“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," Oluo writes in her bestselling book. Filled with incredible wisdom, actionable advice, and invaluable insight into today's racial landscape, So You Want to Talk About Race? does exactly that: it gives readers the missing pieces so they can start to have empathetic, fact-based conversations about some of the most important racial issues facing Americans today.
White people, I cannot urge you enough: go read this book. Or better yet, do what I did, and get the audiobook. Narrated by Bahni Turpin,listening to So You Want to Talk About Race?feels like having private tutoring lesson on everything you've always wanted to know, and a lot of things you might not have even thought to ask about, including white privilege, microaggressions, police brutality, and other forms of systematic discrimination.
The best part? You can't talk back, you can't argue, you can't disagree. You can only listen, and I promise if you do, you will learn so much. It will be uncomfortable, it will be awkward, it will be incredibly hard at times, but in 2018, there are few things more important than learning about how America's racial divide was constructed, and how we can begin to tear it down.
Just in case you aren't convinced, here are 11 powerful quotes from So You Want to Talk About Race? that will inspire you to go out and but the book ASAP.
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Conversations on racism should never be about winning.”
“Tone policing is when someone (usually the privileged person) in a conversation or situation about oppression shifts the focus of the conversation from the oppression being discussed to the way it is being discussed. Tone policing prioritizes the comfort of the privileged person in the situation over the oppression of the disadvantaged person. This is something that can happen in a conversation, but can also apply to critiques of entire civil rights organizations and movements.”
“For nonwhites, racial microaggressions find a way into every part of every day. Microaggressions are constant reminders that you don’t belong, that you are less than, that you are not worthy of the same respect that white people are afforded. They keep you off balance, keep you distracted, and keep you defensive. They keep you from enjoying an outing on the town or a day at the office.”