This year I have learned so much about the racial disparities in our country. I always knew the history of racial oppression, but this year I have learned the importance of breaking out of my “Northbrook bubble” and learning about how others’ lived experiences are influenced by their race and the race of those they surround themselves with. Before choosing to read “So You Want To Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo, I flipped through the pages and saw the chapter names. At first, some of the chapters seemed obvious to me. Chapter two is titled “What is Racism?”. I thought that I knew what racism was because we talk about it so much in class and I have read so much about it this year. Immediately after thinking this, I thought – wait. I was skipping over the chapter of 14 pages so quickly just because I have done my research on some of the racist actions in recent years. Those 14 pages could be filled with a completely different perspective and definition of what racism is, and I first thought I could just skip it based on my previous knowledge. I decided to choose this as my book so I could learn more about people’s experiences of racism and how I can be anti-racist in a structurally racist society.
Of course, I had an idea of what topics this book would cover. Just by looking at the chapters I knew it would walk through beginnings of what Black people experience in America while integrating ways to improve society as we know it. However as I ventured deeper into the book, a whole new series of questions arose in my head as the experiences and true nature of our racist society became clear to me. In the first 30 pages, Oluo laid out a clear definition of racism that she would use for the rest of her book.