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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.

Critic Reviews

"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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For Champions of Equality & Justice

As a WOC I found myself chuckling at times with the bittersweet familiarity, of Ijeoma’s experiences of talking about race with white people. I found the book to be a balm on the 1000 paper cuts of microagressions I experience daily. I also felt seen when she acknowledged her own unconscious bias towards Asian people’s experience of racism and our struggle with the model minority myth. Though this book is specifically for Americans, as a POC from Australia, I could still relate to the content, and see correlations between my country’s oppressive colonial systems and that of the US’.

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A necessary read

At times the author appeared angry and harsh, at others what she was saying was hard to read. There were moments where the text seemed to imply that all white people are responsible for racism, it’s our job to figure out how to fix it without asking people of colour for advice (it’s not their job to educate us) and where we share Ijeoma’s perspective it’s lip service and not genuine. This felt overwhelming and I can see why so many stop listening at this point.

The more I listened the more I realised why people of colour feel the way they do and the systemic racism I’m not exposed to. I realised the ways I have unconsciously done and said the wrong thing. There are times when we need someone to point out we’ve done the wrong thing in order to change. This book does that in spades.

This is not an easy read but it is a necessary read for all of us. There are lessons galore if you’re willing to listen and learn. I would love to see this as a dialogue starter in school.

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10/10 recommend

Puts racism in such simple and relatable terms. I will be recommending to friends and family

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  • V. Taras
  • 06-10-2018

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.

91 people found this helpful

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  • alibamba
  • 29-01-2019

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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-03-2020

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
  • 29-04-2020

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.

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  • UURev
  • 19-12-2019

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
  • 20-09-2020

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.

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  • AmazonCustomer
  • 05-02-2018

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.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-11-2018

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...

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  • Maggie
  • 13-04-2018

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
  • 24-03-2019

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

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-03-2020

An incredible eye-opener

This book made me cry so many times. I'm an Eastern European, and for such a long time I didn't understand what the debate about race was all about. I was angry that white people were being all lumped together, but I didn't know much about these issues, so I decided to try listening first. It pays off. I really had no idea. I'd say please, please, if you want to talk about racial issues, read this first. This book is not going to change the opinions of people who don't want to listen, and maybe a lot of this is nothing new to people who have long been taking racial equality seriously, but if you are a "beginner" like me (and I would quietly add, that many of us likely know a lot less about this than we think we know), this book is a must read.

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  • George
  • 29-10-2018

Thank You.

All I can say is an overwhelming thank you to Ijeoma for writing this book. Where my words have failed me this book has given me a voice, a voice so precise and clear that tears run down my eyes as I realise that I AM NOT ALONE and someone else shares parts of my reality as BLACK.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Kris H.
  • 15-10-2018

Informative, moving, strategic, and quotable

Oluo's points are masterfully made, with compelling logic and empathetic awareness of the reader throughout. She's certainly opened my eyes and I have a feeling I'll be returning to grab quotes. I listened to the reader at 1.00 and 1.10 speed and both sound great.

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  • Maddie
  • 26-09-2018

A MUST READ/LISTEN

Everyone, especially every white person should read/listen this book!
Everyone who wants to learn and be an ally to people of colour issues should have this book!
Everyone that works with minorities, every school, every public institution employee should read this book!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Arnold Seivwright
  • 08-06-2020

growth can start here

if like me you've spent most of your life not quite thinking about race and definitely unsure of where to start, well heres a book for you, I'm still processing the complex of issue, but knowing that, processing and talking, thinking reflecting and action are all tools to defeat systemic racism, well, this book gives you more than a few ideas and directions on how to go about doing those things, although I dont live in america I think the ideas Ijeoma outlines could and should be applied anywhere, I hope to endeavour forward with these new tools and learn some more.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-06-2020

Everyone needs to read this book

Well written, excellent explanations and beautifully read. This book is such a useful resource that must have been very difficult to write and we should all be grateful and take advantage of such a resource that will change your outlook on everything.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Addy
  • 20-05-2018

Outstanding Genius! Articulates so much of what I have always been unable to say

This book is important and it is important that you get to the end . If only I had her way with words, I might be able to say how brilliant and inspiring this is. The type of book i want to cuddle up to at that so I can wake with hope.

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  • Ms J Smith
  • 09-10-2020

Changing attitudes

Ijeoma Oluo talks about her own life experiences to explain the difficulties people of colour face in the USA today, and the part white supremacy plays. For me this is another step towards understanding how attitudes to racial differences need to change and how I as a white person can contribute to that change.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kathleen Cunningham
  • 04-10-2020

A must read

So accessible and informative. Ready to test preconceptions and provoke thought and promote action. Delivered flawlessly. now to digest and assess how to challenge the day to day systemic racism.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Hannah Farrant
  • 18-06-2020

Powerful and Important

You should read this book. Especially if it makes you uncomfortable. It is too important not to read.

1 person found this helpful

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