So You Want to Talk About Race

Category: Social Sciences
Author: Ijeoma Oluo
This Month Reddit 3


by MaggieMae68   2019-07-21

Dude. I'm trying to help you and provide some information but you seem really dug into the "I'm not a racist" knee-jerk defensiveness. I might suggest a couple of books if you really care about learning about this stuff. These should get you started.

by Tufari   2019-07-21

Glad I refreshed before posting, you answer is much more complete than mine. I'm going to add in terms of making friends with similar interests, you have to be willing to participate in the things they want to do and ask them to join you in activities you like. Some people will say no, but in general you don't know if you like a particular activity unless you try.

"Just joining clubs" just gives you exposure to new people. You still have to do the legwork for actually making friends there. It's not really much different from meeting people anywhere else, it just gives you some starter conversational topics.

If you're lacking the social skills to feel comfortable having deeper conversations with others, that's where you need start. Like any other skill it takes practice, and practice builds confidence, and confidence makes you more comfortable. Restricting conversations to banter has to do with your insecurities not theirs.

With racial politics, people just aren't aware of them, and don't want to be preached at, as they're not in a position to contribute. You have to put in a little extra work when you're trying to get to those topics. Think intersectionality and start there. When people feel heard about their issues, they're much more willing to hear about ours. Then at least it's a conversation everyone can partake in. After that initial work, you'll know which one of your friends are allies willing to have these types of conversations, and which are not. I've personally found women to be a little more sympathetic about these issues than men, since you don't have to deal with the MRA and hotep crowds. Adding to what BSworld777 said, you also run into people who only care about the issues that personally affect them. So they're all for advocating for issues that gay men may face, but not issues that gay men of colour face. Same for feminism. You get people who care about feminism, except when an issue doesn't affect them as much as women of colour. (Don't be one of these people! It's really easy to fall into that trap.)

If you've not read it yet, I'm going to recommend "So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo". It's a book I've almost religiously been recommending people read this past year, as it's the best introduction to intersectionality I've found that I've actually been able to get people to engage with.

(PS - I enjoyed your reading blog post on the portrayal of women in The Boondocks)

by Tufari   2019-07-21

There's no easy fix to this. I would say with your friends, talk to the one who you think is most likely to be understanding and have your back first. So you want to talk about race is a good place to start, even if you just pick out some passages for them to read. That way when you approach the rest of your friends with that friend, you'll have some support there with you, and you won't just immediately get dismissed. Because with them there with you, that same message will be coming from a "peer".

It's a tough issue because white people don't get to experience being black, so they just don't get it. And it's very difficult to be able to put them in a position where they somewhat "get" at least part of it because they exist in a system that's been built for them from day one.

by wpietri   2019-01-09
If you are a non-white person, no, I would not say you have had your expectations set by experiencing white privilege.

You are welcome to empathize with white people. I often do. I am one. I empathize with that guy. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't acknowledge privilege.

If you can't fathom what this has to do with race, I'd suggest you haven't studied the topic enough. There is an ocean of history and rivers of current evidence that in America race drives a lot of this.

For example, you could go read Loewen's Sundown Towns, [1] which demonstrates that America had a major period of violent ethnic cleansing circa 1890-1930 known as the Nadir. That peaked with white people destroying America's most prosperous black district, firebombing it from the air and burning 35 blocks to the ground. [2]

You could go back from there and read about slavery and the civil war. You could read the various declarations of secession, where white people make clear they're willing to go to war because they believe black people are so inferior that they must forever be property. You could read the reports of the Freedmen's Bureau, and how even after the civil war there was endless violent aggression against black people.

Or you could go forward from the Nadir and read about Jim Crow. About white flight. About redlining. About racial exclusion covenants. Heck, right here in the Bay Area after WW II there was public debate over whether the peninsula should be declared whites only in its entirety.

From there you might read about the present. There too there's a ton of material. E.g., the classic resume study showing discrimination against black people. [3] And there are plenty of evocative books. E.g., Julie Lythcott-Haims's memoir Real American about growing up biracial. [4] Or Ijeoma Oluo's So You Want to Talk About Race. [5] And I don't think an understanding of American racial dynamics is complete without a look at white fragility. DiAngelo recently did a talk about her excellent book that's a good intro. [6]

I agree that America could be unique in the extent to which race matters historically and currently. But it's not like other countries don't have major issues with racial discrimination. Wikipedia has a very long list of ethnic cleansing campaigns, for example. [7] Congrats if your home country never had any of that, but that's not where you are now.

I also get why you might think discrimination was due to some correlative factor, like money. I used to think that too. But over time I came around. What changed was studying the history, looking at the evidence, and really listening to non-white people with empathy and an open mind.





by GuiA   2018-02-16
If you are legitimately curious and open minded about digging more into this topic, I highly recommend the recently published book "So You Want to Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo.