Ijeoma Oluo’s new book is out: So You Want to Talk About Race.
I first encountered her writing in Medium and was quite gripped by her wisdom.
So I pre-ordered her book and started it today. Every day for the rest of the month I’ll be writing about each chapter. You’ll see how I’ll highly recommend this book, if you want to talk about race. And frankly if you don’t, what is your place in this racist world? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.
The Introduction stopped me immediately, and re-affirmed for me why I’m reading this book in the first place. Its first sentence:
“As a black woman, race has always been a prominent part of my life.”
As a white man, race has never been a prominent part of my life. I’ve taken it–and its privilege–for granted for much of my life. Growing up, it only ever came up, awkwardly, during reminders like Rodney King and OJ. And even then, I didn’t have enough analytical tools to deal with the entitlement built into me, and that I represent.
This first sentence alone is a litmus test to all who read it.
- How much can we relate to this?
- How much can we understand this?
- How much can we empathize with this?
- How much can we seek to listen and understand this?
For me, the answer to each question is an increasingly larger amount.
Feminism only wins, we we bring all men along. Racial equality can only exist when white folks recognize our entitlement and dismantle it. The fact that white folks and men fear losing a job or a school placement to affirmative action makes me wonder how many times they or anyone has earned a job/placement when a more qualified woman or person of colour was rejected. If we think our race and gender have never benefited us, we need to read this book. If we know it has, we need to read this book.
No equality can succeed until oppressors and those who carry the advantage of oppression are equal with those who seek.