It's hard to write a review of a book that you wish never had to be written.
(And right off the bat, I screw it up, because you know what's way effing harder than writing a review of a book like this...
WRITING the gawd-damn book. Fuck. I'm sorry Ijeoma.)
But here we are, it's 2017, North American politics is a cess pool of alt-right, fake news, white supremacist bullshit, and there are people who either believe that racism doesn't exist anymore or who see the rise of these so-called "politicians" as permission to be their racist-ass-selves all out in the public now....
And we (white people) all wring our hands and wonder, how did we get here?
The thing is folks, I am 100% positive that people of colour haven't seen this "sudden rise" in racism. They know it has always been there. That WE have always been here, a lot of us with our heads buried comfortably in the sand.
The internet and open platforms like Facebook and Twitter and blogging have given voices to those who have been on the margins of our squeaky clean, literally WHITE-WASHED world, and the choice we are faced with now, is to keep our heads buried in that sand, or lift them up, see the injustices faced by people who don't look like us, and figure out how to be good, effective allies and help put out the garbage-fire that is consuming our world.
Reading this book would be a good place to start.
I am talking about "So you want to talk about Race" by Ijeoma Oluo. I first started following and reading Ijeoma two years ago via Twitter. I have since devoured everything she has written. She is a warrior, a mother, a writer, a gawd-damn genius with make-up, and as much as I know this exhausts her - an educator for the (white) masses.
SYWTTAR is both a memoir and a manual. Oluo mined her life to give us examples of the kinds of everyday racism she has faced, that she still faces, each and every day. Can you imagine the strength one needs to be able to do that? To relive over and over, through edit after edit, book tours, interviews, and readings, the most painful, dehumanizing points in your life?
Ijeoma did that. She has said that she writes because she has to, she writes to be heard and for others who can't be heard. And in this instance, I feel like she has also written this book, so that when the randos come at her on Twitter or Facebook demanding she explain racism to them ONCE AGAIN, she can now send them a link to Amazon and GET PAID FOR THAT SHIT!
And people, you will pay for this book, and if you are ready, you will learn from it, and as a result (I hope) you will become a better ally to all people of colour. Because this book is not only a memoir of Oluo's deeply personal stories, it is a manual for the rest of us on how to not only talk about race, but to actively do some introspection to understand and acknowledge our own racism, and then actually do something about it.
If you consider yourself to be intersectional, this is required reading.
If you consider yourself an ally to people of colour, this is required reading.
If you think you shouldn't talk about racism because you are not a visible minority, this is required reading.
If you are worried about saying the wrong thing when talking about race, THIS IS REQUIRED READING.
If you are a human person, who was born on a day ending in Y,
THIS. IS. REQUIRED. READING.
And yes, there will be a test...
Be ready for it.