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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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Important Read!

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

it's a must read!

4 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!

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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Blew my socks off

I’m left feeling more educated, empowered and confident as to how to support social justice, inclusivity and diversity, and inspired to learn more and challenge my self to improve.
Thank you Ljeoma for making this book so educational, helpful and easy to absorb. Bahni’s voice was great for this! The energy of her voice really went into the scenarios and I kept thinking it was Ljeoma her self talking because Bahni sounded so authentic in this book, great job Bahni, thank you

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EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK

This book is exactly what I needed in this moment. It’s such a clear and concise explanation of so many issues and questions surrounding racism and white supremacy. Not just for white people, not just for Black people/POC. Absolutely everyone can learn from this book. And as a bonus, the narrator’s performance was perfect.

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A must read

Ijeoma Oluo’s passionate book should be a mandatory read in anti racism work. I will be recommending it to anyone who will listen!

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loved it

it's a great book for any white person trying to understand the reality of a black person in America

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Outstanding

Outstanding. I do not want to look better, I want to be a better person. Thank you for sharing your truth ❤

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Everyone should read!

Well written, well read! Everyone should read this and use it as a tool for tough conversations about race. No matter how progressive you feel you are, there is always more to learn and ways to actively be better. If you genuinely want to be and do better for others, this is a good place to start.

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Educational and entertaining

I learned a lot and I highly recommend.
Told in an entertaining way, it helped give perspective and actual action items that are beneficial in the everyday world.
Everyone should read this...especially if you are white and need help understanding the issues people of colour are facing.

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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.

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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.

120 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.

50 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.

42 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!

37 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.

26 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.

53 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-11-24

best audio book yet

First the topic and writing is amazing. Whether or not you're interested in issues of race, the author describes in precise detail the workings of our white supremacy system in all our lives. Yes, there are a lot of specific pointers about having conversations around race whether you're white or of color. For me it was far more important in its description of workings of the system that I can't see from my position. most of all, she handles these loaded issues with a great deal of compassion and humor along with straight talk. The narrator is the best I've heard, as well. I've already given 2 copies if the book away...

16 people found this helpful

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  • Maggie
  • 2018-04-13

I'm really glad I took a chance on this book

If you could sum up So You Want to Talk About Race in three words, what would they be?

This book was insightful, challenging, and thoughtful.

Any additional comments?

I had never heard of the author before but I am so glad that I read this book because I do want to talk about race. It's a conversation that needs to keep going. In some places it's a conversation that hasn't even started.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Greg Lindsay
  • 2019-03-24

Some insights here but it went overboard

The first few chapters were pretty good and I found myself re-evaluating some of my beliefs about what sort of things should be considered racist. However, right around the chapter where it discusses cultural appropriation and abuse that people of color have suffered at the hands of the music industry, the author takes an angry arc that continues for the rest of the book.

At one point she justifies any kind of behavior by people of color when talking about race as long as it doesn't physically harm someone. If you are white, then you can be accused of "tone-policing" if you ask the discussion to be civil, and tone-policing is of course racist. I understand the point here that something needs to be done and serious problems don't get solved by treating them as trivial discussions to be forgotten by the next day. However, yelling at someone is going to hurt more than help, even if it gets you noticed. I disagreed with the author here quite strongly, and even the fact that she held this opinion made me doubt some of the other things she said. Still, I did my best to put a mental bookmark here and not judge the rest of the book.

The story about the first time she heard the n-word was something that broke my heart. Children can be so mean. However, the stories about police stopping her for minor infractions were not quite as compelling. I think the author blames some things on race that can happen to anyone. For example, I've experienced much worse myself including speeding tickets when I wasn't speeding at all, and searches for drugs when I didn't have any. I've also been beaten by kids in high school for nothing more than being a new kid in school. However, I do recognize that I've never felt that my life was in danger from the police and I think that's something people of color can feel, and have the right to feel.

All in all, the author taught me some things, so I'm glad I read the book. I just wish that she had approached some of the subjects with more of an open mind rather than with a virtual chip on her shoulder, regardless of whether or not she deserves to have that chip.

21 people found this helpful