So You Want to Talk About Race Quotes

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So You Want to Talk About Race So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
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So You Want to Talk About Race Quotes Showing 1-30 of 208
“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else's oppression, we'll find our opportunities to make real change.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“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.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“What keeps a poor child in Appalachia poor is not what keeps a poor child in Chicago poor - even if from a distance, the outcomes look the same. And what keeps an able-bodied black woman poor is not what keeps a disabled white man poor, even if the outcomes look the same.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Disadvantaged white people are not erased by discussions of disadvantages facing people of color, just as brain cancer is not erased by talking about breast cancer. They are two different issues with two different treatments, and they require two different conversations.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“To refuse to listen to someone’s cries for justice and equality until the request comes in a language you feel comfortable with is a way of asserting your dominance over them in the situation.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“This promise - that you will get more because they exist to get less - is woven throughout our entire society. Our politics, our education system, our infrastructure - anywhere there is a finite amount of power, influence, visibility, wealth, or opportunity. Anywhere in which someone might miss out. There the lure of that promise sustains racism.

White Supremacy is this nation's oldest pyramid scheme. Even those who have lost everything to the scheme are still hanging in there, waiting for their turn to cash out.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Conversations on racism should never be about winning.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Poor people shouldn’t have to prove how much they deserve to have a roof over their heads and feed their children.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“White Supremacy is this nation's oldest pyramid scheme. Even those who have lost everything to the scheme are still hanging in there, waiting for their turn to cash out.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“If you live in this system of white supremacy, you are either fighting the system of you are complicit. There is no neutrality to be had towards systems of injustice, it is not something you can just opt out of.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“1. It is about race if a person of color thinks it is about race. 2. It is about race if it disproportionately or differently affects people of color. 3. It is about race if it fits into a broader pattern of events that disproportionately or differently affect people of color.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“I know that it's hard to believe that the people you look to for safety and security are the same people who are causing us so much harm. But I'm not lying and I'm not delusional. I am scared and I am hurting and we are dying. And I really, really need you to believe me.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“No matter what our intentions, everything we say and do in the pursuit of justice will one day be outdated, ineffective, and yes, probably wrong. That is the way progress works. What we do now is important and helpful so long as what we do now is what is needed now.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“As I said earlier, just because something is about race, doesn’t mean it’s only about race. This also means that just because something is about race, doesn’t mean that white people can’t be similarly impacted by it and it doesn’t mean that the experience of white people negatively impacted is invalidated by acknowledging that people of color are disproportionately impacted.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“When somebody asks you to “check your privilege” they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing and may in fact be contributing to those struggles. It is a big ask, to check your privilege. It is hard and often painful, but it’s not nearly as painful as living with the pain caused by the unexamined privilege of others. You may right now be saying “but it’s not my privilege that is hurting someone, it’s their lack of privilege. Don’t blame me, blame the people telling them that what they have isn’t as good as what I have.” And in a way, that is true, but know this, a privilege has to come with somebody else’s disadvantage—otherwise, it’s not a privilege.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Our humanity is worth a little discomfort, it's actually worth a lot of discomfort.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Our police force was not created to serve black Americans; it was created to police black Americans and serve white Americans.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“You have to get over the fear of facing the worst in yourself. You should instead fear unexamined racism. Fear the thought that right now, you could be contributing to the oppression of others and you don't know it. But do not fear those who bring that oppression to light. Do not fear the opportunity to do better.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“And if you are white in a white supremacist society, you are racist. If you are male in a patriarchy, you are sexist. If you are able-bodied, you are ableist. If you are anything above poverty in a capitalist society, you are classist. You can sometimes be all of these things at once.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Racial oppression should always be an emotional topic to discuss. It should always be anger-inducing. As long as racism exists to ruin the lives of countless people of color, it should be something that upsets us. But it upsets us because it exists, not because we talk about it.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Racism is any prejudice against someone because of their race when those views are reinforced by systems of power.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Over four hundred years of systemic oppression have set large groups of racial minorities at a distinct power disadvantage. If I call a white person a cracker, the worst I can do is ruin their day. If a white person thinks I’m a nigger, the worst they can do is get me fired, arrested, or even killed in a system that thinks the same—and has the resources to act on it.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“For all of the pedestals MLK is now put on, far above the reach of ordinary black Americans, Martin was in his life viewed as the most dangerous man in America.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“You are racist because you were born and bred in a racist, white supremacist society. White Supremacy is, as I’ve said earlier, insidious by design. The racism required to uphold White Supremacy is woven into every area of our lives. There is no way you can inherit white privilege from birth, learn racist white supremacist history in schools, consume racist and white supremacist movies and films, work in a racist and white supremacist workforce, and vote for racist and white supremacist governments and not be racist.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Often, being a person of color in white-dominated society is like being in an abusive relationship with the world.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Intersectionality slows things down. The simple truth is, when you are only considering the needs of a select few, it’s a lot easier to make what looks like progress than when you have to consider the needs of a diverse group of people. This is where you often hear people say things like, “Well, let’s just work on what the majority needs first and we’ll get to the rest later.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Intersectionality brings people face-to-face with their privilege. People, in general, do not like to recognize the ways in which they may be unfairly advantaged over other people.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“If I don’t have the right to deem your life, what you see and hear and feel, a lie, why do you have the right to do it to me? Why do you deserve to be believed and people of color don’t?”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“Note, if you are a white person in this situation, do not think that just because you may not be aware of your racial identity at the time that you did not bring race to your experience of the situation as well. We are all products of a racialized society, and it affects everything we bring to our interactions.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“And I am proud, but mostly, I’m angry. I’m angry, because when I look around, I’m still alone. I’m still the only black woman in the room. And when I look at what I’ve fought so hard to accomplish next to those who will never know that struggle I wonder, “How many were left behind?” I think about my first-grade class and wonder how many black and brown kids weren’t identified as “talented” because their parents were too busy trying to pay bills to pester the school the way my mom did. Surely there were more than two, me and the brown boy who sat next to me in the hall each day. I think about my brother and wonder how many black boys were similarly labeled as “trouble” and were unable to claw out of the dark abyss that my brother had spent so many years in. I think about the boys and girls playing at recess who were dragged to the principal’s office because their dark skin made their play look like fight. I think about my friend who became disillusioned with a budding teaching career, when she worked at the alternative school and found that it was almost entirely populated with black and brown kids who had been sent away from the general school population for minor infractions. From there would only be expulsions or juvenile detention. I think about every black and brown person, every queer person, every disabled person, who could be in the room with me, but isn’t, and I’m not proud. I’m heartbroken. We should not have a society where the value of marginalized people is determined by how well they can scale often impossible obstacles that others will never know. I have been exceptional, and I shouldn’t have to be exceptional to be just barely getting by. But we live in a society where if you are a person of color, a disabled person, a single mother, or an LGBT person you have to be exceptional. And if you are exceptional by the standards put forth by white supremacist patriarchy, and you are lucky, you will most likely just barely get by. There’s nothing inspirational about that.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race

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