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So You Want to Talk About Race

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  97,135 ratings  ·  10,926 reviews
In this breakout book, Ijeoma Oluo explores the complex reality of today's racial landscape--from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement--offering straightforward clarity that readers need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide

In So You Want to Talk About Race, Editor at Large of The Establishment
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Seal Press
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Corina Amit, I think I understand what you are saying. I think, though, that the people who need the statistical piece are, quite frankly, looking for ways t…moreAmit, I think I understand what you are saying. I think, though, that the people who need the statistical piece are, quite frankly, looking for ways to disengage and undermine the author's points.(less)

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Gary Moreau
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What author would write a book with a target audience that is likely to consider reading it, much less paying for it, akin to wishing for a root canal? Apparently, Ijeoma Oluo.

I am a white, sexagenarian, male, and former CEO. I am, therefore, a r#cist. (And yes, I am being sensitive to the censors who will look at this before posting it.) And I accept that because this isn’t about me. My personal tolerance is irrelevant. If a picture says a thousand words, an action is worth ten thousand pictur
Kara Babcock
Do you ever accidentally inhale a book? Like, you meant to read it with your eyes, but, whoops, suddenly there it is, lodged in your esophagus and now you have to go to the hospital and explain, in various gestures, how you breathed in an entire book? This happens to me more often than I would like to admit. So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo, is just the latest instance. Thankfully, this was an eARC from NetGalley (thanks Perseus Books) and not a physical volume—though I’m certainly ...more
I have a huge interest in race, diversity, inequality and how it applies in America. I wanted to discover a book that I could recommend to friends and to people that I think are genuinely interested in understanding how people of color often think and feel and to be able to inhabit/formulate/grok a point of view that might be different from their own. On the whole, I expected to understand the points of view Oluo was presenting from the beginning and I didn't anticipate that the book would have ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Short version:
Probably the biggest crap I have ever read.

Longer version:

So You Want To Talk About Race is a waste of time, money and brain cells for anyone who comes into contact with it. Anyone with the smallest ability for critical thinking will find no need for this garbage, and those infected with the intersectionality virus are the proverbial choir being preached to. Every page is filled with hypocrisy, nonsensical jibberish and logical fallacies. Some of the 'gems':

- The 'lived experience
i am not going to review this beyond saying that this is an absolute must read book. for everyone.


as i finish up my month of reading Black authors, this one's for all my white people out there: if you think the solution to ending racism is reading a certain book or combination of books, you have a lot more work to do! this is only the start.


i am spending this month reading books by Black authors. please join me!

book 1: The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
book 2: Homegoing
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
People of every race are going to read this book—at least I hope they are. It is not written just for people still denying that racism exists in America today, but for people who know it does but do not recognize the myriad ways it manifests. Oluo writes so clearly and simply, this book just a pleasure to read, despite addressing emotionally sensitive material. It is so well-conceived and executed that one could use it as a handbook for group discussion, one or two chapters a meeting, talking ov ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Everything she says is true and necessary, but it comes off more as a shallow lecture than anything new or different. I think it could be useful as a primer or to those who don't spend a lot of time reading about race. ...more
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)
The following is partly a review but mostly a discussion of racism and privilege because, yes, I'd like to talk about race:
Am I racist?

This question hit me as I was sitting on my phone scrolling Instagram. Around the end of May 2020, George Floyd's death took the world by storm. Within hours, my feed was filled with #BlackLivesMatter and black screens. I got a message saying "[Removed for privacy] tagged you in a story". Said story was a story chain where someone tags a few other people and
Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: race, wake-up, non-fiction
"You are either fighting the system, or you are complicit. There is no neutrality to be had towards systems of injustice—it is not something you can just opt out of."

Sometimes you read a book so powerful and so important that you wish everybody would read it. ​So You Want to Talk About Race​ is one of those books. I highlighted so many sentences and entire paragraphs that I'm glad it's a Kindle version and not a print book. It is such a compelling and thought-provoking read and I learned a g
Mario the lone bookwolf
This work goes deep to the core of the problems and dismantles the grievances that are still causing an unnecessary separation in many of the wealthiest nations on earth.

The book should be read by everyone but is especially useful for white people who want to try to avoid making mistakes in getting active and to especially realize blind spots that could stay undetected. That just a few decades ago all Western institutions were racist, white supremacists that build a world for their people and th
“Being privileged doesn't mean that you are always wrong and people without privilege are always right. It means that there is a good chance you are missing a few very important pieces of the puzzle.”

I am so glad I finally got around to reading this book this month, I listened to the audiobook and I feel like that is the best way to consume this book. Ijeoma Oluo has such an incredible way with words and this book is very powerful and reminds me how much words matter. This isn't my first anti-ra
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book of essays about race. Ijeoma Oluo strikes an impressive balance between writing bold, uncomfortable truths about racism as well as crafting her essays so that they feel approachable and digestible. She covers a wide range of topics in this collection, including affirmative action, police brutality, the problem with touching black women’s hair, the model minority myth, and more. Some themes I felt across essays include the importance of actually acknowledging race (a bare minimum ...more
Elyse  Walters
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Audiobook....narrated by Bahni Turpin

This was an incredibly valuable book — clear, direct, informative, educational, insightful, easy to understand, intensely personal and full of captivating advice in a graceful and easily accessible prose. As we manage ourselves — engage in the conversations about race and confront the challenges we face — this book will help all of us with much-needed common sense.

Ijeoma Oluo, Nigerian American author, ( named on of the most influential people in Seattle), h
Bill Kerwin
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it

There are timeless books. Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me is a timeless book. Then there is another category of books I would call “books for our time.” And Between the World and Me is that kind of book too.

But consider Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race. It is definitely a book for our time, yet I doubt many people—me included—would ever consider it a timeless book. Yet paradoxically, Oluo’s book may be an even more important book for certain people to read than any of Mr.
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I stayed up late into the night reading this.

I was engaged. I loved the writing, the well-formulated arguments, and especially the focus on everyday micro-aggression. Intersectionality is pretty obvious.

So is the institutional racism.

It's not a trigger word. It's a fact.

Add this to soooo0 many small things in our everyday lives whether in conversation or news or even in our own assumptions DESPITE our best intentions, and we will be forced to realize that the institution is within us all.

Stacie C
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-book-arcs, 2017
So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

I loved this book. I finished it in a day simply devouring Oluo’s word. I can relate to so much of what Oluo was sharing and in so many ways it was validating but also depressing. I feel better knowing that I’m not the only person experiencing these microaggressions, working through these issues and surviving day to day but at the same time having these similar lived experiences makes me very well aware of how far we have to come in the U.S. when it
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
this is gonna be one of my 'non-fiction-books-i-listened-to-on-audio-but-want-to-buy-a-copy-of-for-future-reference' ...more
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This book is largely for non-POC who wish to be allies or POC who are in denial of, not aware of or unfamiliar with the systemic racism prevalent in American society. Unlike many other scholarly works on race, this book uses language that is accessible and could even be used in an AP Language course. Actually, it would probably be a great addition to an AP Language course.

Most importantly, it needs to be read far and wide by teachers especially or anyone who works with POC.
J.L.   Sutton
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ijeoma Oluo doesn’t simply want us feeling better about ourselves for having read her book; So You Want to Talk About Race is also a call to action. Most compelling is Oluo’s discussion of the damage caused by ‘everyday racism,’ the kind of racist attitudes or behavior that many don’t think really matters. What one person might see as small inconsequential actions have the cumulative weight of life experience. Words and behavior matter. Everyday racism also feeds into an acceptance of the system ...more
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, nonfiction
This should be required reading for every person.
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This is not a review. I’m not in the mood to read or review books in light of recent events. All I want to say is that all lives don’t matter until black lives matters. The way George Floyd was murdered is horrifying and heartbreaking. I can’t imagine the pain and suffering his loved ones are going through. It warms my heart that people care enough to march during this pandemic. I hope this movement doesn’t lose momentum and meaningful change finally happens. And if you’re tired of hearing about ...more
Alice Lippart
Educational and easy to understand. I think most people would benefit is one way or the other from reading this.
Jun 27, 2020 rated it did not like it
I thought I would get more out of this read than I did based on the strong recommendations. Instead, what I received was the same load of absurdity that spews fourth daily from the social justice hivemind. I was unable to find a logical argument or sensible course of action from this text.

How do you know if something is about race? Oluo's answer: It is about race if a person of color thinks it's about race.

So she shuts down any sensible discussion right from chapter 1. Nice.

Even Oluo's own mothe
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it
So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo’s new book asks. I thought I did, but after reading several chapters I realized no, no I very much did not want to. I think I’d rather talk about my receding hairline, my cholesterol levels, the abnormally large size of my physician’s fingers (the yearly physical is coming up and it will be time once again to check out that ole prostate), just about anything really, because talking about race is uncomfortable, uncomfortable, uncomfortable.

So You Want
Jul 12, 2020 rated it did not like it
I mean...I DID want to talk about race. I WAS going to write a thoughtful and fair review. But according to Ijeoma, if I’m white—I don’t get it—and therefore don’t get an opinion or place in the conversation. Awkward.

Bothered me that she said people asking to touch her hair is a racist micro aggression and the result of white supremacy. I’m white. I’ve rocked naturally curly hair for years. You don’t have claim over this America-prefers-straight-hair-and-therefore-is-racist idea.

Nope. Not ever
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent primer in talking about race and anti-racism. It is concise, well organized and well thought out. I felt all of the care that Oluo put into patiently and clearly laying out the basics of racism in the US. My main takeaways are the ways she advises responding to racist thoughts and actions, simple easy ways to reframe conversation. I'm finding it harder and harder to not just give into frustration and emotion, so I appreciated this book for its perspective of "this is very hard, and ...more
Valeria Lipovetsky
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
For someone who never talked about race in their household, this is a great starter book.
It will require you to leave ur ego aside (if you're white) and LISTEN. Not everything will resonate but some things will make you question ur deeply engrained views and understanding of how the system is failing POC.

Antoinette Scully
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Go. Read. This. Book. Well written, informative, and concerned with the reader learning, not just the author being right.

You should read this:
• If you want to talk about racial topics better
• If you’re great at talking about race
• If you never want to talk about race

Everyone should read this book. This should be the very next book you read.

For many years I thought I was woke - then I unintentionally hurt and lost one of my closest friends who is black, with a few uninformed words. It humbles and pains me that though my intent was good, the impact was devastating.

I had started to see myself, and once you start to see yourself, you cannot pretend anymore.

If only I had read Ijeoma's writing before that. So You Want to Talk About Race, in combination with Difficult Conversations, should be required reading. Ijeoma wrote each short us
Nov 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
I decided to read this book based on its high Goodreads rating. I was hoping the book would canvass the complex issues surrounding race and challenge readers to empathize with others they wouldn’t normally interact with. Unfortunately, this book appears intended for white people hoping to “check their privilege” and focuses solely on race as if only black and white people exist except for a cosmetic chapter on model minorities. The book’s arguments rarely rely on facts or statistics and in the f ...more
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Ijeoma Oluo is a Seattle-based writer, speaker, and Internet Yeller. She’s the author of the New York Times Best-Seller So You Want to Talk about Race, published in January by Seal Press. Named one of the The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2017, one of the Most Influential People in Seattle by Seattle Magazine, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Seattle by Seattle Met, and ...more

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If you've got an overflowing Want to Read shelf of books that you keep meaning to get to (one day!), you're in good company. Our company, that...
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“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else's oppression, we'll find our opportunities to make real change.” 172 likes
“Being privileged doesn't mean that you are always wrong and people without privilege are always right. It means that there is a good chance you are missing a few very important pieces of the puzzle.” 123 likes
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