“My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
I pride myself in knowing the major observances – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day, National Public Health Week, Pride Month and the ilk. I recently learned there are so many more commemorations that fly below the radar of most people – National Ampersand Day, National Deaf Dog Week, and National Chicken Month, all of which are observed in September. Much to my delight, I found a website that lists all sorts of observances – National Day Calendar.
Today – September 6, 2018 – is National Read a Book Day. According to National Day Calendar, this observance is best commemorated by grabbing a book you are interested in reading then spend the day doing just that. Given today is a workday, and I only learned of this observance a day ago, I do not have the luxury of playing hooky. If I could spend today focused on reading a good book, I would spend it finishing one I have been taking way too long to read – So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo.
Why Oluo’s book? The dust jacket of So You Want to Talk about Race reads, “An actionable exploration of today’s racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that readers of all races need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide.”
She is a native of Seattle – Cascadia’s largest city – a place my spouse Larry and I now call home. Oluo starts the book offering her experiences of being reared in Seattle as a biracial person. She speaks of things about Washington’s economic center that are great and exciting as well as those less than ideal details about which people warned me before Larry and I arrived as new residents. What I have read thus far in her book is very informative – reiterating some things I have come to know and expect over the years, while enlightening me on other viewpoints I never considered.
I am at the point in the book where Oluo discusses her own privilege and how mindful she is of it when responding to everyday life. She dives into the treachery of discussing race in America, guiding us toward being more cognizant of how we approach productively joining the conversation. In her exploration of privilege, Oluo emphasizes how privilege works so powerfully yet completely outside the realm of many people’s conscious thinking.
They shape the way we show-up in the world. Being a man in a society that caters to men more than women. Growing to an admirable height. Acquiring a certain skin tone. Earning a college degree which opens far more doors than would swing ajar if you did not have the luxury or support system needed to successful graduate from college. Of, course this is not an exhaustive list. There are other privileges we all enjoy to some extent – being white is the most lucrative as Oluo articulates in her book.
I look forward to reading the remainder of So You Want to Talk about Race.