So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo | Buddy Read


So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In this breakout book, Ijeoma Oluo explores the complex reality of today’s racial landscape–from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement–offering straightforward clarity that readers 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. (Read more on goodreads)

Our Thoughts


I first heard about So You Want to Talk About Race from a person I follow on Twitter, who used it as part of his own anti-racism reading in the past. It is a book that addresses, chapter by chapter, common questions/concerns that people (often white people) have when it comes to talking about race. I think this book is really good because it takes the questions seriously and answers them honestly, with great detail, without forgetting BIPOC frustration that comes with having to answer these questions in real life.

Ijeoma Oluo has clearly had to deal with questions relating to race, sex, affirmative action, workplace harassment and equal opportunity in places of work. Her feelings on this topic are always clear – a mix of frustrations, exhaustion and determination – and yet she addresses issues with a level of professionalism I wish I could have when I talk about these sensitive topics in my own life.

I would recommend this book to anyone, even though it IS directed at white people more than anything. As a person of colour, reading this I was able to still learn more about BIPOC struggle and the unfairness that exists in this world. There were times when she explained some of these struggles with such eloquence that I actually felt validated because I related to them as well.

Favourite Quotes

I remember saying once that if I stopped to feel, really feel, the pain of the racism I encountered, I would start screaming and I would never stop.

If you are white, there is a good chance you may have been poor at some point in your life, you may have been sick, you may have been discriminated against for being fat or being disabled or being short or being unconventionally attractive, you may have been many things – but you have not been a person of colour.

I live in a world where if I have a ‘black sounding’ name, I’m less likely to even be called for an interview. Will I equally benefit from raising minimum wages when I can’t even get a job?

We’re still waiting. We’re still hoping. We’re still left behind.


This book is a great place to start if you want to learn about anti-racism. It’s beginner friendly, as Oluo uses tons of examples, anecdotes and straight to the point lists to effortlessly explain more “complicated” topics such as: privilege, systemic discrimination, tone policing, and affirmative action.

Even as someone who reads up on about social justice, I still learnt a lot and I will continue to reference this resource. I highlighted a lot of its passages because she just has such a way with better explaining how I feel when it comes to this discourse or my own experiences.

Favourite Quotes

The realities of race have not always been welcome in my life, but they have always been there.

There is a good chance that you, regardless of race, have tried to have these conversations in the past. There is also a good chance that they have not gone well. So “not well” that perhaps you have been afraid to ever have these conversations again.

We couldn’t talk about the ways in which race and racism impacted my life, because he was unwilling to even acknowledge the racism that was impacting my life and he was unable to prfioritize my safety over his comfort – which meant that we couldn’t talk about me.

Racial oppression should always be an emotional topic to discuss […] But it upsets us because it exists, not because we talk about it.

Discussion Questions (taken from the book)

  1. The chapter about privilege is placed right before the chapter on intersectionality. The author has stated in interviews that she placed those chapters in that order because it is impossible to fully understand intersectionality without first comprehending privilege. How do the concepts discussed in the chapter “Why am I always being told to check my privilege?” help deepen your understanding of intersectionality and help implement intersectionality into your life?
  2. The final chapter, “Talking is great, but what else can I do?,” discusses some actions you can take to battle systemic racism using the knowledge you’ve gained from this book and from your conversations on race. What are some actions you can take in your community, your schools, your workplace, and your local government? What are some local antiracism efforts in your community that you can join or support?

You can pick up a copy here.

Our 2020 Reading Rush TBR

This is the year we are going to join the Reading Rush! We know that we probably won’t be able to read all our picks but fingers crossed!

This is the year we are going to join the Reading Rush! We know that we probably won’t be able to read all our picks but fingers crossed!

Here are the prompts:

1/ Read a book with a cover that matches the colour of your birth stone.
2/ Read a book that starts with the word “The”.
3/ Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen.
4/ Read the first book you touch.
5/ Read a book completely outside of your house.
6/ Read a book in a genre that you’ve always wanted to read more of.
7/ Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.

Alia’s Picks

  1. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
  2. The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne
  3. A Series of Unfortunate Events – The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
  4. Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation by Ari Folman
  5. I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya
  6. A Quick and Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities by Madi G.
  7. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Julia’s Picks

  1. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  3. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
  4. Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson
  5. Thief of Thieves by Robert Kirkman
  6. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath / Romanov by Nadine Brandes
  7. Romanov by Nadine Brandes

What do you plan on reading this week?

Thoughts on Canada Day

When we were younger, Alia and I loved to celebrate Canada Day because of the busyness of downtown Ottawa. Canadian artists! Fireworks! GIANT CROWDS! Nowadays, it’s turned into a reflection on the years of colonial history and systemic racism towards Indigenous peoples that many Canadians still refuse to acknowledge. We have lots of work to do.

This is a great time to diversify your shelves and feeds. We’re currently doing a buddy read of Tanya Talaga’s Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City and it is heartbreaking. And here are some amazing Instagrams to follow: @decolonizefirst, @thunderbirdwomanreads, and @shayla0h.

Learn and educate yourself (AND OTHERS – this is where change happens). The Nipissing University Student Union put together a great infographic that shares Indigenous stories and experiences.

Donate and support Indigenous organizations. Indspire is a charity that supports the education of Indigenous people while the National Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) works to represent and enhance the lives of Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people.

We are proud to be first and second generation Canadians. We are thankful for our parents’ immigration stories. However, if you’re going to celebrate #CanadaDay, be mindful and check your privileges.

June 2020 | Monthly Favourites

Alia’s Picks

Song: Since I’ve been working from home due to COVID-19, it feels like my Spotify is constantly blasting music. I’ve been trying out a bunch of different playlists on Spotify to diversify my playlist but I do have a bad habit to listening to the same song on repeat. This month I’ve been listening to 11:11 by the Arkells. What can I say, I love the indie vibes.

Book: I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. This year I have been trying to listen to more audiobooks since I have a lot of opportunity to listen while doing other tasks, rather than just sitting down and reading. I listened to I’m Still Here as an audiobook and I actually think it added to my experience, since the author is the one who narrates all the chapters. I really enjoyed listening to her as she describes her experience as a black woman growing up and living in America. It was insightful, painful and conveyed in an honest and authentic manner.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

TV Show: Kingdom on Netflix. Everyone has been telling me to watch it for the longest time but I finally watched the first episode the other day and I LOVE IT. I can’t wait to binge watch it on the weekend – it has two seasons and it’s spooky af!

Movie: I recently went through a pretty big Bollywood movie binge on Netflix. I don’t watch Bollywood movies as much anymore but they’ll always have a special place in my heart. One movie that I really like is Jodha Akbaar – a historical romance that details the political marriage between Mughal Emperor Akbar and a Rajput princess Jodha. If you like period pieces that’s heavy on the romance, this is one movie I would definitely recommend!

Game: I’ve played over 200 hours of Animal Crossing New Horizons and I even have the digital game guide LOL So yeah, this is definitely the game of the month. Like obsessed to the point where I even made my own AC Villager stickers! Genji is hanging out on my switch dock now, living his best life.

App: So I don’t tend to add everything I read to Goodreads because I’m lazy LOL but one app I’ve recently started using is Tappytoon Comics. They have a great selection of webtoons and comics. I love it because it also regularly updates with new chapters! It’s also great in terms of usability/design as I can read on my phone or iPad and have a smooth experience.

YouTuber: I’ve been watching booktuber Cindy Pham’s videos a lot this month. I don’t usually watch Booktube videos but I just love her reviews and I think she’s hilarious! There were definitely some great recommendations from her that are now on my TBR and also of course, I love all the videos where she read books that were like??? Why did this plot happen??? I think one my favourite videos from her is about Serpent & Dove. PLEAAAASE do yourself a favour and listen to her ramble.

Julia’s Picks

Song: The 1975’s new album, Notes on a Conditional Form, has been on repeat since it dropped. I didn’t know how much I needed MORE new music from them! When the single “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” first dropped, I absolutely fell in love with it but after reading that Matty was going for a Max Martin x Kanye West vibe on “Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)” I knew this song would slap just as hard. There’s something about this band that keeps on giving musically and I’m here to be fed.

Book: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo was our buddy read earlier this month. You can read our full review here.

TV Show: I finally caught up with (aka binge-watched) The Office (US) and WOW, why’d it take me so long?! I didn’t think I’d get so emotionally attached to these characters but after nine whole seasons… HERE WE ARE! I’ve also started listening to the Office Ladies podcast, hosted by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, because I literally cannot get enough.

Movie: Blindspotting (2018) was one of the movies that Cineplex showcased as part of their “Understanding Black Stories” initiative. Alia mentioned that it was one of her favourite movies of 2018 so I obviously had to give it a go. It’s such a perfect mix of comedy and drama while covering the important topic of police brutality in the Black community. THEN I found out that the main actors also wrote a whole soundtrack for the movie and I was even MORE impressed!

Game: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, duh. Alia and I are huge fans and used to play New Leaf at every chance when we lived together. We are truly spoiled in New Horizons although, I do miss Kapp’n sometimes.

App: I have been loving the Libby app lately. Well, actually it’s like a bittersweet relationship right now because I don’t enjoy reading ebooks on my phone but I also don’t really have a choice since my Kobo has been struggling to register library books lately (and I don’t really feel like resetting the entire thing). Otherwise, the app is really easy to use and is connected to the OverDrive database so you can access audiobooks as well!

YouTuber: Like I said, I’ve been OBSESSED with Animal Crossing and building my island but I also miss the Dream Suite and getting to visit random player’s islands. However, I can live vicariously through Chase Crossing. He just lives his best life while he tours islands and it’s truly awesome seeing how creative people are.