"We’re still waiting. We’re still hoping. We are still left behind." Ijema Olu
Are you struggling to talk about racism? Are you concerned about racist attitudes and beliefs as manifested in our most public figures? Do you truly want to broaden your view of injustice?
Ijeima Oluo, editor-at-large at the online magazine The Establishment, has just published a book every person who struggles with these questions should read: So You Want To Talk About Race? (January 2018)
Building on her life experiences, Oluo explains in clear, forceful language why institutional racism and prejudice inform every part of our society. Oluo tackles the tough issues – privilege, school-to-prison pipelines, police brutality, cultural appropriation, and a plethora of up-to-the-moment issues that all of us, no matter who we are, need to consider and incorporate into our daily struggle for justice.
Intersectionality, for example, is something that has not been addressed sufficiently on our blog. In fact, that lack is one of its major weaknesses.
Intersectionality is being cognizant of the fact that oppressed people are subject to multiple threats. Sure we can talk about racism in general terms. But it not merely a question of what race a person is that affects how they are treated or what injustices they face, but rather how rich or poor they are, how old they are, what gender they are and so on.
Racism co-mingles with sexism and class and ethnicity and ageism and all the other biases. When we look at only one factor and address only one issue, we miss the others.
Breaking free from single-minded approaches to injustice forces us, according to Oluo to “interact with people we have not reached out to before.”
In her discussion of intersectionality, Oluo provides a rich set of questions to inform our conversations with each other, to help us question what we read and the politicians we hear on the news and that help us step outside our comfort zone in our relationships with our family and friends, students and coworkers, and fellow human beings in general.
Based on Oluo, here is a version of her questions to apply to school and family and community group discussions.