exhausting. I can only imagine the bone-deep tiredness that comes after a lifetime of existing as a Black woman in primarily white spaces. White readers will need to pay special attention to the sections exploring the difference between white fragility and taking full ownership of facing your own racism. If you are white, you have internalized racism, even if you don't see it. This is what it is to live in a society stacked in your favor from the moment you are born and this is why it's important for us to confront our privilege and interrogate our biases.More importantly, we cannot—we must not—rely on People Of Color to help us do that. As Austin notes, she is "not the priest for the white soul" (p. 65.) I was very moved by Interlude: Letter To My Son. I was also moved when Austin shared about her fears that crop up whenever her husband or dad travels. She worries they'll be pulled over and won't make it home. It's horrifying that this is not an unrealistic fear, that there's nothing we can say in reassurance. It's a profound reminder of why we need to keep fighting for justice and the eradication of white supremacy at every level. There are tough truths here but there is also joy as Austin reflects on the gifts the Black church has given her and what she loves about being a Black woman. I loved reading about her memories of her childhood and time with her family, as well as her love for books and the library.Each chapter builds upon the one before it in a way that is masterful. This mastery becomes especially clear in the final two chapters. The last chapter is a reflection on hope and hopelessness and it is precisely what I needed to read for so many reasons. "This is the shadow of hope. Knowing that we may never see the realization of our dreams, and yet still showing up." p. 105Then I read the final paragraph and Austin brought it all home and my only thought was, "holy shit." It was that powerful. I read it again and then again and let her words sink in. The whole book builds toward that moment and it is absolutely incredible getting there. Highly recommended.Disclosure: I was provided a review copy from Convergent in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Mehrsa
    January 1, 1970
    Everything Brown says is right and true. She writes it clearly and well. And everyone who has not already internalized the message of white privilege needs to keep reading these books until they can understand what it is like to not have white privilege. However, there is so little in this book and in others that might push us forward. And don't get me wrong, I don't mean optimism and hope, but change. I get the feeling in all these books that white supremacy is so ingrained that whatever is don Everything Brown says is right and true. She writes it clearly and well. And everyone who has not already internalized the message of white privilege needs to keep reading these books until they can understand what it is like to not have white privilege. However, there is so little in this book and in others that might push us forward. And don't get me wrong, I don't mean optimism and hope, but change. I get the feeling in all these books that white supremacy is so ingrained that whatever is done is an indication of white supremacy. and sometimes, I think that's right. But I also feel ready for some books about going forward. A branch of help for those who might want to help. Maybe more akin to Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy that gives that mercy to those who want to change and understand.
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  • Chanequa Walker-Barnes
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely breathtaking! Just a few pages into this book, I knew that I had to finish it in one day. Austin Channing Brown does what many of us have been needing for so long: she centers her Black womanhood in her memoir of racial justice, reconciliation, and Christianity. By doing so, she demonstrates what womanist theologians have consistently claimed: when you begin with the experiences and needs of Black women, you articulate a theology that encompasses all. This is a memoir, to be sure, but Absolutely breathtaking! Just a few pages into this book, I knew that I had to finish it in one day. Austin Channing Brown does what many of us have been needing for so long: she centers her Black womanhood in her memoir of racial justice, reconciliation, and Christianity. By doing so, she demonstrates what womanist theologians have consistently claimed: when you begin with the experiences and needs of Black women, you articulate a theology that encompasses all. This is a memoir, to be sure, but it is every bit a work of theology, in which Brown makes bold claims about who God is and who God intends for us to be to one another.
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  • Erin *Help I’m Reading and I Can’t Get Up*
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely magnificent. The female, Christian answer (not critique, not correction, but response— as in, call and response) to Coates’s Between the World and Me. A must read for Christians of conscience. 5 stars.
  • Dale
    January 1, 1970
    At its core this is a hard book full of hard teachings. This I know - she has many more valid points than I would like to admit.To be published in May of 2018 by Convergent Books.Let me address the title of the book for all of you that will get hung up on the word "whiteness."Let me use a rough analogy to explain it.I am an overweight person. I used to be even more overweight (I have lost 85 pounds). I weighed enough that I had to buy almost all of my clothes online or in special stores. Most ma At its core this is a hard book full of hard teachings. This I know - she has many more valid points than I would like to admit.To be published in May of 2018 by Convergent Books.Let me address the title of the book for all of you that will get hung up on the word "whiteness."Let me use a rough analogy to explain it.I am an overweight person. I used to be even more overweight (I have lost 85 pounds). I weighed enough that I had to buy almost all of my clothes online or in special stores. Most major chains literally sold nothing that would fit me. Certain brands make it very clear that they refuse to make clothes for heavy people because they don't want them wearing their brand. Once, I had a salesperson yell at me from across her empty mall store when she saw me walk in that they didn't carry my size (I was looking for something for my daughter).The normal (easy to find, available everywhere) clothing world was not made for me. I was living in a world designed for thinner people.This is how the author, Austin Channing Brown, feels about modern America. It is designed for white people. Period. Everyone else makes large accommodations to the majority while white America makes small ones. For example, in media most television shows feature white characters with maybe a token non-white character. For example, just this month the Marvel movie Black Panther came out. It is the eighteenth Marvel movie. It is also the first one with a main character who is not a white man. 1 of 18 is not a very good ratio.Brown grew up in White America in suburban parochial schools. She is not a stranger to the mostly white religious organizations that she has been hired to help with their diversity issues. But, too often, she has been hired as a token hire rather than a guide to how to truly embrace a different part of the body of Christ. It is not enough to get the numbers right.I understand her first sentence of the book: "White people are exhausting." I am a white man who teaches at a majority minority school. The culture of the school is simply not mine (separated by race and at least one generation) and there are times when I leave school exhausted by the constant mental translating I have to do just to keep up. I understood her comment immediately.There are weird things that Brown experiences that I also have experienced. For example, she has white people at work that want to ...Read more at: http://dwdsreviews.blogspot.com/2018/...
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  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    Some honest, poignant, and approachable conversation on race. I've read a lot of books on race, and sometimes they can be intimidating. The topic is heavy enough, but sometimes the books are academic in nature or are such a high level that you really have to wade through them. Brown's feels much more approachable. That's not to say she doesn't tackle heavy stuff (she does) or have hard things to say (she does) or is intellectually light (it's not), but it just feels very conversational. It's als Some honest, poignant, and approachable conversation on race. I've read a lot of books on race, and sometimes they can be intimidating. The topic is heavy enough, but sometimes the books are academic in nature or are such a high level that you really have to wade through them. Brown's feels much more approachable. That's not to say she doesn't tackle heavy stuff (she does) or have hard things to say (she does) or is intellectually light (it's not), but it just feels very conversational. It's also a book I felt like I needed to read again as soon as I finished it.
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  • Meaghan Lee
    January 1, 1970
    I wish I could give this ten stars.
  • April
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fantastic book and a must read for anyone who identifies with any of the following:-is white-is a person of color -is Christian-does anti racist work -wants to do anti racist work -anyone and everyoneI identified with so many of her experiences. It was just empowering to read stories that spoke directly to my own experiences and to have this book to point to as a reference point for white friends/allies/acquaintances looking to me to explain things to them.
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  • Raven
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book with the hope that Ms Brown would illuminate what actual justice or equality would look like. It was largely a memoir and a good one. I went school in the 70s and 80s so my experience was different but I was surprised to hear about hers as I had assumed things had changed somewhat since I had been in school. She seemed put off by the fact that the predominantly white school she attended taught and treated her through the lens of 'whiteness', but I am not sure how they could have I read this book with the hope that Ms Brown would illuminate what actual justice or equality would look like. It was largely a memoir and a good one. I went school in the 70s and 80s so my experience was different but I was surprised to hear about hers as I had assumed things had changed somewhat since I had been in school. She seemed put off by the fact that the predominantly white school she attended taught and treated her through the lens of 'whiteness', but I am not sure how they could have done any different seeing as how her classmates and teachers were white. I see that as a frame of reference problem (if I am not black or French or Chinese how can I treat you culturally the way your people would?) not so much as a discrimination issue. I would not expect a predominantly black congregation to start conforming to my cultural 'white' requirements or needs so I am not sure why the expectation is there in the reverse setting. Again, how would we know what is the right thing to do?I was steadfastly behind her with regards to her outrage at being touched without permission, called names, assumed to be a welfare recipient instead of an employee, and being yelled at by anyone for having different views. Everyone's personal experience is valid -- afterall it is theirs. However, I don't think the answer is to be racist against whites. Many 'whites' would like to know what it is that is wanted from us in this racial justice regard and this book did not have any real answers. I have the impression that nothing I did or said as a white woman were I to meet Ms Brown would be the correct response. She herself indicated in several places in the book that she knew what white people were thinking when they met her or talked with her. This is extremely judgmental and if it were to be said about black people would be considered racist without question. If we are hurt by this prejudgement we are considered 'fragile'. So, basically, it is not okay for white people to express their feelings with regards to this topic, but it is fine for black people to do so. The bottom line is people are ALL different. We were all raised in different home situations, cultures, neighborhoods, etc. I don' t believe it is really possible to reconcile an entire people group to another one. Even Jesus worked on an individual basis and sent his disciples out to also work on an individual basis.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    For such a heavy topic as race equality, it’s a quick read and Austin explains what it means to be a black woman in today’s society with such ease and grace. It’s an eye opening account of how far we still have to go for race equality in this country. In my opinion, this should be mandatory reading for everyone. It would be a great start for tackling this issue.
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  • Christy Childers
    January 1, 1970
    Austin Channing Brown is straightforward & honest about her experiences as a black woman in America, making this a great addition to the ongoing racial justice conversation.
  • Katharine
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advanced copy of this at a conference. It tore me up. Brown doesn't pull any punches about the difficulty of being black in America. She doesn't put a happy ending on it all. She also doesn't paint the black experience as negative. Brown brings out the strength, beauty and dignity of being black.I'm grateful for authors like Brown who are willing to help educate the world about harsh realities....to educate well-intentioned yet still so ignorant white people like me about racism. T I received an advanced copy of this at a conference. It tore me up. Brown doesn't pull any punches about the difficulty of being black in America. She doesn't put a happy ending on it all. She also doesn't paint the black experience as negative. Brown brings out the strength, beauty and dignity of being black.I'm grateful for authors like Brown who are willing to help educate the world about harsh realities....to educate well-intentioned yet still so ignorant white people like me about racism. There is a lot of power in this book.
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  • Ericka Clouther
    January 1, 1970
    I was a little dubious when I was reading the first two chapters, but then she gets to the meat of the book, and I thought the rest of it was really great. Very rarely do I think a book could be longer, but this was one I thought could have been expanded with relevant history and policy. Of course, that an unreasonable desire on my part, because this is a memoir, but I just think she'd cover the relevant details really well. It is a great book.Lately, I read a lot about both racism and feminism I was a little dubious when I was reading the first two chapters, but then she gets to the meat of the book, and I thought the rest of it was really great. Very rarely do I think a book could be longer, but this was one I thought could have been expanded with relevant history and policy. Of course, that an unreasonable desire on my part, because this is a memoir, but I just think she'd cover the relevant details really well. It is a great book.Lately, I read a lot about both racism and feminism (the latter is not really mentioned in this book but it's relevant) and I think that's why a lot of what she said made a lot of sense to me and Brown was really great at tying together a lot of issues. I'm not certain if it would be as clear if you don't already have a lot of background in the history of race relations in the country and the institutionalization of racist laws and policies. Definitely one worth reading, regardless.
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  • Violinknitter
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely excellent. This is definitely going on my “recommend to all friends” list.
  • Shannon Whitehead
    January 1, 1970
    There’s much for everyone to learn from this book—the black community, the Church, and the majority culture. It’s eye-opening for those who choose to see, educational for those willing to learn, and inspiring for those ready to act.My full review: https://thewitnessbcc.com/review-im-s...*An advance copy of this book was provided to me for free by the publisher for the purpose of writing this honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.
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  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    4.45 stars. This is a powerful book! Review to follow
  • Adam Shields
    January 1, 1970
    Short Review: Read it!Slightly longer review: I'm Still Here is a memoir about the experience of a Black Woman within predominately White cultural spaces. She grew up in mostly White neighborhoods, going to mostly White schools. She didn't have her first Black teacher until college. She has mostly worked for Christian non-profits that were also mostly white. But being saturated in White culture does not change her appearance or make those that are inclined to judge her based on her gender and sk Short Review: Read it!Slightly longer review: I'm Still Here is a memoir about the experience of a Black Woman within predominately White cultural spaces. She grew up in mostly White neighborhoods, going to mostly White schools. She didn't have her first Black teacher until college. She has mostly worked for Christian non-profits that were also mostly white. But being saturated in White culture does not change her appearance or make those that are inclined to judge her based on her gender and skin color any less likely to judge her. Part of what has been assumed by many is that if we just get kids a good education and help them 'speak white' or even give them White sounding names as Austin's parents intentionally did, that integration will be made easier. But Austin is here to say, racism is still real. This is a book that needs to be read. Not just by Black Women, although I think that is the primary audience, but by everyone else that is not a Black Woman because those of us that are not Black Women need to hear what a Black woman is saying about the work it takes to be a Black woman in the world.This is not a 'everything is going to be all right because of Jesus' book. This is a 'Jesus may be in charge, but sin is real' book. My full review is on my blog at http://bookwi.se/im-still-here/
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  • Krystal
    January 1, 1970
    Austin Channing Brown has delivered a powerful statement on the harm that Christian white supremacy does to black bodies and everyone would benefit from reading her brilliance!
  • Shannon
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone should read this book. It is well-written in an easy to read style, yet Brown manages to bear her heart and anger in a way that leaves me pondering how to best live my life as a white woman. Brown isn’t prescriptive. She’s not telling her readers how to fix our broken culture. What she is doing is showing what doesn’t work and telling true stories of the hurt caused by the privileged - both intentionally and unintentionally. I liked Brown’s writing: the content was challenging enough th Everyone should read this book. It is well-written in an easy to read style, yet Brown manages to bear her heart and anger in a way that leaves me pondering how to best live my life as a white woman. Brown isn’t prescriptive. She’s not telling her readers how to fix our broken culture. What she is doing is showing what doesn’t work and telling true stories of the hurt caused by the privileged - both intentionally and unintentionally. I liked Brown’s writing: the content was challenging enough that I didn’t need the writing to challenge me as well. I liked her authentic voice and her willingness to tell stories from her own life to help readers understand a viewpoint that isn’t their own. I liked that this book challenged me to rethink even the “fixes” our country has used for racism - things like desegregation - and wonder how we can approach things in a more healing and balanced way. This book is not a hard read but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I read it slowly for a book club, which was helpful because I could have easily read it in a day or two had I not had reason to pause at each interlude. It’s not a book that I finished and felt newly educated and hopeful. I do feel my eyes have been opened some but I’m more filled with sadness and anger and anxiety about how to best move forward and how to dismantle a power structure that is so unbalanced and unjust. Hopefully this book is one step towards a clearer way of seeing and a better way of living for me.
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  • Marcia
    January 1, 1970
    Is this a memoir or a polemic? I think an in-depth treatment as one or the other would have been more effective. I found it difficult to rate because much of the book was powerful and convincing and other areas were weak and sloppy. Particularly moving and illuminating are the segments in which Brown recounts her childhood experiences and dawning realization of our racist world and her place in it. The concept of living in the shadow of hope is particularly well done. However, she attributes som Is this a memoir or a polemic? I think an in-depth treatment as one or the other would have been more effective. I found it difficult to rate because much of the book was powerful and convincing and other areas were weak and sloppy. Particularly moving and illuminating are the segments in which Brown recounts her childhood experiences and dawning realization of our racist world and her place in it. The concept of living in the shadow of hope is particularly well done. However, she attributes some of the oppression she experiences to racism when it is simply misogyny (not saying that doesn’t lessen the impact for her). Other factual errors appear (Columbus never set foot in America). I thinks the segments devoted to her faith were excessive and did not advance her argument. I find it ironic that she spends so much time praising the (Christian) church, which teaches one to turn the other cheek and expect a reward for your suffering when you’re dead - completely contradictory to what she advocates.
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  • Gloria
    January 1, 1970
    While news stories abound with instances of institutional racism and acts of violence, have always felt that many white people are not at all intentionally racist, but it still comes through in often subtle ways.This African American author has boldly stated what she runs into in the workplace, schools, and churches. In essence, she is teaching white people how to be more inclusive and how not to offend. Have been waiting for a book like this. She candidly offers examples of the good white peopl While news stories abound with instances of institutional racism and acts of violence, have always felt that many white people are not at all intentionally racist, but it still comes through in often subtle ways.This African American author has boldly stated what she runs into in the workplace, schools, and churches. In essence, she is teaching white people how to be more inclusive and how not to offend. Have been waiting for a book like this. She candidly offers examples of the good white people who nevertheless model and perpetuate white superiority.The many examples illustrate that our society has a long way to go before we can state that racism is a thing of the past. Concluding with a love letter to her unborn child, this is both mildly abrasive and a call-to-arms for aligning our values with our actions.
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  • Elizabeth Davis
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone, especially those who are both white & Christian Americans, should read this. But there are a few things that should be noted first:1. Brown wrote this for POC first & white people last.2. If you’re white, this will make you mad at some point. That’s okay. That’s the purpose. Growth comes through painful experience, & if painful things can’t be spoken, nothing will ever change.3. There are a few curse words in this book. It’s fine.4. If you come across a term or an event tha Everyone, especially those who are both white & Christian Americans, should read this. But there are a few things that should be noted first:1. Brown wrote this for POC first & white people last.2. If you’re white, this will make you mad at some point. That’s okay. That’s the purpose. Growth comes through painful experience, & if painful things can’t be spoken, nothing will ever change.3. There are a few curse words in this book. It’s fine.4. If you come across a term or an event that you’re not familiar with while reading, look it up. This is true for all books, but in this instance, it will help you take that step to further your own education about racism.5. Please don’t respond to this with “Well, that’s not me.” Read this with an open heart & mind.
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  • Bethany Winn
    January 1, 1970
    A must-read, particularly for white people in Christian spaces. I'm having my 10 & 12 year old read it this summer.Austin currently works for Calvin College, where I received my undergraduate degree. She's a prophetic speaker and writer who deeply loves God's people and expects better of us. Her book is accessible and honest, difficult and lovely.
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  • Justin Lonas
    January 1, 1970
    Very much a needed rebuke, especially to evangelical churches and institutions that are unwilling to understand that "white" is not a synonym for "normal", let alone "good". I can see myself recommending this quick, honest read for a long time. Sometimes a book can go places in the heart that a conversation is not allowed to at first.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    This was a tough read for a do-gooder white lady to read. Very convicting about the ways that my needs trump those of people of color and how much I want them to adapt to me and my group. I want diversity without having to change. Very personal and explicit. Not for the faint of heart—but more of us white people should be brave.
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  • Christina
    January 1, 1970
    This book is beautifully written and full of insight and wisdom. I listened to the audio version, and I'm planning to buy the hard copy as well. I can't wait to dive into it again with other people so that I can process the information and find ways to move forward with action.
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  • Shelli
    January 1, 1970
    Austin, I hear you..
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