So You Want to Talk About Race

Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
Categories: History, Americas
5 out of 5 stars (3,397 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A current, constructive, and actionable exploration of today's racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that listeners of all races need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide 

In So You Want to Talk About Race, editor-at-large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions listeners don't dare ask and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans. 

Oluo is an exceptional writer with a rare ability to be straightforward, funny, and effective in her coverage of sensitive, hyper-charged issues in America. Her messages are passionate but finely tuned and crystallize ideas that would otherwise be vague by empowering them with aha-moment clarity. Her writing brings to mind voices like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay, Jessica Valenti in Full Frontal Feminism, and a young Gloria Naylor, particularly in Naylor's seminal essay "The Meaning of a Word". A Harper's Bazaar pick of One of 10 Books to Read in 2018. 

©2018 Ijeoma Oluo (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Bahni Turpin's impassioned voice clearly conveys the gravity of this book on race and racism.... Key points are repeated to help listeners absorb ideas and definitions, and Turpin engagingly reads real-life examples Oluo uses to illustrate complex concepts such as intersectionality and white privilege." (AudioFile)  

Featured Article: 10 of the Best Black Audiobook Narrators to Listen To


Representation in all forms of media is critically important. The erasure of the identities of BIPOC and the oversaturation of white voices in arts contribute to a culture where inequality reigns. Diverse voices are imperative in audio: Black narrators in particular must have their performances amplified and celebrated. Audiences should have the ability to hear themselves in the works they consume, and to engage with art that is driven by authentic deliveries.

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A Reminder to Read Books that Make You Uncomfortable

Yes, conversations about race are awkward to hard and even hurtful and I’m not thrilled to be categorized as a white supremacist simply because I am white but even with all that discomfort, confusion, eyebrow raises, and slack jawed moments I experienced while listening I have to say my world feels bigger after reading this. My perspective is changed. I didn’t understand or even recognize my own racism or white privilege. I have not had to confront racism and I have not seen the part in it that I have played or know what action I could take to change. I am asking questions of myself and assumptions I’ve made about a range of other issues because if I didn’t see this, what else am I not seeing? I feel very blessed to have come across Oluo’s book and will continue to follow her work. I also feel compelled to share that the narration is top notch.

65 people found this helpful

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An Important Must-Read, but Worse than Expected

I have mixed feelings about the book.
On the one hand, I believe it is a must-read for anyone in the U.S., and a highly recommended read for anyone outside the U.S.
At the very least, it will give you a good perspective into the racial tensions in the U.S. and a good understanding of how it is seen by the activists of the African American community. Many eye-opening examples and explanations.
On the other hand, the book is not particularly engaging. Justifiably, it is filled with rants and complaints. However, I felt the case could have been made more strongly with more statistics and references to more studies. The book felt like a rally speech, and less like a piece of scholarly work.
Still, highly recommend. It was a good use of my time.

23 people found this helpful

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Entertaining and wise.

I was hesitant to this book because I am a biracial black woman in America and I wasn't sure this book was written for me or that I would have much to gain from it. Being mixed race often leaves you in the world of the 'other'. Often books on race are written to educate white people or vindicate poc. But this does that, but it expands into so much more than that. Everyone can be educated and maybe even find vindication in this guide to constructive conversation.

It was also nice that it felt as if Bahni Turpin really identified with and embodied the work. Thanks for the great read.

16 people found this helpful

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Excellent book, excellently narrated.

Ijeoma Oluo has a gift for delivering hard medicine with humor and sensitivity. If you are a white person who wants to do better, this is a perfect primer on how (and when) to have conversations about race without doing more harm than good.

And Bahni Turpin is an impeccable narrator. She reads with a clarity and conviction that makes the content feel completely fresh, like a conversation, rather than a reading. A perfect fit with Ijeoma Oluo's writing style, too.

28 people found this helpful

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Must read for white folks

I have done a lot of work on my privilege and racial bias (and I still have a LONG way to go) and books like this are so helpful, great reminders and calls to action, I will be rereading it again soon and asking all of my church staff to read it as well!

11 people found this helpful

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best audio book yet

First the topic and writing is amazing. Whether or not you're interested in issues of race, the author describes in precise detail the workings of our white supremacy system in all our lives. Yes, there are a lot of specific pointers about having conversations around race whether you're white or of color. For me it was far more important in its description of workings of the system that I can't see from my position. most of all, she handles these loaded issues with a great deal of compassion and humor along with straight talk. The narrator is the best I've heard, as well. I've already given 2 copies if the book away...

9 people found this helpful

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I'm really glad I took a chance on this book

If you could sum up So You Want to Talk About Race in three words, what would they be?

This book was insightful, challenging, and thoughtful.

Any additional comments?

I had never heard of the author before but I am so glad that I read this book because I do want to talk about race. It's a conversation that needs to keep going. In some places it's a conversation that hasn't even started.

15 people found this helpful

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Logical Fallacy: (n)...

Difficult to follow when viewed in the light of heuristics and neurology. Reduces innate behavior and normal cultural adaptation to conscious wrong behavior. Identity politics defeat the collective goal of a neutral society. As the author states, she is mixed race as are many people, yet she clearly chooses to identify as belonging to one racial group instead of the other. Her stance that lighter skin equates to increasingly unfair social credit fails to account for the millions of light complexion people left behind in society. There is no doubt that racism exists in America, but choosing a tribe and attacking the other is not the way to accomplish it. Humans are all Africans. We belong to different families, not different races.

16 people found this helpful

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Critical and a must read

At the risk of being just another white woman talking about how a book on race makes her feel...this book made me feel a lot. I consider myself a feminist and over the last year have learned much about intersectionality, and how I cannot fight for the rights of women without also including other marginalized people. But I do not have many people of color in my life. My social media feed is made up of mostly white liberal women. I didn’t feel comfortable talking about race, suspecting I was probably a little racist myself. I found this book on a list of must-read books on race. The chapter headings immediately hooked me. These were the questions I wanted to ask, and didn’t know how.

Ijeoma presents the information calmly and with some humor but also with the underlying steel and passion that evokes a real emotional response to many tragic topics. She answers questions and brings up additional information I had never previously considered. I believe everyone should read this book and begin to take action in their communities.

4 people found this helpful

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Must Read

Everything I hoped it would be and more, easy to understand chock full of numbered points of advice on various topics, personal anecdotes that connect to the larger picture and the inspiration to have these conversations and also take action.

If you’ve read and loved and learned from Ijeoma Oluo’s words online or in social media, you’ll recognize her same understanding of the complexity of these conversations (especially those that white people should be having with one another) and also her passion for social justice.

If you’re not familiar with her incredibly important work, and you’re willing to listen openly about racism from someone with much lived experience woven beautifully into a larger picture where we can all have an impact - positive, if we choose - I’d highly recommend this book.

This book covers many of the basics as a reminder so some but also encourages deeper reflection within ourselves. There are parts that feel necessarily squirmy, but it’s clear that she remains focused entirely on helping us all have better conversations about race and take better actions to change a system that isn’t fair.

If you’re not sure that’s the case about our system that still oppresses people but are open to listen, this book is a great place to do that, quietly away from some internet fight and with time to pause and consider.

Please read this.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-26-20

An incredible eye-opener

This book made me cry so many times. I'm an Eastern European, and for such a long time I didn't understand what the debate about race was all about. I was angry that white people were being all lumped together, but I didn't know much about these issues, so I decided to try listening first. It pays off. I really had no idea. I'd say please, please, if you want to talk about racial issues, read this first. This book is not going to change the opinions of people who don't want to listen, and maybe a lot of this is nothing new to people who have long been taking racial equality seriously, but if you are a "beginner" like me (and I would quietly add, that many of us likely know a lot less about this than we think we know), this book is a must read.

12 people found this helpful

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  • George
  • 10-29-18

Thank You.

All I can say is an overwhelming thank you to Ijeoma for writing this book. Where my words have failed me this book has given me a voice, a voice so precise and clear that tears run down my eyes as I realise that I AM NOT ALONE and someone else shares parts of my reality as BLACK.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Kris H.
  • 10-15-18

Informative, moving, strategic, and quotable

Oluo's points are masterfully made, with compelling logic and empathetic awareness of the reader throughout. She's certainly opened my eyes and I have a feeling I'll be returning to grab quotes. I listened to the reader at 1.00 and 1.10 speed and both sound great.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Maddie
  • 09-26-18

A MUST READ/LISTEN

Everyone, especially every white person should read/listen this book!
Everyone who wants to learn and be an ally to people of colour issues should have this book!
Everyone that works with minorities, every school, every public institution employee should read this book!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Arnold Seivwright
  • 06-08-20

growth can start here

if like me you've spent most of your life not quite thinking about race and definitely unsure of where to start, well heres a book for you, I'm still processing the complex of issue, but knowing that, processing and talking, thinking reflecting and action are all tools to defeat systemic racism, well, this book gives you more than a few ideas and directions on how to go about doing those things, although I dont live in america I think the ideas Ijeoma outlines could and should be applied anywhere, I hope to endeavour forward with these new tools and learn some more.

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  • Addy
  • 05-20-18

Outstanding Genius! Articulates so much of what I have always been unable to say

This book is important and it is important that you get to the end . If only I had her way with words, I might be able to say how brilliant and inspiring this is. The type of book i want to cuddle up to at that so I can wake with hope.

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  • Hannah Farrant
  • 06-18-20

Powerful and Important

You should read this book. Especially if it makes you uncomfortable. It is too important not to read.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-14-20

Inspiring and thought provoking

Knowledge to spur both reflection and action. Oluo's clear telling prompts a healthy feeling of awkwardness but also helps you to know how to sit with it and put it to good use.

1 person found this helpful

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  • mr d r p taylor
  • 06-09-20

a book everyone should hear

informative, well structured, practical. This is an important listen for anyone who wants to understand and have meaningful conversations about racism

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-09-20

Excellent

This was an accessible and exceptional book which really helped me to understand the nuances involved in discussions around race. Prepare to feel discomfort, in a very productive way, as this book pulls no punches. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-06-19

For Champions of Equality & Justice

As a WOC I found myself chuckling at times with the bittersweet familiarity, of Ijeoma’s experiences of talking about race with white people. I found the book to be a balm on the 1000 paper cuts of microagressions I experience daily. I also felt seen when she acknowledged her own unconscious bias towards Asian people’s experience of racism and our struggle with the model minority myth. Though this book is specifically for Americans, as a POC from Australia, I could still relate to the content, and see correlations between my country’s oppressive colonial systems and that of the US’.

4 people found this helpful