So You Want to Talk About Race is a current, constructive, and actionable exploration of today’s racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that readers of all races need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide.

In So You Want to Talk About Race, Editor at Large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.

Oluo is an exceptional writer with a rare ability to be straightforward, funny, and effective in her coverage of sensitive, hyper-charged issues in America. Her messages are passionate but finely tuned, and crystalize ideas that would otherwise be vague by empowering them with aha-moment clarity. Her writing brings to mind voices like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay, and Jessica Valenti in Full Frontal Feminism, and a young Gloria Naylor, particularly in Naylor’s seminal essay “The Meaning of a Word.” (via Goodreads)

I received an eARC of So You Want to Talk About Race from Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, Seal Press, in exchange for an honest review.

I’m a regular reader of The Establishment, which Ijeoma Oluo edits, so I knew that I would like this book. What I didn’t realize is that I will be buying a copy of this for at least four of my friends.

This book is a primer that works hard not to alienate its reader. Oluo makes sure that all of her readers have a base knowledge of the topics she discusses – privilege, intersectionality, police brutality, affirmative action, the school to prison pipeline, the history and impact of the n-word, cultural appropriation, the ever popular touching of black people’s hair (just don’t), microaggressions, the “angry” black person, what happens when you get called racist, and what we can do other than talk.

This book is full of personal examples, statistics, and race theory, as well as the genuine answers to the bullshit responses that you’ll hear if you start talking about race.

This book is devastatingly important for all of us to read, particularly the more privileged of us in America. There isn’t a single word in here that isn’t necessary to tell the story we all need to hear.

If you pick up a copy on Amazon or Indiebound, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money off of it.

4 thoughts on “Review:: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo”

  1. Such an incredibly important book. I’m adding this to my to read list immediately.
    Would you say this brings something new or unique to the conversation? Or is it more focused on bringing attention to the topics in a way people that aren’t aware of them might understand better?

    1. For me, it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know about racism, etc, but I spend a lot of time educating myself about topics like the ones covered in this book. It’s more about framing them in ways that will hopefully help you talk about them to other people to make them understand, if that makes sense. And of course, Oluo’s writing is gorgeous.

  2. I can’t wait to read this book. Ijeoma Iluo has been one of my favorite social/cultural commentators for a while now, very much culminating in the absolutely phenomenal essay she wrote about Rachel Dolezal. So I’ll pretty much read anything she writes, and I’m thrilled that she has a book coming out. Very well deserved.

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