Friday, March 30, 2018
Book Review: So You Want to Talk About Race
AUTHOR: Ijeoma Oluo
PUBLISHED: January 16th, 2018
GENRE: Social Commentary, Race
PREMISE: A writer goes into the various issues surrounding race and gives advice on how to talk about it.
MY REVIEW: This book is pretty much what it sounds like: a guide for talking about race. I'm sure someone out there will try and scoff at this book, but personally, I do think it's a necessary read. Especially for us white people who want to try and have these conversations. I can't begin to tell you how many times I see white people try and start conversations about race, but then just pull out of it or give up because they feel uncomfortable, or they just are trying to use the conversation to say there is no racism anymore (if you're going to do that...just maybe, stop). If you have done this...maybe try to read this book.
It is not what I'd call enjoyment reading. I mean, I personally found the author's writing enjoyable, but I know not everyone will, because of the subject matter. But the advice given in it is really good. I'm actually personally going to try out some of the advice myself, particularly the advice about calling out casual racism when you see it. Unfortunately in the area where I live, there are a LOT of casual racists out here. I also love the bit where the author points out that you better be ready to be uncomfortable when having these conversations. I see so many people whine about how talking about race just like, makes them uncomfortable, so they don't want to do it. It makes me want to bang my head against the wall. I'm sorry, but we white people really need to get over how these conversations make US feel.
If you are going to attempt to have conversations about race, please read this book first. I also suggest reading Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson. I have not read it yet, but I read the blog post it's based on, so I also recommend Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, to remind yourself that PoC are not required to have conversations about race with you if they do not want too.
One piece of advice I have to offer is this: instead of trying to assert your opinion on race in a conversation, stop and listen instead. Fight down that part that tries to say "well I haven't seen this, so you must be lying!" and just listen to people when they try and tell you about instances of racism (or sexism/homophobia/transphobia etc.). If you stop and listen, you tend to learn stuff more. Learning helps you grow. Growth tends to make these conversations go much better.
WHO SHOULD READ: White people, anyone interested in having conversations about race
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five necessary books