Thursday, September 5, 2019

Nonfiction Review: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Title: So You Want to Talk About Race
Author: Ijeoma Oluo
Year Published: 2019


Genre: Adult nonfiction
Pages: 238 (plus notes and index)
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)USA

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Police brutality trials, white supremacist rallies, Black Lives Matter protests. Race is the story behind many of hte issues that make headlines every day. But to talk about race itself--to examine the way it shapes our society, visibly and invisibly--can feel frightening and overwhelming, and even dangerous.

In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo offers a clarifying discussion of the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on the issues that divide us. Positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Aemricans struggling with race complexities, Oluo explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans, and asnwers the questions readers don't dare ask, like "What is cultural appropriation?" "Why do I keep being told to check my privilege?" and "If I don't support affirmative action, does that make me a racist?"

With language that is bold, prescient, funny, and finely tuned, Oluo offers hope for a better way by showing what's possible when connections are made across the divide.

Review: I have been having a lot of conversations about race and privilege lately and there was a New York Times article about good books to read to get one thinking and talking. This is one of those books.

Growing up white in this country pretty much means I don't think about my race and that's a privilege. My race helps me every day without my knowing it. Having been married to a person of color and having a daughter who is multi-racial has made me even more aware of this privilege and it has created many interesting conversations over the years.

An interesting exercise that the author suggests is to write down all of your privileges/advantages. I did this and it's amazing how long the list can be! I am white, educated, a citizen, neuro-typical, physically abled, upper middle class, stable home environment, stable and reliable housing and transportation, I have a good job with medical benefits and a retirement program, etc.

This book is a mixture of telling the truth, bringing up interesting questions to consider (affirmative action, the N-word, the school-to-prison pipeline, microaggressions, and more), making clear what policies such as hair and clothing rules in the workplace really mean, and how to approach the subject of race. For me, it was super interesting and definitely a worthwhile read.


Challenges for which this counts: 

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