So You Want to Talk About Race

This book targets people of all races who want to engage in more informed conversations about race and racism in the United States. The writing is straightforward, sometimes biting, and very insightful. The author grew up in the Pacific Northwest attending schools where she was often the only Black person. For those interested in taking a next step in advocating for social justice, So You Want to Talk About Race is a powerful and informative resource.

272 pages. ©2019.
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Reader Reviews for this Book

Judith K. Martin

Review posted December 19, 2020


I was surprised by the statistics on the drop out rates and the various comparison's to other races suffering from White Supremacy. As a white woman I have shared in some discussions about race issues but never more so than with the Black Lives Matter movement that until the killings on video have been seen. This reality never was so real until then. Seeing our laws shaped to allow no action against racism was shocking and undeniable. Change must come. Income equality, housing and education must all be changed before America is the home of the free. My thanks to the author for her dedication to reform for people of all color and none.


Review posted December 17, 2020


Excellent book. Well written, clear and concrete steps you can take immediately to have difficult conversations. Would recommend to anyone.


Review posted December 10, 2020


I enjoyed reading this group for a book group in my community. Even though I think it's hard for one person to share every negative experience a person of color can have, I appreciate the author sharing their experience. As a brown skinned girl I didn't agree with everything the author said, but there are definitely great talking points.


Review posted December 7, 2020


I found this book to be easy to read, clearly laid out, and relevant. I really appreciated the addition of the discussion guide. it is easy to navigate reference tool for conversations that can be hard to start and necessary to have. Thanks!

[email protected]

Review posted December 4, 2020


I really enjoyed this book though I did not read it straight through, I gave each section some time to sink in before coming back to it. Much better written than other anti-racist contemporary nonfiction, both easy narrative and easily digestible bullet points for take-aways. A few takeaways, (1) "These conversations will always be hard, because they will always be about the pain of real people." And (2) "we must be willing to hold our darkness to the light, we must be willing to shatter our veneer of 'goodness'" Lots of tools to help set intentions aside and see impact in real life moments, decisions and actions. A nice critical eye toward the racism in person vs online/ social media, and a recognition of how racism nests into the culture of the Pacific Northwest. I do recommend this book, even for someone who's attended the trainings and read some of the literature, this is one to read with post it notes and a highlighter for reference later.

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Review posted November 30, 2020


This is an excellent book, explaining issues of systemic racism in clear, understandable ways. I learned so much from reading this book, I want to share it with everyone I know. And yet, at the same time, I know these issues are complex, and that I will want to refer back to this book again and again. Not only do I feel I have a much better understanding of what systemic racism is and how to talk about it, I now have specific ideas of things I can do in my own community to fight against it.


Review posted November 24, 2020


Appropriate book to introduce race into conversation. Very well thought out. Would highly recommend.


Review posted November 24, 2020


This book is so easy to read and the information is very much needed, especially during this time we are in. It deals with difficult topics in a straight forward way and helps people who want to address their racism to move forward.


Review posted November 19, 2020


While I found a lot to learn from this book, I also found it to be somewhat "preachy". I was disappointed that it did not go into more details of all kinds of bias, that even African Americans have towards other African Americans. The author touched on this at the picnic "encounter" but no depth. Bottomline - there are some good lessons to learn from reading this but recommend reading others views as well to broaden your horizons.

Terri 001

Review posted November 17, 2020


There are many terms that I hear- tone policing, white privilege etc that the author was very adept at defining and giving examples. The book was very readable


Review posted November 15, 2020


"So You Want to Talk About Race" is an informative look at race. It aims to help readers better have conversations about race. I enjoyed Oluo's writing style. Her arguments are simultaneously effective, well thought, and easy to digest. She often uses her personal experiences to illustrate common issues. The chapter on tone policing is especially well done.


Review posted November 15, 2020


Engaging, thought provoking, makes you step back to think about how you came to your beliefs.


Review posted November 11, 2020


This is an extremely important book for those who are seeking to learn about systemic racism, the ways each of us contribute to that racism, and what we can do to better address it. It is approachable and easy to read, while not shying away from many important topics, like privilege, intersectionality, cultural appropriation, etc.


Review posted November 10, 2020


This book is thought-provoking and provides explanations of various aspects of race for the reader. It also gives suggestions of things you can do to help in each chapter. Although the topic of race is serious and heavy, I enjoyed that the author weaves humor into her writing of this book.


Review posted November 9, 2020


This is a book that I think everyone needs to read. It begins the conversation you should have with yourself about race and encourages you to have this conversation with others. This book breaks down the meaning of race and racism, and how race relates to privilege, inequality, microaggressions, cultural appropriation, and other factors surrounding race. This book is a call to action. Ijeoma Oluo puts a spotlight on racism and gives readers guidelines on how to combat it in a racist society. This book will speak to you, challenge you, and encourage you to reevaluate your preconceived thoughts. A must-read to become an ally to POC, and fight structural injustice.

Stefanie Hui

Review posted November 7, 2020


Great book that really dives into the issues facing this country and what has become our current societal norm.


Review posted November 4, 2020


I am ready to talk about race now. I will practice with white friends, but I am ready to listen to people of color with respect for the subtle and not so subtle discrimination they have had to endure for the history of this country. Thank you for this book. I am a better person for having read it, I hope.


Review posted November 2, 2020


Eye opener!!!


Review posted November 2, 2020


Such an eye opener around the subject of race in America


Review posted October 30, 2020


Highly recommend this book! Oluo does a fantastic job of presenting complex information about history, class, law, and race in a way that is understandable to all.


Review posted October 27, 2020


ijeoma Oluo’s book, So You Want To Talk About Race, is perfect for individuals, and most usefully, for groups of white people who want to learn about people of other colors and the issues they face. It’s honest, direct, has multiple personal examples of her suggestions, and reads as interestingly as a novel. It’s for people who in good faith want to know how to be allies for POC without being condescending or taking over. Oluo says we can do that by helping to remove obstacles faced by POC of which white people are barely aware.


Review posted October 23, 2020


I learned a lot reading this book. I found the information very accessible and relatable to current racial issues and it really helped with questions about what to do and what not to do to support people of color. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the struggles of marginalized people and what can be done to be part of the solution.

Sherrill Kirchhoff

Review posted October 19, 2020


Everything You Wanted to Know About Race But Were Afraid to Ask So You Want To Talk About Race by Ljeoma Oluo is a 255-page (including a handy-dandy, chapter-by-chapter Discussion Guide) paperback that is so straight-forward as to be scary! The author, previously a journalist at The Stranger, a Seattle, WA alternative newspaper state that her goal isn't "to call out the 'bad' white people and console the 'good' ones, but to raise the bar for all of us committed to equality and justice." She further states that her moral imperative is "Writing commentary on social issues that could be of use." Oluo wants to bring journalism and writing in general back from the "abyss of click bait and outrage porn." A further goal is "to give readers the fundamentals of how race understand race better, and how to talk about race more effectively, and with more kindness...a tool they can hold in their hands and turn back different issues regarding race came up in their lives." In addition to some Basic Rules about Race which, she reminds us, "is a social construct--it has no bearing in science", the author has this take-away: "White Supremacy is this nation's oldest pyramid scheme. You will get more because they exist to get less." None of this is easy reading, but it does give the majority a chance to walk in shoes less comfortable and perhaps think about a different perspective.


Review posted October 16, 2020


I really enjoyed reading this book. As someone who has read a lot of books on race, I appreciated this perspective. The author presented the topic of race and racism through an easy to digest format. Each chapter was a different topic about race (i.e., microaggressions, racial slurs, police brutality, etc.) and made me feel better prepared to have these discussions in real life. I highly recommend this read!


Review posted October 8, 2020


A great, accessible introduction to anti-racism. Highly recommend!


Review posted October 5, 2020


This book's message stayed on with me even after I finished reading it. Each chapter was powerful, and deserves to be read and reread. Each chapter was a heartfelt conversation about provocative topics on race, and each chapter left one with a greater understanding and a way to move forward. We should talk about race, and through this book we get the inspiration, the courage, and the concrete ways to do so.


Review posted September 25, 2020


Crucial for all educators. Great guide for talking about hard topics.


Review posted September 24, 2020


Very excited to read this book!


Review posted September 18, 2020


Being that this book is one of the most relevant books written in this century it has been reviewed a lot. Every time a Black person is killed by a police officer this book flies off the shelf. The Author, Ijeoma Oluo, has commented on the experience of profiting and being able to continue her livelihood off money generated from so much pain. This is her first book, she will soon release her next book Mediocre. I have no doubt that this book will also bring important discussions and tools to the forefront of the movement we are in for the lives of BIPOC. To say this book is relevant is an understatement. It is a well laid out how-to-manual for dealing with race in the 21st Century. It is written from a place of love and experience. It is practical and easy to reference. The author is very clear right up front who this book is for. It is for people dedicated to anti-racism no matter where they fall in the spectrum of life. If you want to work towards better communication with your fellow humans in regards to the very real and lived experiences of people of color than this is the book for you. So You Want To Talk About Race is above all things a narrative of a life lived, the narrative frames and informs a straightforward practical guide to communicating about a difficult topic. This book will make you laugh and cry like all great narratives do but it will also leave you with tools. Real, solid, well laid out tools on how to deal with conversations around race with everyone from a coworker to a loved one. Oluo is matter of fact about when to engage and when to back away. Oluo never lets us think that putting down the fight is an option but she is very gracious with helping us live with our discomfort and providing tools for when we are ready for the next round. Her prose style and love for people make this book one of the most beautiful pieces of work written on race. Black people stay fighting for their lives and it is well past time the rest of us do our part to fight with them. To fight with compassion but also with effective tools that ensure solutions and forward momentum. Oluo has given a gift to those of us dedicated to anti-racism and the more people that read it, the more people that are given the tools, the better America and its people will be.


Review posted September 16, 2020


This belongs on every bookshelf that supports diversity and understanding inclusion.