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I'm Still Here

Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Narrated by: Austin Channing Brown
Length: 3 hrs and 54 mins
5 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller

Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick.

From a leading voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up black, Christian, and female that exposes how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals. 

“Austin Channing Brown introduces herself as a master memoirist. This book will break open hearts and minds.” (Glennon Doyle, number one New York Times best-selling author of Untamed)

Austin Channing Brown's first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools and churches, Austin writes, "I had to learn what it means to love blackness," a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America's racial divide as a writer, speaker, and expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion.

In a time when nearly every institution (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claims to value diversity in its mission statement, Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice. Her stories bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric - from black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations. For listeners who have engaged with America's legacy on race through the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Eric Dyson, I'm Still Here is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the listener to confront apathy, recognize God's ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness - if we let it - can save us all.

©2018 Austin Channing Brown (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Powerful...Brown calls on readers to live their professed ideals rather than simply state them.” (Publishers Weekly)

"What a stunning debut from a seasoned racial justice leader. Austin does double duty by fiercely affirming blackness while simultaneously unveiling and demystifying the subtle effects of white supremacy among Christians. I trust Austin, I listen to Austin and I learn from Austin. I hope you will too." (Christena Cleveland, professor at Duke University and author of Disunity in Christ)

"The movement toward diversity and forgiveness, [Brown] points out, too often involves white people seeking credit for recognizing the crimes of the past even as they do nothing to fix things today, and black people being required to provide endless absolution and information while calmly enduring dignity-eroding and rage-inducing injustices." (Library Journal)

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Eloquent and Eye opening

A must listen for anyone interested in examining their own and learning about race and privilege.

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A must read, very sobering

This book was incredibly confronting for me and was exactly what I needed. This book opened my mind my eyes my heart, it would be impossible to not look back and do nothing now. I highly recommend this book.

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Loved this!

Wonderfully written, beautifully read by Austin. A compelling book. Thank you for sharing your story and your experience, Austin.

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  • Adam Shields
  • 16-05-2018

A Black woman in a middle class White America

A little over a week ago I sat down with a list of the books I had read since the start of 2017 and analyzed the authors. I looked at how many were White, how many were women, how many were fiction versus non-fiction. What I discovered when I completed this quick exercise was that I read just over 60% non-fiction. Although the authors of the fiction I read was was roughly evenly split between men and women authors, my non-fiction was five times more likely to be male authors as female. And my non-fiction was three times more likely to be White than non-White authors. Because of my bias toward non-fiction, I read mostly White males.

This exercise was not about meeting a quota, but about exploring what as a reader I am consuming. How much do I, when not paying attention, default to reading the voices of White males (a lot). What do I need to do to make sure I am not internalizing the bias of my reading choices? With that information, I know that I need to make sure I am intentionally picking up more books written by minorities, especially women.

I picked up I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness yesterday, when it came out, in part because of my exercise not hearing minority, especially female minority authors. I’m Still Here is brief, just over 3 hours in audiobook. It is mostly memoir. Austin Channing Brown opens with a story about how her name (one that is associated mostly with White Males) was chosen intentionally to get her in the door for interviews. She grew up in mostly White neighborhoods and going to mostly White schools. It wasn’t until college that she had her first Black teacher. But the saturation in White culture did not change her skin color or how she was perceived by those that were going to judge her because of her gender or skin.

It appears to me that I’m Still Here is written primarily for Black women, but with the intention to be overheard by others. She celebrates her blackness because that is how God created her. And she celebrates the comfort of the Black church in the reality of the difficulties of the world. It tells about the emotional baggage that has been heaped upon her as a professional woman working mostly in Christian non-profits to do the work of making Whites feel good about how much progress has been made in racial issues or to spoon feed them history about racism in the US.

Part of her work has been directly around diversity and racial awareness. So she has both informal and formal background in what it means to be a Black Woman in a White Christian world. She has led diversity trainings and facilitated White youth groups coming into urban neighborhoods for awareness building. She has been asked to understand plenty without most Whites being willing to understand even a portion.

I am very glad that the end of the book spoke directly about racial reconciliation. She diagnoses the problem well,

“...reconciliation is not about white feelings. It’s about diverting power and attention to the oppressed, toward the powerless. It’s not enough to dabble at diversity and inclusion while leaving the existing authority structure in place. Reconciliation demands more."

When I criticized John Perkins’ recent book One Blood, it wasn’t that I didn’t agree with his basic point, that we as Christians are in fact one blood and that racial reconciliation is very important. I disagreed with the tone and focus of the book because it was not hard enough on Whites. And Perkins seem to place, if not equal, at least significant, responsibility on minority Christians for their part in making racial reconciliation work within the church. Austin Channing Brown is not playing around with that type of equivocation. Racism is the result of White’s prejudice and power, and while many minorities want to work to end racism, the reality is that they have mostly been doing the work unassisted. Racism is ultimately a White problem as James Baldwin has said. But one where the largest payment for the problem is borne by those that are not White.

I’m Still Here is one of the best examples of why, even though I think that White authors need to step up and talk about race and prejudice and racism and history, we cannot stop listening to people of color, especially women, as they tell us their reality.

(I also appreciate that the publisher let her read her own book. Books should be, whenever possible, narrated by their own author.)

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  • Sarah Joslyn
  • 22-05-2018

A must read for “good” white people

This book will break your heart if you haven’t been broken by racial injustice already and it will break it again if you have. This is essential reading for all of us well-meaning “good” white people.

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  • Laura
  • 26-03-2020

Author Does Not Appreciate White Allies

I started out as a big fan of the author as someone who is active in my community working toward racial justice, because the work is extremely important.
Unfortunately, there is a type of hypocrisy brewing here in which there is a lack of concern for both the well-being and suffering of BOTH groups. This can be discouraging for those of us who are white and trying to do the work of social justice.
The author makes light of any social or professional repercussions that white people may face for going against the status quo. She implies that we have nothing to risk except maybe just a few hurt feelings.
I personally have lost relationships with family members and friends (very nearly my own mother) because I tried to respectfully advocate for people of color and other marginalized groups. I have numerous friends who have also been isolated from their own families for taking such a stand. Losing a family member over these issues is a deeply painful experience, and it is not one that people of color often have to risk, as these families are generally more united in these issues. There is no acknowledgment or thankfulness for these types of sacrifices, and there is even trivialization of pain that white people may experience, which is dehumanizing toward white people.
If this author truly desires to build racial unity, she will show appreciation and respect for the real risk that white people take in advocating and going against the current power systems. At times, our risk is the greatest because we are the ones whose families and friends expect us to tow the line.
So, sadly, as much as I would like to recommend this author, I have to say that I think her flippant and condescending attitude toward white people could ultimately cause harm to the worthy cause of racial justice by bringing discouragement to those white people who are actually trying. Very disappointing.
This type of disregard for the “other” (in this case whites who seek to help) reminds me a bit of the attitude of white supremacists, who seek to elevate their own group, while ignoring the feelings of those who are different than them. Does this mean that whites have suffered anything comparable to people of color? Of course not. But suffering is suffering, and white advocates’ suffering is experienced willing for the greater good, then downplayed by this author. For true racial justice to occur, there needs to be respect and sensitivity that is mutual. Neither side can trivialize the other’s pain, or a whole new form of racism will be born.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Bridget Blinn-Spears
  • 19-05-2018

Read this. Or listen to it.

My white ears will need to consider this book - which is not for me but has so much to teach me - over and over again.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-05-2018

Read this book!!

I really enjoyed this book. It’s honest, brave, direct, captivating. It was a gift to hear the novel read by the author as well. Please read this book!!!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Candace M. Lewis
  • 26-05-2018

Thank you for writing this honest book!!!

I appreciate Austin sharing her story, experience and journey of “wokeness” and dignity as a young Black woman in Christian spaces!!! Her clarity and candor are refreshing!!! At the end of the book I’m inspired to resist absorbing and excusing the actions of the white people I encounter daily instead I can “call out” and name their inappropriate and offense behaviors and ask them to do something different. I appreciated your perspective on “white confession” and how not to be smeared by it but leaving it w them and God to decide what they can do differently.

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  • Diane G
  • 17-06-2020

Disappointing

I heard Ms Brown on Brené Browns podcast and immediately bought her audiobook. I was excited to listen to what she had to say.

I loved the first third of the book with her stories of growing up black surrounded by white in a predominantly white school. I loved the remembrances of keeping her family’s faith, values
and customs alive.

My main objection, a huge one, is her seeming to lump all “white people” together. If I’m not mistaken Ms Brown goes so far as to say white people are not welcome or wanted in the black church. How is this attitude not perpetuating racism? How is this not discrimination in its own right?

Growing up white in VA is the 70s I was bused about 20 miles to a “black” school for integration. Our churches and neighborhoods were not integrated. I think I would be open and accepting to black friends if I had the opportunity to meet them.

I would have liked the author to try and give “white people” an idea of what it is we CAN do to help going forward. My favorite part of the book was her letter to her son. I do appreciate how difficult raising black sons must be although I do come from a place of white privilege. I just still don’t know what I can concretely do to help!

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  • Greg Fostee
  • 24-05-2018

Amazing

I loved every bit of this book. Very profound and extremely brutally honest in a very caring way with a purpose of shedding light on very relevant issues. I understand where the author is coming from as far as being alienated for being different or just flat out being yourself that with being amongst your own as well as other ethnicities. So proud to say I have known Mrs. Austin Channing Brown. One thing I must say is that I am extremely jealous to say I never took one of Dr. Sims courses.

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  • Fred B.
  • 23-05-2018

Exceeded Expectations

SO. DAMN. GOOD! Every single chapter was necessary and resonated. It was therapuetic to read.

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  • Kami
  • 22-05-2018

Outstanding Book !

Everything about this book was great! I look forward to more from this author !

3 people found this helpful

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  • L.A.D Taylor
  • 09-07-2020

Must read

Thank you for this essential beautiful book. Standing alongside you in the shadow of hope.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-07-2020

A must read

An extremely well written and thought provoking book which every white person needs to read.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-06-2020

Great Listen

I feel gently taken by the hand and shown how the world honestly is for Austin. Her observations and points are clear and backed up. Going to be running through my mind long after I have finished listening to it.

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  • Suzie
  • 06-06-2020

Insightful, thought provoking, brutally honest

I couldn't put it down, it challenges the reader to be honest about themselves without compromise