Review of “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo

If you participated in our Summer Bingo Challenge, then you may have read one the books listed in our Anti-Racism Reading and Resources List. Some titles, like Richard Rothstein’s Color of Law, are available in our Lexis Digital Library. Inspired by the challenge, I read So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo. To find a copy you can go to or search the catalog at your local library website (Riverside city or county). 

Ijeoma Oluo is an award-winning, best-selling “writer, speaker and Internet Yeller” based in Seattle, Washington. She wrote So You Want to Talk About Race to address the need for honest conversations about race and how hard they are to have. This book provides context for why race is relevant, demystifying confusion surrounding affirmative action, the immigration policies that lead to the model minority myth, and privilege. It illustrates examples of common, cumulative microaggressions that many people of color experience throughout their lives. However, this by no means describes the diverse experiences of all people of color with all their varying intersections.

In each chapter, Oluo answers a particular question, such as “What if I talk about race wrong?” and “Talking is great, but what else can I do?” Oluo seamlessly uses and defines current terminology and makes clear the importance of intersectionality when understanding and discussing race. So You Want to Talk About Race is for anyone who wants a refresher or explanation of the basics of racism in the United States or an entryway into understanding and participating in current discussions of race. If you are in search of empathetic and honest answers to some of your most burning questions regarding race, then this is the book for you. 

If you read the book as voraciously as I did and are looking for more, the Anti-Racism Reading and Resources List provides fiction and non-fiction book suggestions for various age groups, as well as articles. If you’re looking for more information on race and law, you could also explore the Civil Rights and Social Justice database on HeinOnline, which includes supreme court briefs, legislative histories, scholarly articles, and more! You can view our databases here and contact to request remote access to HeinOnline. If you would rather watch a video, you can view our Book to Action1 event “An Afternoon with Obie Anthony, Exonerated Nation”. However, if you are just getting started, So You Want to Talk About Race is the perfect place to begin.

Race is difficult to discuss, in part because it affects everyone differently. Reading about policy from a variety of perspectives can help us all to understand how the law plays out for people in all their unique situations and backgrounds. One of RCLL’s goals is to serve as an effective conduit between the public and the world of legal research and practice and we hope that our reading lists provide the connection between what is happening out in society and how it intertwines with law. 

[1] Book to Action is a program of the California Library Association, supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.You can check the Riverside and Indio branches to see if there are still copies of Just Mercy to pick up.


By rcll

September 17, 2021

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