Have you ever read a book and felt that it was actually a call to action? I have been fortunate enough to be able to take refuge in art while social distancing. I’ve read a variety of different books written by authors ranging from Ta-Nehisi Coates to Bram Stoker. One book that stood out to me was Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race. Oluo tells of her personal experiences as not only a Black woman, but also a queer woman, single mother, middle class, biracial feminist. I found this intersectional approach to be a metaphoric glass of ionized water. It’s the refreshing kick in the ass that society needs in order to come to terms with progress.
By adopting a multilayered intersectional lens, Oluo allows the reader to fully explore numerous alternate perspectives beyond their own. Oluo asserts that societal norms and social constructs including, but not limited to, patriarchy, misogyny, and heteronormativity dictate the world around us. In reading the book, I felt that the author had a true understanding that these topics are uncomfortable which provides an authentic vulnerability rather than a purely academic narrative.
Oluo provides a conversational manual for all backgrounds. She also owns her personal privileges throughout the book. Her work challenges skeptics to not only hear, but also feel her point of view. After reading So You Want to Talk About Race my eyes were opened even wider. We all need the dosage of reality that Oluo offers being a queer female of color.
So You Want to Talk About Race is the perfect read and cultural model for a 21st century audience. This book illuminates the aspects of patriarchy running rampant throughout various institutions. I highly recommend to it anyone looking to do more for inclusion.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Seal Press, January 2018.
Reviewer bio: C.L. Butler is an African American poet, historian, and entrepreneur from Philadelphia based in Houston, TX. In 2017 his poem ‘Laissez Faire’ was published by the University of Houston-Downtown Bayou Review. In 2019 he published academic research with the Journal of International Relations & Diplomacy.
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