Reading Recommendation: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Hello there, friends. I hope the day’s treating you well.

Today I’m featuring an anti-racist nonfiction book that I inhaled over the weekend.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

While I was listening to the audiobook, I wanted to write down so many passages that I lost count.

Oluo pulls no punches.

We live in a society where if you are a person of color, a disabled person, a single mother, or an LGBT person you have to be exceptional. And if you are exceptional by the standards put forth by white supremacist patriarchy, and you are lucky, you will most likely just barely get by. There is nothing inspirational about that.

And her writing is sometimes funny and sardonic and always true.

Race is everywhere and racial tension and animosity and pain is in almost everything we see and touch. Ignoring it does not make it go away. There is no shoving the four hundred years’ racial oppression and violence toothpaste back in the toothpaste tube.

One of the most amazing things that resulted from my reading this book is being reminded of the necessity of continuing to check my privilege. One or two instances of doing so is not enough.

When somebody asks you to “check your privilege” they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing and may in fact be contributing to those struggles. It is a big ask, to check your privilege. It is hard and often painful, but it’s not nearly as painful as living with the pain caused by the unexamined privilege of others.

Oluo’s book has me thinking about and acknowledging my privileges in real ways. It has me trying to keep in the forefront of my mind the actions I can take to help dismantle systemic racism everyday–for example, buying books from black-owned independent bookstores and calling/emailing the local powers that be to urge them to enact much-needed reforms. (Yesterday I went to a Black Lives Matter march for Justice for Dion Johnson in my city with at least 1,000 other people in ninety-six degree heat.)

This is absolutely necessary reading.


Have you read this book? Are there any anti-racist books you highly recommend?

Until next time, readers.

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