I was fortunate that my library has been able to provide a lot of books through their online catalog, and I decided to pick this gem up. Growing up in Canada, while racism is a prevalent topic that affect us, it wasn’t something that was studied in depth or thoroughly at school. I recognized it as an ongoing issue, but I didn’t realize how widely and deeply it stemmed.
With the ongoing Black Live Matter movement, I picked up this book in hopes of learning more about the struggle of Blacks in America. So You Want to Talk About Race is such a great intro read into systemic racism. Ijeoma writes in a clear and straightforward style; she doesn’t hesitate to say what needs to be said.
It gave me a new perspective on understanding how racism was more ingrained in our system than we realized, and how from early on in childhood, the education system sets kids up for failure and reinforces the school-to-prison pipeline. It made me realize how serious of a problem for-profit prisons and arrest quotas are for Black Americans. But it also pointed out more subtle things, like why hair means so much to their race, and how deeply they see their art and music as a reflection of the struggle and oppression they’ve faced in history.
Ijeoma also talks about microaggressions and implicit bias. More so, she explains how generalized comments made on a race (whether it be Black, Latino, or Asian) will only continue to feed into the vicious cycle of stereotypes that not only strengthens the biases but also reinforces the pay gap and job inequalities. But she also warns the risk of being race blind and how it is not a solution.
I found her thoughts on intersectionality truly interesting. Especially with the sparks against the letter from JK Rowling occurring during this week of protests, I’ve come to realize how many people fall into more than just one social category (whether it be minority and female, black and lgbtq, female and queer, etc). There is a pressing need to be able to address the intersections and overlaps so that they are not overlooked in the social movements.
I highly recommend it, especially if you are new to the topic on race. Ijeoma explains it in simple terms, always bringing in her own experiences and engaging the readers to reflect on the issue with her.