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  • So You Want to Talk About Race

  • Written by: Ijeoma Oluo
  • Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (489 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A current, constructive, and actionable exploration of today's racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that listeners of all races need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide 

In So You Want to Talk About Race, editor-at-large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions listeners don't dare ask and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans. 

Oluo is an exceptional writer with a rare ability to be straightforward, funny, and effective in her coverage of sensitive, hyper-charged issues in America. Her messages are passionate but finely tuned and crystallize ideas that would otherwise be vague by empowering them with aha-moment clarity. Her writing brings to mind voices like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay, Jessica Valenti in Full Frontal Feminism, and a young Gloria Naylor, particularly in Naylor's seminal essay "The Meaning of a Word". A Harper's Bazaar pick of One of 10 Books to Read in 2018. 

©2018 Ijeoma Oluo (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

"Narrator Bahni Turpin's impassioned voice clearly conveys the gravity of this book on race and racism.... Key points are repeated to help listeners absorb ideas and definitions, and Turpin engagingly reads real-life examples Oluo uses to illustrate complex concepts such as intersectionality and white privilege." (AudioFile)  

What listeners say about So You Want to Talk About Race

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting listen

Now I understand where all these words and ideas circulating have come from. So much good information. I really appreciated her personal stories. It makes a lot of sense why she is so angry and has adopted this framework for seeing the world. The critical theory she invokes to create this universe of self perpetuating white supremacy and oppression, for me simplifies people to an unconscionable degree. So many essentialist notions of skin pigment as original sin or evidence of victimhood. The psychological state created by believing everything in this book seems very unhealthy. She states at the beginning of the book as one of her key points is that "if you believe it is racism then it is" This goes against every principle of modern psychotherapy. Thoughts should be interrogated and weighed against evidence to judge their validity and utility. It struck me as an almost religious text with very little room for interpretation. Her views are all encompassing and uses a kind of circular reasoning which always leads back to the infallible pronouncement of the white supremacist ether that spawned the west. Glad I listened to it but what a terrible way to perceive your fellow human beings. Skin colour rules the day. Sad. She does give a little wink to her audience near the end where she says maybe she is wrong and if so we will figure it out when the time comes but for now to move the bar we need to take this stance. This is what activists do to get things done Ive been told. Still a terrible resentful bitter way to see the world.

5 people found this helpful

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Important Read!

This book is very informative and everything is said possibly and direct with due urgency.

it's a must read!

5 people found this helpful

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  • JR
  • 2018-05-23

A must listen

This book gives every reader a perspective they can connect to and learn from: a story, facts and data, tips and calls to action.

I loved it and learned from it and hope there is a second volume.

Reader was great!

4 people found this helpful

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disappointing, unbearable, empty, annoying

why did I waste my time with this?

narration was fine.

everything else is a regurgitation of leftist talking points that are freely available all over the news and the internet.

Oluo brings nothing new to the table apart from an organized, cohesive structure of complaints and rules for white people to follow

why did I expect anything different? I guess I was hoping for some new insights into leftist ideology. I wanted to see if it went any deeper than what we're all bombarded with every day.

what business does this person have writing a book? they should just work as a data entry clerk or a social worker and try her best to be happy with that. none of this entitled goofball prattling and statistics she googled on the spot

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent book, great narrator.

Ijeoma Oluo firmly, honestly, but respectfully, provides helpful advice and facts for the white reader who is trying to do better (like me). The narrator is excellent

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Should be mandatory reading.

The world needs this book and honestly it should be hailed as a classic. This book humbled me and empowered me all at once.

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Audio Review: Good but be mindful of......

Gives good information from the author's lived experiences. I don't agree with all her points but she always gives her rationales. There are some F bombs and the n-word is explicitly said instead of referred to as the n-word. Mind you, the n-word is used from the lived experiences from the author etc.. You just have to be mindful if young children are around.

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Thoroughly enjoyed it!

I looked for a book that would give me the raw feelings from someone who has experienced discrimination.

The author has very eloquently put her thoughts in a very respectable manner. One that tells it like it is, counters the myths (such as minority asian advantage), and shares truthful facts.

It has opened my eyes on how I can be a better human being. In addition, the hurt I caused others when I was an elementary school kid.

I will be relistening to the book again next month because the concepts are very very very good, and actionable. I'll also be jotting things down as audio version tends to go faster than reading hardcopy.

Highly recommended!!!!

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A good intro!

I would've preferred this to have been read by Ijeoma because of her warm voice, but otherwise it was a great listen with great points about how to talk about race.

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An important read!

An Eye-opening perspective, a much needed and unapologetic book! Thank you for writing that book.

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  • alibamba
  • 2019-01-29

A Reminder to Read Books that Make You Uncomfortable

Yes, conversations about race are awkward to hard and even hurtful and I’m not thrilled to be categorized as a white supremacist simply because I am white but even with all that discomfort, confusion, eyebrow raises, and slack jawed moments I experienced while listening I have to say my world feels bigger after reading this. My perspective is changed. I didn’t understand or even recognize my own racism or white privilege. I have not had to confront racism and I have not seen the part in it that I have played or know what action I could take to change. I am asking questions of myself and assumptions I’ve made about a range of other issues because if I didn’t see this, what else am I not seeing? I feel very blessed to have come across Oluo’s book and will continue to follow her work. I also feel compelled to share that the narration is top notch.

137 people found this helpful

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  • V. Taras
  • 2018-10-06

An Important Must-Read, but Worse than Expected

I have mixed feelings about the book.
On the one hand, I believe it is a must-read for anyone in the U.S., and a highly recommended read for anyone outside the U.S.
At the very least, it will give you a good perspective into the racial tensions in the U.S. and a good understanding of how it is seen by the activists of the African American community. Many eye-opening examples and explanations.
On the other hand, the book is not particularly engaging. Justifiably, it is filled with rants and complaints. However, I felt the case could have been made more strongly with more statistics and references to more studies. The book felt like a rally speech, and less like a piece of scholarly work.
Still, highly recommend. It was a good use of my time.

101 people found this helpful

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  • L. Keepers
  • 2020-08-15

Microagression To Whites

I read this book with my black friends at a book club hoping to be part of the solution and learn about my own hidden biases. For every good point there were several "microagression" against ME. Even my POC friends were embarrassed that I had to be insulted in front of them. And they were insulted that she assumes all black people have the same political views. They didnt.
We have agreed to put into practice those few good suggestions in the book and forget the rest of it.
My black friends apologized to ME instead of the other way aroumd.

83 people found this helpful

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  • AmazonCustomer
  • 2018-02-05

Excellent book, excellently narrated.

Ijeoma Oluo has a gift for delivering hard medicine with humor and sensitivity. If you are a white person who wants to do better, this is a perfect primer on how (and when) to have conversations about race without doing more harm than good.

And Bahni Turpin is an impeccable narrator. She reads with a clarity and conviction that makes the content feel completely fresh, like a conversation, rather than a reading. A perfect fit with Ijeoma Oluo's writing style, too.

58 people found this helpful

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  • John Abdul-Masih
  • 2018-12-20

"So you want to make race discussions worse"

This books heart is in the right place, in that the author does want to make race relations better. And they even encourage listening, and understanding that people can have the same goal while differing in execution towards that goal. The life of the author given continuously throughout the book shows that they have a history with this topic.

However, this book encourages a very absolutist view on race. Where if you are a certain color, you are responsible for the actions of all people of that color. I don't see how this is productive, indeed I feel that it would only make relations worse between people of different colors. Not what I expected from a book I expected to be progressive.

Also, the book almost seems to discourage understanding and encourage escalation. Intention is given a back seat, and making mountains out of mole hills encouraged because, paraphrasing the book, "mountains are made of many small molehills". This flattening of severity is great for a feeling of moral superiority, but has obvious consequences for anyone who's heard the story of the boy who cried wolf.

If you want to discuss race in a more inclusive, civil manner, this is not the book to help you. This book seems to be a better guide to fanning flames. Which is disappointing because right now we actually need instructions on how to discuss things better.

Aside from the content of the book, the audio performance was solid. The narrator gave emphasis where needed, and performed multiple voices with ease. Also there were no noticable cuts that stood out to me, making it seem like one clean continuous reading. While the content itself often tripped me up, the narrator made listening a breeze.

57 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-03-03

Entertaining and wise.

I was hesitant to this book because I am a biracial black woman in America and I wasn't sure this book was written for me or that I would have much to gain from it. Being mixed race often leaves you in the world of the 'other'. Often books on race are written to educate white people or vindicate poc. But this does that, but it expands into so much more than that. Everyone can be educated and maybe even find vindication in this guide to constructive conversation.

It was also nice that it felt as if Bahni Turpin really identified with and embodied the work. Thanks for the great read.

55 people found this helpful

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  • Susanna Heath
  • 2020-04-29

Critical and a must read

At the risk of being just another white woman talking about how a book on race makes her feel...this book made me feel a lot. I consider myself a feminist and over the last year have learned much about intersectionality, and how I cannot fight for the rights of women without also including other marginalized people. But I do not have many people of color in my life. My social media feed is made up of mostly white liberal women. I didn’t feel comfortable talking about race, suspecting I was probably a little racist myself. I found this book on a list of must-read books on race. The chapter headings immediately hooked me. These were the questions I wanted to ask, and didn’t know how.

Ijeoma presents the information calmly and with some humor but also with the underlying steel and passion that evokes a real emotional response to many tragic topics. She answers questions and brings up additional information I had never previously considered. I believe everyone should read this book and begin to take action in their communities.

53 people found this helpful

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  • UURev
  • 2019-12-19

Must read for white folks

I have done a lot of work on my privilege and racial bias (and I still have a LONG way to go) and books like this are so helpful, great reminders and calls to action, I will be rereading it again soon and asking all of my church staff to read it as well!

45 people found this helpful

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  • Meatball
  • 2020-09-11

More of the same

Typical race baiting garbage expected of the left. The author of this book is one of those “politically correct racists” because they attack white people, while unsurprisingly negating any self-responsibility of any other party.

Save yourself a brainwashing. The goal of this book is to encourage you to grovel at the feet of people who hate you. Want to do something more productive with your time? Look at objective data and statistics, because all of the answers are there. Start with things dealing with abortion rates, out-of-wedlock birth rates, crime and IQ.

Or, you know, just watch an episode of Cops. Or go outside in a city.

40 people found this helpful

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  • Katoli
  • 2020-09-20

Way to Preachy

This is exactly the kind of point of view that will complete loose people who have good intentions and want to learn.
Waaaaaay to preach. Couldn't finish it.

34 people found this helpful