Let me say at the outset: this book is for everyone — white or black or any color in between. If you are white, it will make you see nuances of racism that you were probably not aware of, including within yourself, your loved ones, and coworkers. If you are a person of color, it will give you ways to respond calmly, rationally, and intelligently, even when dealing with the well-meaning “I’m not racist” white friend or coworker.
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. And, since the last US election, they have also been popping up all across social media, over dinner-tables, and even in workplaces. Some of the questions seek to define loaded words/phrases and their implications: racism, intersectionality, police brutality, privilege, affirmative action, cultural appropriation, microaggressions, and so on. Some of them address the constant arguments you might come across on social media, like “why can’t I say the “N” word?” and “I just got called racist, what do I do?”
Here’s an excerpt from the book at Lit Hub — The Conversation I’ve Been Dreading: Ijeoma Oluo Talks About Race With Her Mom
Interestingly, there is a lot in this book that made me consider how we talk about casteism and religion in India as well. Consider how politically-charged discussions tend to refer to entire minority groups:
Dalits (Lower-caste): Thugs and criminals
Savarna (Upper-caste) Hindus: People fighting for their rights
We need a book like Oluo’s to reframe our language and dialogue in India as well.