Review: So You Want to Talk About Race

So You Want to Talk About Race So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oluo provides a phenomenal breakdown of racism and African American identity in the US today. She uses a mixture of her own biography and experience and intersplices them with the work that she's been doing for years as a writer on the topic of racism in America. What I like particularly about her work is that she frames each chapter around a particular question, many of which are questions that' she's been asked and others are questions that are out there in the common milieu (I don't recall if she said in fact she's been asked all of these). These questions range from "Why can't I touch your hair?" (The same reason you shouldn't be touching anyone without permission & well, why the hell do you think you even have the right--read: privilege--to ask such a thing of people; it wreaks of fetishizing) to "Why am I always being told to "check my privilege"?" (because inevitably, you're making statements from an uninformed commentary about people you have little knowledge of and experience with) to "Why are students so angry?" (Well, subject any student to nearly 2 centuries of education taht is poorly-funded, utterly absence of relevant history and cultural respect, along with woeful disregard for the particular struggles and inequalities that are experienced by the majority of black students and go figure, there will be some resentment--BUT that's also doesn't ignore the fact that a willingness to stand up to injustice or to call out the inequalities is framed in such language as "angry" as opposed to "passionate"--thus, perpetuating further stereotypes about African Americans). With each chapter, Oluo grounds her answers with her own professional and personal experiences along with the appropriate discourse response from a variety of useful resources. Inevitably, her book will lead to the many others that prove helpful in making such a powerful commentary on being black in the United States.

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