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35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say: Surprising Things We Say That Widen The Diversity Gap

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  168 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
EVEN WELL-INTENDED PEOPLE CAN CAUSE HARM Have you ever heard yourself or someone else say: "Some of my best friends are... (Black, White, Asian, etc.)"? "I don't think of you as... (Gay, Disabled, Jewish, etc.)"? "I don't see color, I'm colorblind"? These statements and dozens like them can build a divide between us and the people we interact with. Though well-intended, th ...more
Paperback, 141 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Morgan James Publishing
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(showing 1-30 of 361)
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Leah
Aug 22, 2012 Leah rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I hate how she quotes herself all the time. I also don't agree with everything she says. Some of the comments and sayings she feels we shouldn't say I don't agree with. I also feel like she only represented certain groups in the dumb things being said. I feel that she didn't look at everything. Overall I feel her book was not complete. It did have some helpful points but needs to be expanded. I also don't like how everything is from a personal standpoint. In doing that I feel as if she was only ...more
Brendon
Jul 28, 2014 Brendon rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Folks engaging in social justice dialogues
For those looking into this book, this is not a book filled with theories or grounding frameworks regarding social justice and the work associated. There are no models on how ally development works or how folks deal with privilege and marginality. What this book does provide is a simple guide on how to engage in dialogue with those different from you.

This book is based on one of my favorite tenets of intergroup dialogue: intent versus impact. Most of us are well intentioned in our interactions
...more
Jewel
May 07, 2015 Jewel rated it it was ok
Shelves: misc
had to read it for "diversity" training thus the experience was like trying to eat a terrible meal someone made while faking a smile and saying "oh yes, this is wonderful!" the book is what it says in the disclaimer -- made for humor, entertainment and a general guide to not offend people. key word general. I imagine this book would be helpful for a small portion of people but definitely not all.
Marisa Jones
Oct 29, 2012 Marisa Jones rated it did not like it
I read this book for a class. While I believe Dr. Cullen writes well, I personally did not like this book. Most of the things she says people shouldn't say I don't necesarily agree with. Also I believe she is biased towards certian groups of individuals, making large over-generalizations put her points across to her readers.
Amy
Oct 27, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-nonfiction
This is an excellent primer for diversity awareness and training. She seasons her text with personal experiences of being advantaged and disadvantaged. We all say dumb things -- but how do we go on from there? Do we learn and grow and help others do so? Well worth the read.
Laura
Sep 30, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
I received this book as a takeaway after a diversity 411 workshop at my university wherein Maura Cullen was the guest speaker. The workshop itself was very entertaining and informative, and that how this book is too...for the most part. A little more than halfway through I began noticing a theme, something along the lines of white privilege. Unfortunately, I recently had a class on diversity wherein after our teacher surveyed had been submitted, it took a similar turn. It's not that I'm denying ...more
Gretchen
Jan 02, 2012 Gretchen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say is Dr. Maura Cullen’s guide to combating rascism and ignorance. She outlines several steps to diminishing ignorance, and addresses 35 statements that are said with good intentions, but actually only increase ignorance.

This book is kinda… boring. Most of what she says is common sense, and she repeats herself a lot. She uses really boring examples like “Say you’re driving a car, and you hit someone. You say it wasn’t your fault, but really it was.” Her examp
...more
Allison
Extremely good concept, often awkward presentation. (And I get that the presentation is hard -- advanced social justice topics for beginners is a weird line to walk.) But she has epigraphs where she quotes herself -- come ON already. And like, one of the quotes she attributes to herself is "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can scar a lifetime." No. That is not original to this author.
Andi
Oct 15, 2015 Andi rated it did not like it
If I could give zero stars, I would. This book is completely outdated, completely racist, and incredibly ridiculous. What a waste of time. I read this book because I had to for a class on diversity, but all this book taught me was how thin-skinned some people are, and how divided we have become because of this kind of thinking. I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ANYONE!
Katie
Oct 05, 2014 Katie rated it liked it
I plan to use parts of this with my first year students in a few weeks. Somewhat redundant and could cover a lot more (very little on sexism, for instance), but still useful. Cullen could provide a bit more critical analysis -- not all prejudice/injustice is of the "oops, I didn't mean to be so bigoted" kind. There needs to be a better discussion of systemic injustice.
Yaimie
Jun 28, 2015 Yaimie rated it liked it
Worth the read, but I wouldn't say it's something to rave about. I found the 10 Concepts more informative than the actual Dumb Things.

"When other people make mistakes, we seek justice. When we make mistakes, we seek compassion. The lesson is to give to others what you seek."
Misty Fogg
Mar 19, 2014 Misty Fogg rated it really liked it
Really quick read. Ended up lending this book to several other colleagues that wanted to foster a diversity discussion. Learned some thing from the book but some other things were common sense. Good jumping off point for diversity-based discussion.
Jason
Apr 11, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing
Great foundational book that can help anyone reflect on how they enter conversations with people different than them.
Justin
Aug 10, 2013 Justin rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is a beginning guide to exploring and challenging your own conceptions about diversity, in preparation for real life diversity discussions. She presents ways to initiate healthy conversations and getting over the "fear of offending someone" which is one of the biggest obstacles of progress discussion. I didn't always agree with some of Cullen's points, but that's almost the point. This caused me to analyze both sides, challenge my beliefs, and think of how to respectfully accept her op ...more
Ashlee Foster (Tidwell)
Sep 30, 2012 Ashlee Foster (Tidwell) rated it it was amazing


Maura is not only a phenomenal person to know, she is a great person to learn from. As someone who recognizes her own imperfections, she leads us on an educational journey from equal grounds, not from a holier-than-thou standpoint. While not everything this world struggles with can be placed in a book, Maura does a fantastic job of summarizing and hitting on pertinent points. This book is a must read. My only regret is that I didn't make the time to read this book sooner!
Dave
Dec 25, 2013 Dave rated it it was ok
Maybe it's because I already do a lot of work with diversity, but I didn't really take much away from this text. It seems even overly simplistic for someone new to the conversation. And the editing borders on pathetic...so many errors. Find a better text for this subject...
Julie Wilson
Jun 22, 2012 Julie Wilson rated it really liked it


This book is a quick read and a good introduction to some topics that anyone living and working with people different from themselves would benefit from. That being said it is really only an introduction to some very deep issues - but it's a start!
Sally
Oct 09, 2009 Sally rated it liked it
This book is a good introductory primer to effective anti-bias work...it was particularly good at outlining attitudes and aptitudes that folks who work well in social justice arenas use. A good "brush up" course on effective strategies...Anti-Bias 101.
Jen Topp
May 17, 2011 Jen Topp rated it it was amazing
Maura is an incredible speaker (just got to see/meet her last week at a conference) and her book reflects that. Most of it is just common sense, but put in such a way that (to quote Oprah[barf])I seem to be having tons of AHA moments while reading it.
Melissa Ortiz
Jul 04, 2013 Melissa Ortiz rated it really liked it
Interesting read, but could have been more powerful if she had elaborated more on her examples. It was a very easy read because it did not go very in depth or expand very far beyond the basic points she was trying to make.
Sally
Aug 02, 2009 Sally rated it liked it
Has some good points; a helpful book in understanding people's negative reactions to statements that are trying (earnestly but unskillfully) to make a connection, and what one might say or do instead.
Adam Demers
Jan 01, 2013 Adam Demers rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
A quick and easy read outlining the impact of words and how to rephrase your idea so your intent comes across clearly. It was brief and basic and works well simple introduction to social justice.
Molly
May 09, 2009 Molly rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2009
It's some pretty basic stuff, but I would still like to carry around 20 copies and make people read them before we have any sort of intense conversation surrounding race, gender, and/or privilege...
Chelsea Mullen
Sep 08, 2012 Chelsea Mullen rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
There were many times when I would have liked to see more depth in this book, but overall it was a good introduction to strategies for creating a more inclusive and accepting environment.
Abraham Ray
Apr 30, 2015 Abraham Ray rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people wanting to avoid insulting other people
not the best book for people NOT wanting to insult other people but ok if you want to avoid doing it.
Tricia Smith
Jun 06, 2009 Tricia Smith rated it really liked it
Very fast read. Great breakdown and easy to understand no matter your familiarity with the topic.
Janice
Oct 29, 2014 Janice added it
Shelves: won-t-finish
Providence College perspectives reading group, spring 2014
Hannah
Apr 22, 2013 Hannah rated it really liked it
Maura Cullen as a speaker is five stars.
Ashley Brown
Sep 22, 2013 Ashley Brown rated it liked it
Badly written, but great concepts.
Laura Hoffman Brauman
A good resource.
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