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Last Updated on August 3, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 713

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo is a serious look at contemporary racism in the United States. Oluo says,

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These conversations will not be easy, but they will get easier over time. We have to commit to the process if we want to address race, racism, and racial oppression in our society. This book may not be easy as well. I am not known for pulling punches, but I’ve been occasionally thought of as funny. But it has been very hard to be funny in this book. There is real pain in our racially oppressive system, pain that I as a black woman feel. I was unable to set that aside while writing this book. I didn’t feel like laughing. This was a grueling, heart-wrenching book to write, and I’ve tried to lighten a little of that on the page, but I know that for some of you, this book will push and will push hard.

Race and privilege are difficult topics for anyone to discuss, as everyone has a very different experience. In an attempt to start the conversation and give some context for her point of view, Oluo talks about her experiences as a Black woman and what led her to have a more active voice in discussions of race.

One thing that Oluo does is break down how different racially biased systems negatively impact Black people and other people of color. The school-to-prison pipeline is one such system. Oluo writes,

When I look at our school-to-prison pipeline, the biggest tragedy to me is the loss of childhood joy. When our kids spend eight hours a day in a system that is looking for reasons to punish them, remove them, criminalize them—our kids do not get to be kids. Our kids do not get to be rambunctious, they do not get to be exuberant, they do not get to be rebellious, they do not get to be defiant. Our kids do not get to fuck up the way other kids get to; our kids will not get to look back fondly on their teenage hijinks—because these get them expelled or locked away. Do not wait until black and brown kids are grown into hurt and hardened adults to ask “What happened? What can we do?” We cannot give back childhoods lost. Help us save our children now.

Oluo then breaks down many of the problems that lead to the school-to-prison pipeline. For example, the inclusion of school resource officers leads to many more arrests at schools. Another issue is that Black students are more likely to be misdiagnosed with a learning disability in underfunded schools, which removes them from the main classrooms and puts them in special education classrooms where their needs may not be met....

(The entire section contains 713 words.)

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