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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“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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.”
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
“Apologize. You’ve done something that hurt another human being. Even if you don’t fully understand why or how, you should apologize. It is the decent thing to do when you respect people. You don’t have to totally “get it” to know that you don’t want to continue doing something that hurts people.”
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
“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
“I hope that if parts of this book make you uncomfortable, you can sit with that discomfort for awhile to see if it has anything else to offer you.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“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?”
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
“Bear witness. If you are a white person and you see a person of color being stopped by police, if you see a person of color being harassed in a store: bear witness and offer to help, when it is safe to do so. Sometimes just the watchful presence of another white person will make others stop and consider their actions more carefully.”
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race

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