Picking the best book is like picking a favorite child for me. And so I usually post a giant list of books I loved each quarter. And I loved a lot of books. But this book about racism is so important and compelling that I’m letting it stand alone on my list of best books. I apologize to all the other wonderful books I read (you can read book reviews of those by clicking on the Book Talk Tuesdays icon on my home page).
By Ijeoma Oluo, Seal Press, 2019, 272 pages.
Who Shouldn’t Read This Book
It’s not often I wish I could memorize a book. But this is one of those times. I listened to the book for free on my Audible account, but now I’m buying a copy so I can read, underline, quote, and re-read. It’s that important.
But first, I should start with who this book is NOT for. Don’t read this book if you’re comfortable with your Kareness. There’s no point. The book will make you angry, elevate your blood pressure, and you’ll probably ask for your money back. If you’re the kind of person who counters everything I post about a racist problem on my Facebook feed with words like, “All lives matter,” or “systemic racism is a figment of ANTIFA’s and BLM’s imagination,” or “C’mon, you sound like you’ve been brainwashed by the far left,” don’t buy this book.
But, maybe the turmoil of the summer has shocked and surprised you. Perhaps Breonna Taylor’s tragic death saddens you. Maybe you kind of get the point that if a police officer can receive an indictment for shooting a wanton bullet into an apartment next door to the scene of Breonna’s murder, but no one gets indicted for any of the bullets shot wantonly into Breonna’s apartment, maybe you could handle this book. Maybe.
As a middle-class white woman who cares about social justice, this book answered so many questions I’ve had, but haven’t wanted to burden my few Black friends and acquaintances with. I grew up thinking I didn’t have a speck of racism in me. Now, I know I do. But I can change. Reading this book is a good place to start.
Racism, Sexism, Regionalism, and All Those Other Isms
The hardest part about any ‘ism’ is that those who practice it don’t want to hear the opinion of those who receive it. The #metoo movement proves that. From our country’s top leaders to the barista who calls every woman ‘my dear,’ the men who treat women in a patronizing way don’t generally want to know how their words make women feel. I understand. Who likes getting called out, anyway?The hardest part about any 'ism' is that those who practice it don't want to hear the opinion of those who receive it. . #racism #sexism #abelism #antiracist #ally Click To Tweet
But if we want to put a stop to all the ‘isms’ in our country, we need to start listening. Think of this book as a ‘So You Want to Listen about Race?’ Because, really, that’s what we need to do.
We need to listen. And when we want to protest and say, “But I don’t…” or “I don’t have white privilege,” we need to slap our hands over our mouths and just. listen.
Ms. Oluo’s direct, no-nonsense style of writing helps the reader understand precisely how a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color) feels when clueless whites use hurtful microaggressions, slurs, or arguments. My job? To listen. And then to use my newfound awareness to change my behavior.
The contents of this book might raise your blood pressure, or make you cry (both of these things happened to me). But until we commit to doing the hard work to repair relationships, one person at a time, our country will continue to blindly gallop towards opposite poles.
The book concludes with action steps for people who want to act as allies instead of enemies. The book also provides a discussion guide at the end. As stated earlier, I listened to the Audible version (the narration was excellent).
The Best Book for Readers Ready to Listen
I highly advise thoughtful readers to pull on their big-girl panties and listen to So You Want to Talk About Race or read it (or both). Until we can listen with compassion to others who suffer from ‘isms’, we don’t have much hope that others will listen to us when we want to talk about the ‘isms’ that make our lives difficult (or horrible).Until we can listen with compassion to others who suffer from 'isms', we don't have much hope that others will listen to us when we want to talk about the 'isms' that affect our lives. #racism #sexism #abelism #antiracist #ally Click To Tweet
Have read any books about racism that really impacted you this year?