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I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

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From a powerful new voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America.

Austin Channing Brown's first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, Austin writes, "I had to learn what it means to love blackness," a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America's racial divide as a writer, speaker and expert who helps organizations practice genuine inclusion.

In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value "diversity" in their mission statements, I'm Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric--from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.

For readers who have engaged with America's legacy on race through the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Eric Dyson, I'm Still Here is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class, Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the reader to confront apathy, recognize God's ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness--if we let it--can save us all.

185 pages, Hardcover

First published May 15, 2018

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About the author

Austin Channing Brown

11 books912 followers
Austin Channing Brown is a media producer, author, and speaker providing inspired leadership on racial justice in America. She is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness and the Executive Producer of The Next Question: A Web Series Imagining How Expansive Racial Justice Can Be. Her workshops are incisive, fun, disarming, and transformative. By using an intentional mix of humor, pop-culture, story-telling, and audience engagement, she awakens people to the current realities of systemic racism and the everyday actions which make it possible. Whether she is being interviewed, lecturing, preaching or leading a workshop, Austin is sure to evoke thought, feeling and action as she celebrates Blackness and the possibility of justice in our organizations, teams and communities.

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5 stars
36,836 (55%)
4 stars
21,899 (32%)
3 stars
5,516 (8%)
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1,227 (1%)
1 star
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,367 reviews
Profile Image for Shayla Mays.
36 reviews34 followers
July 22, 2022
In the same way that not everyone was ready and could handle, Between the World and Me, this is another that some will have a hard time with. It was not meant to comfort white people. It's written to share a black experience. With that being said, if there is one book that could most accurately define my Christian black womanhood... my thoughts, my pain, my fear, my concerns, my frustrations, my awareness that I MUST press on despite not having much to cling to for hope... it's this book. I read it in one sitting. It was that relatable. So grateful for Austin's willingness to share her perspective and a part of her story which so many of us black women can Amen to.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
Author 3 books59 followers
December 6, 2018
Update on the second read-through. Turns out I gave that first copy away to my student, a senior black student, my advisee, who's "so done" (for good reason) with the institution where I work--an institution like many of the institutions Brown works for. I bought another copy to teach from this week in a Theology and Literature of the Black Body.

Finished this book today. Handed it to my white kids as soon as I closed the cover. Listen, I said.
506 reviews40 followers
June 28, 2018
I read this book with the hope that Ms Brown would illuminate what actual justice or equality would look like. It was largely a memoir and a good one. I went school in the 70s and 80s so my experience was different but I was surprised to hear about hers as I had assumed things had changed somewhat since I had been in school. She seemed put off by the fact that the predominantly white school she attended taught and treated her through the lens of 'whiteness', but I am not sure how they could have done any different seeing as how her classmates and teachers were white. I see that as a frame of reference problem (if I am not black or French or Chinese how can I treat you culturally the way your people would?) not so much as a discrimination issue. I would not expect a predominantly black congregation to start conforming to my cultural 'white' requirements or needs so I am not sure why the expectation is there in the reverse setting. Again, how would we know what is the right thing to do?
I was steadfastly behind her with regards to her outrage at being touched without permission, called names, assumed to be a welfare recipient instead of an employee, and being yelled at by anyone for having different views.
Everyone's personal experience is valid -- afterall it is theirs. However, I don't think the answer is to be racist against whites. Many 'whites' would like to know what it is that is wanted from us in this racial justice regard and this book did not have any real answers. I have the impression that nothing I did or said as a white woman were I to meet Ms Brown would be the correct response. She herself indicated in several places in the book that she knew what white people were thinking when they met her or talked with her. This is extremely judgmental and if it were to be said about black people would be considered racist without question. If we are hurt by this prejudgement we are considered 'fragile'. So, basically, it is not okay for white people to express their feelings with regards to this topic, but it is fine for black people to do so.
The bottom line is people are ALL different. We were all raised in different home situations, cultures, neighborhoods, etc. I don' t believe it is really possible to reconcile an entire people group to another one. Even Jesus worked on an individual basis and sent his disciples out to also work on an individual basis.
Profile Image for Danielle.
792 reviews389 followers
February 28, 2021
A short impactful portrayal of Austin’s life experience. I’ll never assume to know what she or any other minority experiences day to day. I am aware that white privilege is real and we can all do better to recognize the need for change.
Profile Image for Holly.
1,415 reviews960 followers
July 21, 2020
3.5 stars

This was short, but impactful. I consider myself, like probably most white people, to not be a racist. However this book opened my eyes a little more to the fact that in some ways I prioritize not being seen as a racist over educating myself in ways to actually not be racist. There's of course different shades of racism, from the KKK burning crosses all the way to daily microaggressions. I think the one I am most guilty of is the expectation of assimilation to white cultural norms, something I have never given active thought to before.

I will say that this book does have a strong slant specifically towards how race applies to (white) Christianity as that is the author's personal, educational, and professional background. As someone who isn't particularly religious, I didn't connect as much with the parts that had that focus. Though it did resonate with my general beliefs towards white churches - they talk the talk more than they walk the walk when it comes to things outside of their own mindset and view.
Profile Image for Leigh Kramer.
Author 1 book1,166 followers
March 11, 2018
If you're at all familiar with Austin Channing Brown, you know she is a gifted communicator as both a writer and speaker. I had high hopes for her first book and I was hooked from the first page. I had intended to only read the first few chapters and before I knew it, I chucked my plans for the day and wrapped myself up in the pages of Austin's story.

By the time I finished reading, I was even more in awe of Austin. I'm Still Here is truly phenomenal.

Austin shares how even her very name challenges people's assumptions. People expect to a white man when they see the name Austin; they don't always know what to do with the Black woman before them. She grew up and has worked in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches. And with those majority-white spaces come stereotypes, biases, and prejudices.

Austin shares her trajectory from believing she was the white culture whisperer after college to seeing how white supremacy infected programs supposedly dedicated to racial reconciliation. 

"The role of the bridge builder sounds appealing until it becomes clear how often the bridge is your broken back." p. 42

In chapter 5, titled Whiteness At Work, Austin details the microaggressions she experienced in her average workday at a Christian organization. It was staggering to see them listed out and know this was just an average day. One of many. And then to see how the organization had no interest in changing when Austin pointed out the biases present, despite its supposed commitment to diversity in the workplace. 

It is little wonder why Austin finds white people so exhausting. I can only imagine the bone-deep tiredness that comes after a lifetime of existing as a Black woman in primarily white spaces. 

White readers will need to pay special attention to the sections exploring the difference between white fragility and taking full ownership of facing your own racism. If you are white, you have internalized racism, even if you don't see it. This is what it is to live in a society stacked in your favor from the moment you are born and this is why it's important for us to confront our privilege and interrogate our biases.

More importantly, we cannot—we must not—rely on People Of Color to help us do that. As Austin notes, she is "not the priest for the white soul" (p. 65.) 

I was very moved by Interlude: Letter To My Son. I was also moved when Austin shared about her fears that crop up whenever her husband or dad travels. She worries they'll be pulled over and won't make it home. It's horrifying that this is not an unrealistic fear, that there's nothing we can say in reassurance. It's a profound reminder of why we need to keep fighting for justice and the eradication of white supremacy at every level. 

There are tough truths here but there is also joy as Austin reflects on the gifts the Black church has given her and what she loves about being a Black woman. I loved reading about her memories of her childhood and time with her family, as well as her love for books and the library.

Each chapter builds upon the one before it in a way that is masterful. This mastery becomes especially clear in the final two chapters. The last chapter is a reflection on hope and hopelessness and it is precisely what I needed to read for so many reasons. 

"This is the shadow of hope. Knowing that we may never see the realization of our dreams, and yet still showing up." p. 105

Then I read the final paragraph and Austin brought it all home and my only thought was, "holy shit." It was that powerful. I read it again and then again and let her words sink in. The whole book builds toward that moment and it is absolutely incredible getting there. Highly recommended.

Disclosure: I was provided a review copy from Convergent in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Raymond.
332 reviews238 followers
May 4, 2019
"This book is my story about growing up in a Black girl's body."

"I am not a priest for the white soul."

"Our only chance at dismantling racial injustice is being more curious about its origins than we are worried about our comfort."

This is a powerful book. Many of Brown's experiences being black in a white world have echoed my own. However, they are more visceral because she lives with the double bind of being a black female. Her book is part memoir and also has elements of James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Her voice is unique because she focuses alot on her interaction with white Christians, especially those who purport to be "nice" and not racist. Chapter 8-"The Story We Tell" and Chapter 14-"Standing in the Shadow of Hope" are my favorite chapters in the book. Brown has a way with words, this is clear in Chapter 14 when she writes about her relationship with "hope".
Profile Image for Brandice.
827 reviews
June 30, 2020
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness is Austin Channing Brown’s story of growing up in a predominately white world. She talks about her childhood and church, her family, her experiences in college and the work world, and throughout all of this, embracing being Black.

Austin is spot on in her discussion of many workplaces. I rolled my eyes multiple times in frustration on her behalf as she recounted comments and challenges from coworkers, even those alleging they meant no harm. An overhaul of workplace culture is necessary, particularly in the corporate world — Too often companies issue distant, jargon-laden statements, hosting a round table discussion once or twice, claiming they offer an inclusive environment and have zero tolerance for racist behavior/ comments, then continuously move on until the next instance of tragedy (that they become aware of). White people should be speaking less and listening more, at work and elsewhere, everywhere.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Austin herself, which I highly recommend. While short in length, I listened to it in small parts over the last week, taking in each piece of her story. I’m Still Here highlights several ongoing issues in our society and serves as a timely reminder we have much to learn — Change doesn’t happen by hoping, it happens through action.
Profile Image for Mari.
701 reviews4,670 followers
July 3, 2022
This was an excellent collection of essays with a clear and concise voice. It was also such a personally meaningful experience for me, a black, Christian woman who has also often been the only one in the room. This was clear-eyed and honest. It managed to both be realistic and hard-hitting, but hopeful and full of love. There wasn't much here that felt new to me, in terms of ideas, but they were things well conveyed and tied to Austin's personal experiences. She tells her own story well. I will recommend this pretty widely.
Profile Image for Layla.
328 reviews360 followers
August 8, 2021
~ 3.5 stars ~

I've been putting off reviewing this, simply because I didn't know how to. Memoirs are usually harder for me to review, because any critique of the book comes off as a critique on the person's life, or how they want to present it. So I want to start off by saying that my intent with this review is not to judge or dictate if this is a good or bad book or not. I will state subjectively the things I thought were done well, and the things I wish were done differently.

I do think that this was a good book on racial injustice, and I do greatly appreciate Brown being able to share her story as a Black Woman, and what that means to her and from everyday life, in a system not designed for or to benefit her. This was very faith centered, so it definitely felt like it was targeted towards her White Christian counterparts, which I am not, though this aspect did not bother me while reading, it is worth noting.

The letter in the end to her son was especially heartwarming. I really loved that she decided to add that in, because it's something super meaningful and close to the heart.

Yet, I do really wish it delved deeper into certain topics, and this was one major thing that I would have liked. With my personal preferences, more would have been amazing, and just in general for it to have been more intersectional with her identities as both being both Black and a Woman.

Overall, I do recommend it. I was able to finish this in a few hours, it was a quick read.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
771 reviews1,148 followers
August 15, 2020
"Even when the world doesn’t believe that Black bodies are capable of love. Even when it doesn’t believe that I survive on intimacy, that I need other beings for love. Even when I would prefer to be immune, I am human. I demand intimacy. I demand tomorrow. I demand love."

I was hesitant to read I'm Still Here after seeing in several reviews that the author talks a lot about her religion. I thought it would be prevalent throughout the book, taking away from its message.

I decided to read it anyway, just ignoring the religion, because I'm trying to learn as much as I can about race, racism, and anti-racism.

How glad I am that I did! 

Austin Channing Brown shares her experience of growing up Black in America. An America where racism has always been strong and white supremacy is built into the very fabric of our nation.

I found Ms. Brown's writing to be powerful and insightful and though she does write some about her faith and religion, it was not as ubiquitous as I'd thought. 

If you're doing the work of unlearning racism and learning more about the Black experience in America, this is definitely a book to add to your list.

As with all books I've read on race, I'm Still Here further opened my eyes to how racism manifests through me and made me more aware of the things I say that are hurtful to others. 

I am grateful to Austin Channing Brown for sharing her experience and her insight. 

I leave you with a  few quotes from the book:

"I learned pretty early in life that while Jesus may be cool with racial diversity, America is not."

"White supremacy is a tradition that must be named and a religion that must be renounced. When this work has not been done, those who live in whiteness become oppressive, whether intentional or not."

"When you believe niceness disproves the presence of racism, it’s easy to start believing bigotry is rare, and that the label racist should be applied only to mean-spirited, intentional acts of discrimination."

"Our only chance at dismantling racial injustice is being more curious about its origins than we are worried about our comfort."

"I am not impressed with America’s progress. I am not impressed that slavery was abolished or that Jim Crow ended. I feel no need to pat America on its back for these “achievements.” This is how it always should have been. Many call it progress, but I do not consider it praiseworthy that only within the last generation did America reach the baseline for human decency."
Profile Image for Chanequa Walker-Barnes.
Author 4 books132 followers
June 2, 2018
Absolutely breathtaking! Just a few pages into this book, I knew that I had to finish it in one day. Austin Channing Brown does what many of us have been needing for so long: she centers her Black womanhood in her memoir of racial justice, reconciliation, and Christianity. By doing so, she demonstrates what womanist theologians have consistently claimed: when you begin with the experiences and needs of Black women, you articulate a theology that encompasses all. This is a memoir, to be sure, but it is every bit a work of theology, in which Brown makes bold claims about who God is and who God intends for us to be to one another.
Profile Image for Lisa.
569 reviews19 followers
July 3, 2018
This was a tough read for a do-gooder white lady to read. Very convicting about the ways that my needs trump those of people of color and how much I want them to adapt to me and my group. I want diversity without having to change. Very personal and explicit. Not for the faint of heart—but more of us white people should be brave.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Green.
235 reviews16 followers
June 16, 2018
While I am giving this book a two star rating I do believe that I did in fact learn a few things from this book and am better for it. Also it did cause me to think and evaluate how I perceive the world and if my thought process needs some tweaking.

What I liked:
Brown was honest and wrote with so much passion. Brown also shared some of her personal life expierence regarding racism and talks about sometimes theses things are not seen by the majority of the the United States. I also like how she talked about suggestions for reducing racism and the need for more education on harmful stereotypes.

“Even if you put it back on the shelf, Austin, you can’t touch store products and then put your hands in your pockets,” he explained as his large hands gently removed mine from their denim hiding place. “Someone might notice and assume you are trying to steal."

Austin's illustration such as a simple shopping trip really point out something I've never noticed or thought about before. People of Color are thought a different set of rules due to systematic racism.

The next quote is reason enough to read this book:

“What would you think of those guys if you hadn’t just spent the afternoon with them?” It only took her a moment to tell the truth. “I would have looked at their skin color and tattoos, the way they dress and their playfulness and assumed they were gang members.”

I have really be thinking about how I double check to make sure my doors are locked when I drive through a rough area. I'm not 100% positive its just because bars are on windows of houses and business or if it's the color of peoples skin. Quite frankly I don't know I've have ever driven in an area with bars on the windows where the dominate race is white. But it really makes me think if there is some subconscious racism in me.

What I had problem's with:
Austin failed to mention that identifying/ stereotyping a person by their skin color is harmful no matter what the color is. In fact she had no problem describing racism as something all white people did. Not some white people it was just simply "white people"

Some of Austin's illustration to point out a point simply aren't an illustration of racism and things that all of us go through. At one point Austin describes and entrance when a women mistakes her for another person of color are claims that its because she black and that no one can see past her skin color. I can't tell you as a white person how many times someone has emailed me and talked to me in person and it was clear I wasn't the person they thought I was.

The message: My body, my person is not distinct; I am interchangeable with all other Black women.

At times it seems that Austin believes that simply being white makes a person racist and that there is nothing they can do that will not make them racist.

That if they smile at people of color, hire a person of color, read books by people of color, marry or adopt a person of color, we won’t sense the ugliness of racism buried in the psyche and ingrained in the heart.

At one point she mentions that "People of color are told that... that white people’s needs, feelings, and thoughts should be given equal weight.". It really infuriated me that she would think that everyone's needs, and feelings should not be equal. In fact throughout the book the words "Black" and "Blackness" are capitalized while "white" and "whiteness" are not. This demonstrates that Blacks are supior to whites and not promoting a message that all people should be equal regardless of skin color. It really goes against the argument she makes against racism. Aprrently it is okay as long as its against whites and not people of color.

There are many other instances of this throughout the book. Also there was no data that she gave in the book that supported her claims. I know that there is I just wish she would have provided it. Also I was left to question the legatmicy of her claims after she made a claim that Christopher Columbus's landed on the United States of America when in fact he never did step foot onto this country. And the complete lack of data or evidence toward her other claims left me with some doubt that she fact checked what she was claiming.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,058 reviews353 followers
July 12, 2020
I don't currently rate books I'm reading for my own education/personal growth or what could be classed as memoirs.

This is a very personal view on what it is to be a Black Christian woman in America today. It looks at the daily microaggressions Austin experiences, the evolution of racism and how this has changed her outlook on life as well as examining some hard truths about white fragility and white tears. Unlike some recent books I've read on the topic, I appreciated that this was very singular to Austin herself. It talked about her personal experiences as opposed to lumping every Black individual into one category. Yes, all experience racism at the hands of a privileged white world, but every experience is still unique and should be voiced.
Profile Image for Mina.
239 reviews138 followers
February 20, 2021
Great book. Concisely written with distinct examples of what it means to live in a predominantly white world.
"To be a black person in this world and to be relatively conscious of your blackness, is to be in a rage almost all the time."- James Baldwin
Figuring out how to control that rage so that it won’t destroy you is a mind trip because as soon as you think you have it made, something else happens sometimes even something worse.
Also, here's the thing that's part of the rage which can be summed as majority of it; it isn’t only what is happening to you, but it’s what’s happening all around you all of the time.
Most of all though is the indifference and ignorance of most white people.
I liked this book because it was filled with connotations of positivity (I think mainly because the author is a Christian/theologian-I do admit some parts on Christianity lost me since I'm not one but the message was received.)
This is the kind of transformative literature that we need.

Big up Austin also I think your parents are Geniuses!
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,659 followers
December 28, 2018
Everything Brown says is right and true. She writes it clearly and well. And everyone who has not already internalized the message of white privilege needs to keep reading these books until they can understand what it is like to not have white privilege. However, there is so little in this book and in others that might push us forward. And don't get me wrong, I don't mean optimism and hope, but change. I get the feeling in all these books that white supremacy is so ingrained that whatever is done is an indication of white supremacy. and sometimes, I think that's right. But I also feel ready for some books about going forward. A branch of help for those who might want to help. Maybe more akin to Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy that gives that mercy to those who want to change and understand.
Profile Image for Ali Edwards.
Author 6 books912 followers
February 2, 2019
There is nothing else to say besides this: this is an important book that should be read by everyone. Stories matter, especially those who have been marginalized over history.
Profile Image for chantel nouseforaname.
624 reviews305 followers
February 10, 2019
You know this is the second time I started reading this book. A few months ago I read the first chapter and was like.. okay, I get it but it wasn't enough to draw me in. This time around I was like, I should give this book the attention it deserves and I'm glad that I did. The second maybe third to the fourth chapter was really where it jumped off.

There is so much power in this book. Austin Channing Brown started off mad slow, taking her time to dive into the contents on the cover. Maybe it's because I couldn't necessarily relate to her growing in the church, my parents never gave me "the talk" narrative at the beginning that had me rolling my eyes. Maybe it's just that I don't trust organized religion like Christianity and am skeptical of all literature coming from a place rooted in Christianity, but once I got past that she had so much to say about the everyday injustices that exist towards people of colour, especially within academic establishments as well as career-wise, post-academia. I really felt like this is an employment book rooted in navigating microaggressions as a black person in predominantly white, pretend-to-be-inclusive places of employment.

There are so many dope segments in this book. So many places to look towards for understanding and to share with others as a means of highlighting truths of the black experience. Every page forward in this book until the very end was more informative and freeing and space creating and life-affirming than the page before it. Her letter to her son was just beautiful; conjuring Ta-Nehisi Coates and walking in that path of sharing truths from this generation to leave behind for future generations.

Even though the start was a little too high-brow for me, a little too privileged for me to get into; I really enjoyed this and think that it is a high-quality piece of work. Austin Channing Brown gives you nothing but black truth here.
Profile Image for Annie.
106 reviews37 followers
August 19, 2018
"I'm Still Here" was written for black women. As a white woman, I spent the majority of the book feeling like a voyeur - I learned from the stories but rarely connected with Austin's. And that's the point. I need to read more stories in which I don't see any part of myself. I need to listen and learn and listen some more. Austin Channing Brown reminds me that it's not her job to educate me on my journey to understanding racial justice. But this book definitely helped me see my own uncomfortable privilege and biases.
Profile Image for Erin Beall.
442 reviews119 followers
June 18, 2018
Absolutely magnificent. The female, Christian answer (not critique, not correction, but response— as in, call and response) to Coates’s Between the World and Me. A must read for Christians of conscience. 5 stars.
Profile Image for Marcia.
138 reviews21 followers
March 7, 2020
It's always difficult to rate an autobiography, as it seems ludicrous to assign a star rating to someone's lived experiences. Add in the racial tensions and the heavy content and I feel reluctant to assign anything below 5 stars.

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown is a collection of the author's lived experiences, a description of life for a black woman within a system created by white people with for the express purpose of promoting the white person's interests.

The most compelling part of this book is the description of Channing Brown's childhood and the experience of growing up in a world so far removed from my own. It was heart-breaking to learn of the mindfulness that people of colour in America are forced to live with, such as her father instructing her to be aware of her behaviour in a store:

"Even if you put it back on the shelf, Austin, you can't touch store products and then put your hands in your pockets..."

Channing Brown recollects her life from elementary school through to post-secondary, focusing on specific experiences directly related to her skin colour which either caused her to experience discomfort or a sense of feeling understood. (Spoiler alert: the former occurs much more than the latter.) As she enters in the professional working world, she then once again meets racism and prejudice within her workplace, as both a black person and a female.

In some shared experiences, I feel that Channing Brown shares situations that she feels she experienced as a person of colour, but which one could argue are examples of patriarchal misogyny that every woman in North America faces. Furthermore, although Channing Brown doubles down on whiteness stereotyping her due to skin colour, she conversely does the same for white people. Do all white people sail, ski, or wash their hair every day? More importantly, do a majority of white people do so? In reading this book, I had to remind myself that Channing Brown can only describe the attributes of white people she had been exposed to. She seemed to lack basic understanding of life for a white person growing up in poverty and completely ignores the prejudice of classism that people of any skin colour face.

Continuing on, Channing Brown writes a chapter about valuing all black lives (brought to forefront of people's minds due to the Black Lives Matter movement), including those of black criminals - her own cousin. This chapter was perhaps the most confusing of all in terms of logic. She describes her cousin Dalin who she states is a known drug dealer, but also a multi-faceted persona.
Due to the mandatory minimum sentences introduced by Bill Clinton, Channing Brown explores her cousin's third-strike-you're-out ten year prison sentence, and is left in anguish and rage when he dies needlessly due to poor care provided by the prison system. Unfortunately, Channing Brown conflates judgment of someone's criminal activities ("drug dealer") with a white person's desire to hinge the criminal activity on one's colour of skin.

"We don't even talk about white murderers this way. Somehow we manage to think of them as people first, who just happened to do something bad."

Who is "we" and where is this assumption birthed? For myself, I have never viewed murderers as "people first who happened to do something bad". People, regardless of skin colour, make evil hurtful choices; it has nothing to do with "happening to do something bad" - it is a decisive choice made. Perhaps once again this a case of the quality of whiteness surrounding Channing Brown, but I know few white people who excuse away a notorious white murderer and attempt to humanize them due to the colour of their skin.

I believe this autobiography has an important message for it's readers, regardless of skin colour. The experiences that Channing Brown shares and ordeals she has suffered through due to skin colour is wrong. What I struggled with the most reading this book was the generalized rhetoric that pervaded some sentences:

Even when the world doesn't believe that Black bodies are capable of love.

Perhaps written to spur us forward into being allies to people of colour, I struggled with a book that offered no practical insight on how to be an ally. In fact, one of the sentiments expressed was that black people are tired and exhausted trying to explain to whiteness how to treat them. Yet, without knowing how to change and ways to help, it leaves one wondering what the aim of these essays are.

I suppose I am left extrapolating that this is a book for the author to rightfully rage in - to rage against the racial divide and stereotyping that people of colour in America face today. To rage again mistreatment, and to connect with others who have lived those same experiences.

For us, the white people - what we must do is listen. Listen to the stories, listen to the heart-break and pain, and to remind ourselves that these stories and books aren't about us.

Barring my conflicting feelings about the general purpose of this book, I will add that I found there was a lack of cohesiveness to the writing quality and the outline of the book. An example would be the subject of Channing Brown's cousin Dalin and the ensuing outcome of his life and lasting effects on those around him. Channing Brown spreads this lesson over a course of three chapters that feel disjointed, when it may have been wiser to have written a longer chapter, compacting the subject into a stronger piece of work rather than diluting it over the chapters. In some ways the autobiography feels like a stream of consciousness that Channing Brown has written, rather than an organized reflection; she touches on many subjects, but does not delve deeply, which leaves the reader wanting more.

Finally, Channing Brown leans strongly into the role of people of colour in American churches. Even though she touts Christian philosophy, Channing Brown implies that white people should give their power to people who have been marginalized, and uses the story of Jesus' life as an example to support her stance. However, it is important to note that Jesus, who lived as a marginalized Jew during Roman occupation, did not urge any of his followers to demand power from the Romans as a wronged and marginalized people group. To be clear, I am not advocating that systemic racism and prejudice be allowed to continue unchecked and unquestioned - but I believe that using Jesus as a example for a transference of power in the American church is theologically incorrect.

It is disheartening to read of pervasive prejudice and racism within the American church. Channing Brown challenges the notion of "reconciliation" in the church, condemning halfhearted attempts to create racial equality, while failing to birth any tangible and lasting change. Once again though, there remains few practical pointers on how a Christian can be an ally within the church to people of colour.

As a person with a practical mindset, I enjoy reading non-fiction books that cause the reader to help exact the change needed and wanted by the writer. Unfortunately, this book left me flummoxed. Reiterating what I stated above - I came to the conclusion that this book was cathartic for the writer (which is, of course, important), and not meant to be a compass pointing us to practical steps and action one can take.
Profile Image for MissBecka Gee.
1,445 reviews586 followers
January 28, 2021
Straight away she addresses that her name makes people assume she is a white man.
Truth: I assumed the author was male when I saw her name.
She had my attention.
Austin has a wonderful charisma and her stories are both lovey and at times...absolutely abhorring.
I think my favourite part was when she took us though an average days interactions at her workplace.
All the things she presents are (what should be) normal tasks/interactions at work. The number of hoops she jumps though at work to make sure she isn't offending anyone, just by being in the room, was insane to me.
It's not something I have ever thought about...which is exactly what white privilege means.
I'm thinking about it now.
I encourage all my chums to give this a read, you won't regret it.
Profile Image for Ellie.
1,458 reviews370 followers
May 23, 2020
Austin Channing Brown starts her story of her life as a black woman in white America by explaining how she got her name: so that when she grew up and applied for jobs, she would get an interview before the possible employer discovered she was African American and thus have a shot at getting the job.

Brown describes her experience of diversity: there is a quota and brochures proudly show that it is being met, but the employee is not listened to and is expected to be patient and understanding of racist statements and acts, educate the offender, and of course, never be angry.

White America sucks and as a white American that is more than embarrassing. But things will never change unless the truth is spoken. Brown speaks it loud and clear and eloquently.

Profile Image for Adria.
52 reviews1 follower
September 15, 2020
I found this book to be disturbingly narcissistic. The foundation of our society is not the hatred of black people. White people's lives are not animated by the hatred of black people. Believing that the world revolves around hating you is still believing that the world revolves around you. This is a delusion that is incredibly harmful to all people, regardless of color.

On a side note, I find the use of the term "black and brown bodies" to be especially dehumanizing. Are we talking about human beings with soul and spirit or just bodies? I can't keep up...
Profile Image for Whitney.
131 reviews49 followers
July 6, 2020
Overall: A powerful and angry memoir detailing a black women's experiences in a society built in favor of whites. Great attention to detail but overall lacking in practical solutions or advice on how to improve the system 3/5 or 5.5/10.

Summary: A memoir of sorts detailing the author's life and experience as a black women living in a society built and favored to whites. The books starts off with explaining that her parents named her Austin so that potential employers would “assume you are a white man.” She delves right in and recreates a typical interview: “Every pair of eyes looks at me in surprise.... Should they have known? Am I now more impressive or less impressive?... It would be comical if it wasn’t so damn disappointing.” She describes her life and important experiences from childhood through adulthood. There is a focus on Christianity but more so, the author recognize and fights against “America’s commitment to violent, abusive, exploitative, immoral white supremacy, which seeks the absolute control of Black bodies.”

The Good: Meticulously detailed and very straight forward writing that I appreciated. Uncomfortable topics that make you think and grow. The author brings to life many life situations she has been in and problems she has had to deal with. She does this with great attention to detail while also being very candid. It made me think about these issues and question the way things have been and continue to be in society that enable racial injustice. The biggest take home I took from this is that the author calls on readers to live their professed ideals rather than simply state them.

The Bad: My biggest critique is that it was very preachy. It was also quite one dimensional. Written well with very clear perspective but I wish she offered alternate points of view or more so, offered more concrete advice on how to solve some of these problems.

Favorite Quotes:
“This is the shadow of hope. Knowing that we may never see the realization of our dreams, and yet still showing up.”

“Anger is not inherently destructive. My anger can be a force for good. My anger can be creative and imaginative, seeing a better world that doesn’t yet exist. It can fuel a righteous movement toward justice and freedom.”

“But I am not impressed with America’s progress. I am not impressed that slavery was abolished or that Jim Crow ended. I feel no need to pat America on its back for these “achievements.” This is how it always should have been. Many call it progress, but I do not consider it praiseworthy that only within the last generation did America reach the baseline for human decency. As comedian Chris Rock says, I suppose these things were progress for white people, but damn. I hope there is progress I can sincerely applaud on the horizon. Because the extrajudicial killing of Black people is still too familiar. Because the racist rhetoric that Black people are lazier, more criminal, more undeserving than white people is still too familiar. Because the locking up of a disproportionate number of Black bodies is still too familiar. Because the beating of Black people in the streets is still too familiar. History is collapsing on itself once again.”

“Our only change at dismantling racial injustice is being more curious about its origins than we are worried about our comfort. It's not a comfortable conversation for any of us. It is risky and messy. It is haunting work to recall the sins of our past. But is this not the work we have been called to anyway? Is this not the work of the Holy Spirit to illuminate truth and inspire transformation? It's haunting. But it's also holy.”
Profile Image for Rachel | All the RAD Reads.
992 reviews1,032 followers
July 7, 2019
This has jumped to the top of my “everyone in America needs to read this book ASAP” list and I cannot rave about it enough. Austin has so powerfully and honestly told her story in a way that has opened my eyes even more and changed me in ways I won’t forget. This is just simply a must-read. It’s incredible and I’m grateful for her voice and work in a world that has so, so far to go
Profile Image for Kathleen.
874 reviews
August 6, 2020
4.45 rounded up to 5 stars. This is a powerful book! I'M STILL HERE: BLACK DIGNITY IN A WORLD MADE FOR WHITENESS by Austin Channing Brown is about how her determined quest for identity, understanding and justice shows a way forward for us all.
Austin Channing Brown writes about her life growing up to be a black woman in the USA.
As a black baby girl her parents gave her the name Austin Channing Brown so that when she became old enough to apply for jobs, the potential employers would see the masculine name and grant her an interview on the grounds of her education and experience. Otherwise her application and resume would most likely be automatically weeded from the pile, as employers prefer giving high paying and high status jobs to white males.
The author gives the reader a glimpse of the racial discrimination and injustice she has been subjected to. Whenever her husband or father leave home she is concerned for their safety.
I highly recommend that you read this page-turning idea-driven memoir about racial discrimination and injustice.
**Special thanks to Austin Channing Brown for writing this book. Thanks to Convergent Books, Crown Publishing Group, and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this book, which enabled me to read it and write a review. The thoughts expressed here are my own.
Profile Image for Tiernan.
114 reviews1,741 followers
June 13, 2020
Listened to this entire audiobook on a long drive tonight...I’ll be recommending this for the rest of my life. Every white person needs to read and hear these powerful words. Not only that, but it is a beautifully written memoir by a writer I absolutely love.
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