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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller

Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick.

From a leading voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female that exposes how White America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals. 

“Austin Channing Brown introduces herself as a master memoirist. This book will break open hearts and minds.” (Glennon Doyle, number one New York Times best-selling author of Untamed)

Austin Channing Brown's first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a White man. Growing up in majority-White schools and churches, Austin writes, "I had to learn what it means to love blackness", a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America's racial divide as a writer, speaker, and expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion.

In a time when nearly every institution (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claims to value diversity in its mission statement, Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice. Her stories bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric - from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-White organizations. For listeners who have engaged with America's legacy on race through the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Eric Dyson, I'm Still Here is an illuminating look at how White, middle-class Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the listener to confront apathy, recognize God's ongoing work in the world, and discover how Blackness - if we let it - can save us all.

©2018 Austin Channing Brown (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Powerful...Brown calls on readers to live their professed ideals rather than simply state them.” (Publishers Weekly)

"What a stunning debut from a seasoned racial justice leader. Austin does double duty by fiercely affirming blackness while simultaneously unveiling and demystifying the subtle effects of white supremacy among Christians. I trust Austin, I listen to Austin and I learn from Austin. I hope you will too." (Christena Cleveland, professor at Duke University and author of Disunity in Christ)

"The movement toward diversity and forgiveness, [Brown] points out, too often involves white people seeking credit for recognizing the crimes of the past even as they do nothing to fix things today, and black people being required to provide endless absolution and information while calmly enduring dignity-eroding and rage-inducing injustices." (Library Journal)

What listeners say about I'm Still Here

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A Black woman in a middle class White America

A little over a week ago I sat down with a list of the books I had read since the start of 2017 and analyzed the authors. I looked at how many were White, how many were women, how many were fiction versus non-fiction. What I discovered when I completed this quick exercise was that I read just over 60% non-fiction. Although the authors of the fiction I read was was roughly evenly split between men and women authors, my non-fiction was five times more likely to be male authors as female. And my non-fiction was three times more likely to be White than non-White authors. Because of my bias toward non-fiction, I read mostly White males.

This exercise was not about meeting a quota, but about exploring what as a reader I am consuming. How much do I, when not paying attention, default to reading the voices of White males (a lot). What do I need to do to make sure I am not internalizing the bias of my reading choices? With that information, I know that I need to make sure I am intentionally picking up more books written by minorities, especially women.

I picked up I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness yesterday, when it came out, in part because of my exercise not hearing minority, especially female minority authors. I’m Still Here is brief, just over 3 hours in audiobook. It is mostly memoir. Austin Channing Brown opens with a story about how her name (one that is associated mostly with White Males) was chosen intentionally to get her in the door for interviews. She grew up in mostly White neighborhoods and going to mostly White schools. It wasn’t until college that she had her first Black teacher. But the saturation in White culture did not change her skin color or how she was perceived by those that were going to judge her because of her gender or skin.

It appears to me that I’m Still Here is written primarily for Black women, but with the intention to be overheard by others. She celebrates her blackness because that is how God created her. And she celebrates the comfort of the Black church in the reality of the difficulties of the world. It tells about the emotional baggage that has been heaped upon her as a professional woman working mostly in Christian non-profits to do the work of making Whites feel good about how much progress has been made in racial issues or to spoon feed them history about racism in the US.

Part of her work has been directly around diversity and racial awareness. So she has both informal and formal background in what it means to be a Black Woman in a White Christian world. She has led diversity trainings and facilitated White youth groups coming into urban neighborhoods for awareness building. She has been asked to understand plenty without most Whites being willing to understand even a portion.

I am very glad that the end of the book spoke directly about racial reconciliation. She diagnoses the problem well,

“...reconciliation is not about white feelings. It’s about diverting power and attention to the oppressed, toward the powerless. It’s not enough to dabble at diversity and inclusion while leaving the existing authority structure in place. Reconciliation demands more."

When I criticized John Perkins’ recent book One Blood, it wasn’t that I didn’t agree with his basic point, that we as Christians are in fact one blood and that racial reconciliation is very important. I disagreed with the tone and focus of the book because it was not hard enough on Whites. And Perkins seem to place, if not equal, at least significant, responsibility on minority Christians for their part in making racial reconciliation work within the church. Austin Channing Brown is not playing around with that type of equivocation. Racism is the result of White’s prejudice and power, and while many minorities want to work to end racism, the reality is that they have mostly been doing the work unassisted. Racism is ultimately a White problem as James Baldwin has said. But one where the largest payment for the problem is borne by those that are not White.

I’m Still Here is one of the best examples of why, even though I think that White authors need to step up and talk about race and prejudice and racism and history, we cannot stop listening to people of color, especially women, as they tell us their reality.

(I also appreciate that the publisher let her read her own book. Books should be, whenever possible, narrated by their own author.)

69 people found this helpful

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A must read for “good” white people

This book will break your heart if you haven’t been broken by racial injustice already and it will break it again if you have. This is essential reading for all of us well-meaning “good” white people.

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Read this. Or listen to it.

My white ears will need to consider this book - which is not for me but has so much to teach me - over and over again.

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:/

I was hoping to learn from this book. I walked away having heard a very bitter story and a lot of “ exhausting white people “ stories. That was the narrative . I wanted to learn from her and be able to apply. Very disappointing.

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Racism is terrible. Now what?

Brown makes the omnipresent weight of racism crystal clear. But if you already thought racism is a bad and common thing (or if you didn’t), the book gives no idea what you can do to address it, help minorities, or work against it effectively - personally or societally.

14 people found this helpful

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4 hours of bashing white people

I was hoping to gain an understanding for a different perspective from listening to this book. I came with an open mind and an interested heart. However, this whole book is built upon overgeneralizations about an entire race of people. At every turn the whites are conspiring and destroying black culture. Every single negative experience the author has with a white person is contextualized into something having to do with racism. Just absolutely over the top. No new ideas and no new insights. Just bashing on white people for 4 hrs and fostering a victim mentality. Really don't recommend.

13 people found this helpful

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Read this book!!

I really enjoyed this book. It’s honest, brave, direct, captivating. It was a gift to hear the novel read by the author as well. Please read this book!!!

13 people found this helpful

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Amazing

I loved every bit of this book. Very profound and extremely brutally honest in a very caring way with a purpose of shedding light on very relevant issues. I understand where the author is coming from as far as being alienated for being different or just flat out being yourself that with being amongst your own as well as other ethnicities. So proud to say I have known Mrs. Austin Channing Brown. One thing I must say is that I am extremely jealous to say I never took one of Dr. Sims courses.

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Thereputic

As I listened to this book on my drive home from Michigan and again in the grocery store at Meijer and took in the words of this dear sister, I feel so seen. My hurts have been acknowledged, my pain experienced, my joy lifted up. I am thankful for the labor of love this book has been. And for the way the Lord has used it to bring comfort to my soul.

6 people found this helpful

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Seminal work

This should be required reading for anyone doing work in racial justice. If you are white and you ever wondered what your non-white coworker was experiencing - Austin Channing Brown lays it bare. Hearing her truth, seeing her experience, being gifted her thoughts is a deep honor. Hearing her truth has given words to what I’ve observed and been complicit in countless times - well-intentioned white people and their anemic or damaging attempts to confront racism. Well worth multiple listens. And more than her Mom will read it, believe me!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Lisa Coombs
  • 09-01-20

A huge wake up call.

I understand that as a white woman I will never understand. However, I stand for anti racism and books like this help to educate and guide me.

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  • K Taylor
  • 07-23-20

Personal view, rather than workbook.

I listened hard and used compassion. I had just read "Me and White Supremacy", so this felt more like an autobiography and it is very well written. ACB has a lot which is powerful, relevant and useful to say.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-18-20

Powerful and important.

Austin Channing Brown is honest, courageous and needs to be heard. I have both respect and appreciation for her publishing to the world her lived experience of racism. Her openness in showing the continued damage being done by white supremacy through her story and the story of those she loves deserves deep listening and a wide audience. Her bravery makes clearer to me the necessity for all of us to be brave and speak, reflect and act honestly as we play our parts in what comes next.

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  • L.A.D Taylor
  • 07-09-20

Must read

Thank you for this essential beautiful book. Standing alongside you in the shadow of hope.

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  • Kelly O'Brien
  • 07-08-20

A must read

An extremely well written and thought provoking book which every white person needs to read.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-06-20

Great Listen

I feel gently taken by the hand and shown how the world honestly is for Austin. Her observations and points are clear and backed up. Going to be running through my mind long after I have finished listening to it.

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  • Suzie
  • 06-06-20

Insightful, thought provoking, brutally honest

I couldn't put it down, it challenges the reader to be honest about themselves without compromise

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  • Katherine
  • 05-30-18

Eloquent and Eye opening

A must listen for anyone interested in examining their own and learning about race and privilege.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kaitlin
  • 01-15-21

Powerful and beautifully written

Austin's insight of growing up as a black woman in a white world is unlike anything I've read/listen to. many parts of this book sounded like poetry and left me with Goosebumps constantly

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-02-20

Shadow hope

This book has so beautifully and personally expressed the anger and hope/lessness and power of a story so heart wrenchingly the norm, which is where it’s strength lies.

This is not the story of one black woman, but black women (daughters and friends and cousins and wives and mothers and teachers and seekers and church family) in America - her story is THE story.

It is not manipulative though it stirs emotion.

It makes me confront the “not all white people” that wants to escape the white guilt throat of this nice white woman. Because it matters. It matters that I listen. That I notice my reaction and then push it aside to listen, and then come back and examine it myself.

The notion that segregation was not the only option was really powerful. How has I never considered this or heard it before in all the things I had read or seen or discussions over the past several years?

There is so much to learn in the unashamed telling of a familiar story. Of this one anyway.

I know what it’s like to hope in shadows, for different reasons than this author, but it also makes it more important to me to help make that hope-shadow a certainty for the future. For all of our children.

Read this book.
Gift this book.
Absorb it into your skin.
Let it create new or deeper neural pathways.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-19-20

A must read, very sobering

This book was incredibly confronting for me and was exactly what I needed. This book opened my mind my eyes my heart, it would be impossible to not look back and do nothing now. I highly recommend this book.

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  • N. Nicholls
  • 03-27-19

Loved this!

Wonderfully written, beautifully read by Austin. A compelling book. Thank you for sharing your story and your experience, Austin.