So You Want to Talk About Race
Protests against racial injustice and white supremacy have galvanized millions around the world. The stakes for transformative conversations about race could not be higher. Still, the task ahead seems daunting, and it’s hard to know where to start. How do you tell your boss her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law hang up on you when you had questions about police reform? 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 police brutality and cultural appropriation to the model minority myth in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race, and about how racism infects every aspect of American life.
"Simply put: Ijeoma Oluo is a necessary voice and intellectual for these times, and any time, truth be told." ―Phoebe Robinson, New York Times bestselling author of You Can't Touch My Hair
Praise For So You Want to Talk About Race…
“Oluo is out to help put words to action, which at this day and age, might be exactly what we need."—Forbes
"Impassioned and unflinching"
"Fascinating, real, and necessary."—The Root
"Read it, then recommend it to everyone you know."—Harper's Bazaar (Named a Top 10 Book of the Year)
"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
"A guidebook for those who want to confront racism and white supremacy in their everyday lives, but are unsure where to start."—Bitch
"Oluo offers us a reset, a starting point, a clear way forward."—dream hampton, writer, activist, filmmaker, and executive producer of Surviving R. Kelly
"A must-read primer on the politics of American racism."—Bustle
Seal Press, 9781580058827, 272pp.
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
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?