One of our recommended books for 2019 is So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE


In this New York Times bestseller, Ijeoma Oluo offers a hard-hitting but user-friendly examination of race in America.

Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy–from police brutality to the mass incarceration of African Americans–have made it impossible to ignore the issue of race. Still, it is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair–and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend?

In So You Want to Talk About Race,

more …

In this New York Times bestseller, Ijeoma Oluo offers a hard-hitting but user-friendly examination of race in America.

Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy–from police brutality to the mass incarceration of African Americans–have made it impossible to ignore the issue of race. Still, it is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair–and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend?

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.

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  • Seal Press
  • Paperback
  • September 2019
  • 256 Pages
  • 9781580058827

Buy the Book

$16.99

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About Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo is a writer and speaker whose work on race has been featured in The Guardian, New York magazine, xoJane, Jezebel, and more. She is also an editor-at-large at The Establishment, and Seattle magazine named her “one of the most influential people” in Seattle.

Author Website

Praise

“Impassioned and unflinching.” –Vogue.com

So You Want to Talk About Race strikes the perfect balance of direct and brutally honest without being preachy or, worse, condescending. Regardless of your comfort level, educational background, or experience when it comes to talking about race, Ijeoma has created a wonderful tool to help broach these conversations and help us work toward a better world for people of color from all walks of life.” –Franchesca Ramsey, host and executive producer of MTV’s Decoded and author of Well, That Escalated Quickly

“You are not going to find a more user-friendly examination of race in America than Ijeoma Oluo’s fantastic new book. The writing is elegantly simple, which is a real feat when tackling such a thorny issue. Think of it as Race for the Willing-to-Listen.” –Andy Richter, writer and actor

“Ijeoma Oluo is armed with words. Her words are daggers that pierce through injustice, while also disarming you with humor and love.” –Hari Kondabolu, comedian, writer, and co-host of Politically Re-Active

“When you need a super team to help you make sense of today’s complex conversation on identity and representation, Ijeoma needs to be your number one pick. No one cuts through the chatter with more humor, insight and clarity. No matter the issue, Ijeoma’s thinking is always essential reading.” –Jenny Yang, comedian, writer, and co-founder and co-producer of Dis/orient/ed Comedy

“Oluo has created a brilliant and thought-provoking work. Seamlessly connecting deeply moving personal stories with practical solutions, readers will leave with inspiration and tools to help create personal and societal transformations. A necessary read for any white person seriously committed to better understanding race in the United States.” –Matt McGorry, actor

“Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism…. A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Read it, then recommend it to everyone you know.” Harper’s Bazaar, “One of 10 Books to Read in 2018”

“Oluo gives us–both white people and people of color–that language to engage in clear, constructive, and confident dialogue with each other about how to deal with racial prejudices and biases.” –National Book Review

“Generous and empathetic, yet usefully blunt . . . it’s for anyone who wants to be smarter and more empathetic about matters of race and engage in more productive anti-racist action.” Salon (Required Reading)

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a writer have such an instant, visceral, electric impact on readers. Ijeoma Oluo’s intellectual clarity and moral sure-footedness make her the kind of unstoppable force that obliterates the very concept of immovable objects.”Lindy West, New York Times bestselling author of Shrill   

“Oluo gets her message across with incisive wit, remarkable humor, and an appropriate magnitude of rage.”Seattle magazine

“Ijeoma Oluo has built a career on speaking truth to power. In her first book, she offers a guidebook for those who want to confront racism and white supremacy in their everyday lives, but are unsure where to start.”Bitch

“One of the few guiding lights to emerge in our post-election landscape…the goal isn’t to call out the ‘bad’ white people and console the ‘good’ ones, but to raise the bar for all of us committed to equality and justice.” –The Stranger

“White readers will find answers to many of the questions we might be afraid to ask. Readers who are people of color will find their experiences seen, heard, and believed. All readers will find themselves enraptured.” –The Denver VOICE

“Oluo’s approach to the complex topic of race in America is direct, helpful, and compassionate.” –800-CEO-Reads Staff Picks

Discussion Questions

1. In Chapter 1, “Is it really about race?,” the author states: “It is about race if a person of color thinks it is about race. It is about race if it disproportionately or differently affects people of color. It is about race if it fits into a broader pattern of events that disproportionately or differently affect people of color.” After reading the author’s explanation of these points, can you think of social or political issues that many people currently believe are not about race, but actually may be? Which of the above guidelines for understanding when it is about race fit those issues?

2. The chapter about privilege is placed right before the chapter on intersectionality. The author has stated in interviews that she placed those chapters in that order because it is impossible to fully understand intersectionality without first comprehending privilege. How do the concepts discussed in the chapter “Why am I always being told to check my privilege?” help deepen your understanding of intersectionality and help implement intersectionality into your life?

3. The author states that she grew up in a majority white, liberal area and was raised by a white mother. How might that upbringing have influenced the way that she wrote this book? How might it have influenced the personal events she describes in the book? How might this book have been different if written by a black person with a different upbringing, or if written by a person of color of a different race?

4. Throughout the book, the author makes it clear that this book is written for both white people and people of color. But does the author expect white people and people of color to read and experience this book in the same way? What are some of the ways in which the author indicates how she expects white people and people of color to react and interact with portions of the book? What are some of the ways in which the author discusses the different roles that white people and people of color will play in fighting systemic racism in our society?

5. In Chapter 12, “What are microaggressions?,” the author lists some of the racial microaggressions that her friends of color said that they often hear. What are some of the racial microaggressions that you have encountered or witnessed? What are some that you may have perpetrated on others?

6. Chapter 15, “But what if I hate Al Sharpton?,” discusses the issue of respectability politics and tone policing. What burdens of “respectability” and “tone” do you see placed on different populations of color in our society?

7. The final chapter, “Talking is great, but what else can I do?,” discusses some actions you can take to battle systemic racism using the knowledge you’ve gained from this book and from your conversations on race. What are some actions you can take in your community, your schools, your workplace, and your local government? What are some local antiracism efforts in your community that you can join or support?