Britta's Reviews > So You Want to Talk About Race

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
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Oh dear.
I bought this book out of a hope to be enlightened, perhaps. Or maybe it was to have a stage set to lubricate productive conversations when race inevitably comes up. I bought it because I am really lucky to have a rainbow of friends...friends who sadly experience racial microaggressions on a near daily basis... and I want to be a better advocate for them.
But at the risk of being deemed an offensive, racist B word, I can't give this book a glowing review.
I expected the book to be tricky, but it was downright hostile. I expected to be forced to check my privilege, but not to read an entire book written by someone who really kindof hates me. Not me specifically, but everything I was born as. In that way it didn't feel productive.
Her writing, while thought provoking I'm sure, is often times too snarky for me to take seriously, for example:
"Rap has long been vilified by many in 'respectable' white America. It is the language of 'thugs' and is responsible for numerous societal ills from 'black-on-black' crime to single parenthood. Rap music is the reason why your teenager is suddenly disrespectful. Rap music is the reason kids don't go to church anymore. Wife leave you? Pretty sure rap music told her to". -pg 148
I'm sorry. I just can't. I literally rolled my eyes at the last sentence.
And then there's her section about hair. I get it. I'm sure she's had her hair touched BECAUSE of her race and her beautiful hair. But as someone who has had her hair touched without her permission her ENTIRE life, I can't help but feel like it's less of a racial thing and more an issue of people not being able to keep their damn hands to themselves.
I also could not disagree with her more strongly in her assessment and comparison of the virtues of Martin Luther King Jr. vs Malcolm X. Hate and violence will ALWAYS beget hate and violence and minimizing MLKjr's impact and vision of equality because he also stood for peace appalls and repulses me.
Alas, the book isn't rotten. I did get a lot from it. Her point at the very beginning about something being about race being it was experienced THROUGH a racial perspective is eloquent (and makes me feel evil for my feelings about her hair chapter since she experienced it racially and therefore it's racial for her...). But I digress...
I'm not trying to minimize anything the author says whatsoever and I think it truly is important for those of us white Americans to get a clue and make a point to advocate for EVERYBODY, no matter their race, ability, age, sex, orientation, what have you. Despite her unendingly negative tone, I think the real message one can take away from this book is how important it is to be kind to others. At least that's what I hope.
(Added a star out of guilt.)
::winces as she hits publish::
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Reading Progress

March 19, 2018 – Started Reading
March 19, 2018 – Shelved
April 3, 2018 – Finished Reading

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