Get the key ideas from

So You Want to Talk About Race

An examination of the complex system of racism in the United States

By Ijeoma Oluo
16-minute read
Audio available
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

So You Want To Talk About Race (2018) examines the complex system of racism in the United States, from police brutality to cultural appropriation to the school-to-prison pipeline. It offers clarity on ways we can approach conversations about race and take action against structural injustice.

  • Citizens who care about social justice
  • People who want to improve their understanding of racism
  • Anyone who wants to learn how to discuss race

Ijeoma Oluo is a writer and speaker. Her work on race has been published in the New York Times, Elle, the Guardian, and the Washington Post. In 2018, she was awarded the Feminist Humanist Award from the American Humanist Society.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,500+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

So You Want to Talk About Race

An examination of the complex system of racism in the United States

By Ijeoma Oluo
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Synopsis

So You Want To Talk About Race (2018) examines the complex system of racism in the United States, from police brutality to cultural appropriation to the school-to-prison pipeline. It offers clarity on ways we can approach conversations about race and take action against structural injustice.

Key idea 1 of 10

Racism is inextricably woven into – and reinforced by – systems of power.

After Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, many people speculated that the Democratic Party had lost because America’s societal problem was about class, not race. They felt the Left had been too focused on the needs of Black people, Latinx people, women in general, and trans people while leaving out working class white men. If you improved things for the lower classes, they argued, things would improve for minorities. 

Author Ijeoma Oluo found herself exhausted from constantly having this debate – after all, the injustices that keep an able-bodied Black woman poor are not the same as those that keep a disabled white man poor. So she started directly asking people: “Why do you think Black people are poor? Do you think it’s for the same reasons white people are poor?” 

The truth is, race is one of the largest variables determining your success in the United States – a point that often goes unacknowledged.

The key message here is: Racism is inextricably woven into and reinforced by systems of power.

Today, more than half a century after the civil rights movement, the racial wealth gap is just as large. This is no accident; racism was built into the US economic system. It has long justified white supremacy, which offers those deemed superior the promise that “you will get more because they exist to get less.” 

This promise can’t be undone purely by addressing class, so we need to start talking about race. But often, the first hurdle to clear is the question of whether or not something is in fact about race.

To begin, consider these three points:

First, if a person of color thinks it’s about race, it is. Their racial identity is a part of them, and it’s interacting with the situation.

Second, if it affects people of color differently or disproportionately, it’s about race.Finally, if it fits into a larger pattern that differently or disproportionately affects people of color, it’s about race.

Before we continue, it’s helpful to establish a clear definition of racism. Two common ones are: “any prejudice against someone because of their race” and “any prejudice against someone because of their race, when those views are reinforced by systems of power.”

The second definition is more applicable here because, in the United States, racism is typically reduced to the actions of the individual. “How so?” you may wonder. Well, in an environment where racism is systemic, its maintenance is fueled by the complacency of individuals. And so the only way to fight systemic oppression is by personally, actively dismantling it.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.