book cover for So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading a book that has  helped me think and process and move my own needle a little bit as I am considering my own behavior and ideas around race.  I HIGHLY recommend So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo.    The six copies held by the MORE system are all checked out right now, so if your library doesn’t own it, you might want to consider ordering a copy of this New York Times Bestseller.  I know I’m going to want to read it again (I might have to buy my own copy of this one).

I have been thinking about/working on/reading about/learning about race and racism and privilege  for many years.  I’m still a work in progress, not surprisingly.  It’s a big and complex and difficult issue, and I’m a product of a society and system that have taught me bias and reinforced racism from the time I was born.  Sometimes, though, I think I end up with my own ego very much attached to being knowledgeable and insightful about the issues, which makes me less able to see the ways I need to improve, admit the ways I’ve messed up, and move forward.  This book has helped me take a step back and really examine this tendency, and realize that messing up is definitely going to just be part of the deal, but I still need to talk and act. 

Oluo explains a lot of basics about race and racism in a very accessible and actionable way, so its a good text for people who are just starting to bump up against these issues, but also a powerful book for people who have been thinking about this for a while.  It seems mainly written with a white audience in mind, though she does give some suggestions and ideas specifically to people of color.  She defines terms, explains concepts, provides illustrative anecdotes, examples, and analogies.  She recommends things to say in various situations, and ends with a chapter of what to do beyond talking.

If you are looking for a brief introduction, you can hear a segment she did on Wisconsin Public Radio last week! I highly recommend this book, and would love to talk to you about it once you have read it!