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256 pages, Paperback
First published January 16, 2018
So a good question to ask yourself right now is: why are you here? Did you pick up this book with the ultimate goal of getting people to be nicer to each other? Did you pick up this book with the goal of making more friends of different races? Or did you pick up this book with the goal of helping fight a system of oppression that is literally killing people of color? Because if you insist on holding to a definition of racism that reduces itself to “any time somebody is mean to somebody of a different race” then this is not the book to accomplish your goals.
Cultural appropriation is the product of a society that prefers its culture cloaked in whiteness. Cultural appropriation is the product of a society that only respects culture cloaked in whiteness. Without that—if all culture (even the culture that appropriators claim to love and appreciate) were equally desired and respected, then imitations of other cultures would look like just that—imitations. If all cultures were equally respected, then wearing a feathered headdress to Coachella would just seem like the distasteful decision to get trashed in sacred artifacts….
… because we do not live in a society that equally respects all cultures, the people of marginalized cultures are still routinely discriminated against for the same cultural practices that white cultures are adopting and adapting for the benefit of white people.
"But as I got older, as the successes I had reached for slowly became a reality, something inside me began to shift. I would try to make my voice quieter in meetings and I couldn’t. I would try to laugh off the racist jokes and I couldn’t. I would try to accept my boss’s reasons for why I could have my promotion but not my raise, and I couldn’t. And I started talking."and this:
"I had started to see myself, and once you start to see yourself, you cannot pretend anymore."OK, so she was in my brain last week. She gets how I feel. But why write a book to white people about POC feel?
These are very scary times for a lot of people who are just now realizing that America is not, and has never been, the melting-pot utopia that their parents and teachers told them it was. These are very scary times for those who are just now realizing how justifiably hurt, angry, and terrified so many people of color have been all along. These are very stressful times for people of color who have been fighting and yelling and trying to protect themselves from a world that doesn’t care, to suddenly be asked by those who’ve ignored them for so long, “What has been happening your entire life? Can you educate me?”And there you have it. These are within the first 15 pages of the book. The book is divided into 15 sections each addressing various points about white privilege. The sections explain things like defining race, cultural appropriation, intersectionality, microaggressions, systemic oppressions, school to prison pipelines, police brutality, cultural stigmas, checking one's privileges etc.
"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."The race problem cannot be solved unless we address it. And we are just now in the the 21st beginning to open an honest conversation about race. And of course talking about it is hard because it doesn't allow one to pretend it doesn't exist. If there is one thing that describes the American psyche today, it is the word "uncomfortable". We are in an uncomfortable state. As Anonymous once said
"When one is accustomed to privilege, equality can feel like oppression"And frankly even this middle-class, Black woman has become accustomed to privilege and Oluo reminds me to check myself.
Systemic racism is a machine that runs whether we pull the levers or not, and by just letting it be, we are responsible for what it produces. We have to actually dismantle the machine if we want to make change.Agreed. Another thing we agreed upon is this:
In a hostile world, people of color have the right to cut off contact with people who have harmed them. They do not have to stick around to see all the progress you’ve made.It is seriously difficult for people to understand the amount of pain and hurt and genuine disgust that I feel in many ways about the systemic racism, its violence and injustice and it's affect on my life and the people I care about. This includes my white, lifelong friend who would hang the moon for me if she thought it would make me happy. She didn't think she saw color until Obama. That time frame illuminated issues that we are still trying to overcome (both my friend and I and all of America). Racism is ugly and persistent and silent and sinister and it destroys everything. Until we all can learn how to address it, there will always be social unrest. Absolutely no one (of any race) gets a pass. Oluo points out that even through intersectionality we are all perpetrators of racism in some form. Every generation thinks they are better than the one before them, only to grow to age
--It is about race if a person of color thinks it is about race.
--It is about race if it disproportionately or differently affects people of color.
--It is about race if it fits into a broader pattern of events that disproportionately or differently affects people of color.
Am I racist?