Title: So You Want to Talk About Race
Author: Ijeoma Oluo
In a nutshell:
Are you a racist? Don’t answer that just yet until you’ve read this book. Then, answer it. Truthfully.
This book gives a brutally honest look into race, racism and racial violence, to name some of it. The author answers difficult questions like “What is racism”, “What is intersectionality”, “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is the school-to-prison pipeline?” “What are micro aggressions”, and “What is cultural appropriation?”, just to name a few. In these chapters, Oluo shares her own experiences with racism, at times funny, but deeply unsettling too.
The writing is thoughtful and accessible. She also provides the reader useful tools that can be used to fight racial oppression, in simple straight-forward points. But what’s the point of having these tools if only to be set aside and forgotten? Sharpen them. Use them.
“Act now, because people are dying now in this unjust system. How many lives have been group up by racial prejudice and hate? How many opportunities have we already lost? Act and talk and learn and fuck up and learn some more and act again and do better.”
It is a tough road, even tougher for those who face racial prejudice and hate on a daily basis. But if we believe ALL LIVES matter, if we vehemently believe there should be liberty and justice FOR ALL, we should walk the talk.
I’d like to share some of my experiences living here, in the US, as an Asian.
AS you already know, I love to read. When I was still working, I read during my lunch breaks. One of my colleagues noticed a book I was reading (pretty thick one), and she asked me, “You can read that? You understand it?”
And this, “You know your letters A-Z? Don’t your people write them in a different way?”
Mind you, they are teachers.
More: “Wow, you speak pretty good English.” And the common, “Your eyes are quite big for a Chinese.”
And I overheard this in school one day: “I heard their people eat dogs.”
I really didn’t know how to react to ALL the above. I was shocked beyond words. But instead of fighting back and saying something, I just smiled out of politeness.
Those comments above are what you call, racist microaggressions, from what I learned.
If only this book had been published then, and I had read it, I would’ve gathered my courage and said something.
I am, however, ashamed to admit I made the same mistake too.
A teacher was lamenting about how most Hispanic kids are so badly behaved. It is because their parents are always working, and that they shouldn’t have kids if they don’t have time for them. Without even giving a second thought, I agreed with her. HOW RACIST AND IGNORANT I WAS! And I really thought, then, I was right, until I read this book. This entire book opened my eyes. Thank you, Oluo, for writing this book.
- The only thing that would have been great to have though, is some sort of a glossary for the terms used throughout the book, for easy referencing
“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.”
“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.”
“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.”