I first read Ijeoma Oluo's work years ago when she was blogging on her own website. Now, she has a dedicated following across social media platforms and writes freelance for a number of publications.

Before we go further, let me say that So You Want to Talk About Race is excellent. Absolutely excellent in its own right. It is also a great starting point for people who have not yet confronted their privilege, their whiteness, or done antiracist work.

Oluo connects the conversations around your kitchen table to the policies and practices that perpetuate systemic racism. She does so in conversational and accessible language that invites the reader into discussion.

She gives specific examples of what to do and how to respond when you hear a racist statement at the water cooler. Oluo gives practical and cogent advice for how to call out these statements and when to walk away. She is very aware of her audience and knows that talking about racism is uncomfortable.

Oluo writes: "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 colour, it should be something that upsets us. But it upsets us because it exists, not because we talk about it. And if you are white and you don't want to feel any of that pain by having these conversations, then you are asking people of colour to bear the entire burden of racism alone."

She also reminds readers that: "Systemic racism is a machine that runs whether we pull the levers or not, and just by letting it be, we are responsible for what it produces. We have to actually dismantle the machine if we want to make change. So, a good question to ask yourself right now is: why are you here? Did you pick up this book with the ultimate goal of getting people to be nicer to each other? Did you pick up this book with the goal of making more friends of different races? Or did you pick up this book with the goal of helping fight a system of oppression that is literally killing people of colour. Because if you insist on holding to a definition of racism that reduces itself to "anytime somebody is mean to somebody of a different race," then this is not the book to accomplish your goals. And those are real and noble goals when we call them what they are. We really should be more kind to each other. But when I look at what is putting me and millions of other people of colour at risk, a lack of niceness from white people towards me and people who look like me is very fall down the list of priorities. However, if you came with the second intention, to fight the systemic oppression that is harming the lives of millions of people of colour, then you are who I have written this book for."

I highly, highly recommend this book. If you can, listen to the audio book because it is performed by my favourite narrator Bahni Turpin!

STPL_JessH's rating:
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