(from Introduction -- "So You Want to Talk About Race") As a Black woman, race has always been a prominent part of my life. I have never been able to escape the fact that I am a Black woman in a white supremacist country. My Blackness is woven into how I dress each morning, what bars I feel comfortable going to, what music I enjoy, what neighborhood I hang out in. The realities of race have not always been welcome in my life, but they have always been there.
(from Chapter 4 -- "Why Am I Always Being Told to 'Check My Privilege'?") The definition of privilege is in reality much simpler than a lot of social justice discussions would have you believe. Privilege, in the social justice context, is an advantage or a set of advantages that you have that others do not.
Summary: Racism is such a difficult topic to talk about. In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo "guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to 'model minorities' in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible -- honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life" (Book Cover).
Review: I had grand designs in my mind about how I wanted to write this review and in the process doing the impossible -- making all my readers understand how widespread white supremacy is in our culture and what we can do to move in the right direction concerning racial issues in our country. It didn't take long for me to abandon my grand scheme -- too overwhelming -- in favor of asking you to read this book, or any similar book on the topic to increase your awareness and understanding.
I have read several books on this topic written by a variety of authors. So You Want to Talk About Race is a great place to start, if you haven't found a book to aid you on your journey moving forward. Ijeoma Olou is a half-black/half-white woman who has so many insights from her life and her research. Topics like 'checking our privilege', the 'school-to-prison pipeline', and 'tone policing' weren't new to me but she did a wonderful job explaining them and using examples to make the terms understandable. I had to sit very uncomfortably with the topic of microaggressions, police brutality (the book was published before George Floyd's death), and insights about problems in schools. Some other book titles I have read and found helpful:
- The Other Talk: Reckoning with Our White Privilege by Brendon Kiely
- The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love, and Truth by Wade Hudson
- Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad
- This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons On How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell
- Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
The third chapter is titled, "What if I talk about race wrong?" I appreciate the practicality of this chapter and other parts of the book. Sometimes I feel scared to say anything for fear I say it wrong or, god forbid, make matters worse. This chapter assures readers that it is okay to try again next time, to apologize, and don't insist people give you credit for good intentions. Baby steps. I am making baby steps in the right direction.
Book Club: My church book club just discussed this book on Tuesday evening. Though we didn't hold as robust of a discussion as I would have hoped, I recognize that everyone in the group is on a journey toward a less racist future. We are growing. Sometimes, however, discussions about our white privilege and microaggressions are tough and make us feel uncomfortable. We don't like to think of ourselves as racists or that our very skin color has laid the way for a much different life than people of color have/are experiencing. The back of the book has very thoughtful questions to guide group discussions.
The time is now. We can no longer sit back. And we will not go back. It is time to start moving toward an anti-racist future.