While white readers are going to gain insight on hard-to-understand-unless-you’ve-lived-it topics in So You Want to Talk About Race, readers of color generally will find camaraderie and a resource in Ijeoma Oluo’s conversational approach to race, racism, and racial violence in America ...the author also turns her eye toward much more complex issues like intersectionality, the school-to-prison pipeline, and cultural appropriation with wit and heart ... Oluo is intellectually sharp and even funny, and this is one of the strengths of her book ... Readers may find the direct address — the 'you' she points at frequently — uncomfortable, but it’s appropriate. Combined with the book’s overall tone, it offers an intimate experience where readers can process situations before they enter into their own conversations about race ...a fairly nuanced understand of race relations and of the traumas enacted, in particular, on black bodies through the systematic inequalities present in American society.
With this book, Ijeoma Oluo gives us — both white people and people of color — that language to engage in clear, constructive, and confident dialogue with each other about how to deal with racial prejudices and biases. And this dialogue is critical ... Each chapter is framed as a question which Oluo unpacks thoroughly and rationally. These are questions that typically come up in daily interactions, whether they are raised explicitly, implicitly, or only in our heads ... She does not shy away from raising discussion points that might make some uncomfortable. There is no ambivalence or soft-pedaling. These talks are difficult, requiring introspection, empathy, and a voluntary rewiring of our brains if we are to make any progress ... That said, this book is much-needed and timely. It is more than a primer on racism. It is a comprehensive conversation guide.
Accessible and approachable in tone, So You Want to Talk About Race is aimed squarely at those who actually do. In other words, this isn’t a book to pass quietly to your slur-spewing uncle in hopes of getting him to stop sharing odious Obama memes on Facebook, nor is it an instruction manual on how to 'not see race' ... Oluo weaves stories from her own life through her research to put faces and voices to such fraught topics... As a result, the lessons, while still intellectually rigorous, feel more intimate than those gleaned from academic texts and perhaps more likely to make a meaningful impression on the lay reader ... Throughout her book, Oluo emphasizes how difficult these conversations about race will be, but also how necessary and urgent they are for people to have in good faith ... She invites the reader to 'get a little uncomfortable,' because racial inequality and injustice are real — we can't 'wish it away.'