For the past 4-5 years I have been on my own journey– re-thinking the selective history I was taught, exploring the nature of what is called white supremacist culture, and examining my own attitudes toward racism. I have read many excellent books by both white and black authors. But SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE is the first time where I feel I have had a frank and open one-on-one talk with a black person about how SHE experiences racism and how HER life is impacted. She’s puts it all right in your face and it’s intense. And I so admire her bravery in writing this book. Awarded five stars on Goodreads.
As a white person it was not always easy to read what Ijeoma Oluo writes, though I did NOT find myself disagreeing with her keen observations. In fact, I appreciated her directness and honesty. I felt I was getting a chance (for once) to be on the inside. Here is a black woman trying to explain the pain, hurt, rage, and all-consuming impact of being on the receiving end of racist America. And, once again, I realize that the country I live in is not the same country she lives in.
The book is as practical as it is instructional. Oluo offers clear and helpful explanations on some basic concepts we hear about everyday — like micro aggressions, affirmative action, school-to-prison pipeline, cultural appropriation, and privilege. She shares specific and extremely vulnerable anecdotes from her own life. And she offers a list of suggested actions anti-racists can take to help change the racist culture of the United States.
Oluo is an exceptional writer and because she made the book story-based, it is very readable non-fiction. And quite an accomplishment! In a little over two hundred pages, she provides us with such a personal, practical, and powerful overview that, for me, it is impossible to finish the book without feeling changed. Maybe that’s one reason this is a bestseller.
I wish I could make this book required reading for every American.
More about the author, Ijeoma Oluo.
If you, like me, want to understand more about racism and its pervasive influence in the United States, here are some other non-fiction books that I have found eye-opening:
THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS by Isabel Wilkerson
WHITE FRAGILITY by Robin DiAngelo
JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson
CASTE by Isabel Wilkerson.
DEEP DENIAL: THE PERSISTENCE OF WHITE SUPREMACY IN UNITED STATES HISTORY AND LIFE by Rev. David Billings
WAKING UP WHITE by Debby Irving
NICE RACISM: HOW PROGRESSIVE WHITE PEOPLE PERPETUATE RACIAL HARM by Robin DiAngelo