Talking about race with your own mom can be hard. Here’s why it’s worth it

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Videos on 2018-05-19 21:53Z by Steven

Talking about race with your own mom can be hard. Here’s why it’s worth it

PBS NewsHour
Public Broadcasting Service
2018-05-15

Judy Woodruff, Host


Ijeoma Oluo

When Ijeoma Oluo got a voicemail from her mom saying that she had had an epiphany about race, Oluo didn’t want to call her back. But, she says, as awful and awkward as the conversation was, she is glad it happened. Oluo shares her humble opinion on why that talk can be so fraught and why it’s so important.

Watch the video and read the transcript here.

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Ijeoma Oluo and Rebecca Carroll on Race and Representation in Journalism

Posted in Audio, Communications/Media Studies, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Justice on 2018-05-18 19:26Z by Steven

Ijeoma Oluo and Rebecca Carroll on Race and Representation in Journalism

Midday on WNYC
WNYC
New York, New York
2018-05-03

Duarte Geraldino, Guest Host

Ijeoma Oluo and Rebecca Carroll discuss the ethics of representation in Sally Kohn’s book, The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity. Oluo and Aminatou Sow take issue with how they were quoted in Kohn’s book, which sets up what they say is an inaccurate dichotomy between their positions. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair about the controversy, Oluo said the real focus should be that “we need to talk about the work that people of privilege should be doing, not how many more ways we can harm ourselves so that our humanity will be seen.”


(L to R) Call Your Girlfriend’s Aminatou Sow, WNYC’s Rebecca Carroll, Nancy’s Kathy Tu, and Ear Hustle’s Nigel Poor speaking at the 2017 Werk It Festival.
(Gina Clyne Photography )

Listen to the discussion here.

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In So You Want to Talk About Race

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Justice, United States on 2018-02-03 03:10Z by Steven

In So You Want to Talk About Race
Seal Press
2018-01-16
256 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781580056779
eBook ISBN-13: 9781580056786

Ijeoma Oluo

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. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.

Oluo is an exceptional writer with a rare ability to be straightforward, funny, and effective in her coverage of sensitive, hyper-charged issues in America. Her messages are passionate but finely tuned, and crystalize ideas that would otherwise be vague by empowering them with aha-moment clarity. Her writing brings to mind voices like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay, and Jessica Valenti in Full Frontal Feminism, and a young Gloria Naylor, particularly in Naylor’s seminal essay “The Meaning of a Word.”

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The Conversation I’ve Been Dreading: Ijeoma Oluo Talks About Race with Her Mom

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2018-01-28 03:17Z by Steven

The Conversation I’ve Been Dreading: Ijeoma Oluo Talks About Race with Her Mom

Literary Hub
2018-01-17

Ijeoma Oluo

‘At this point I’m regretting the invention of the telephone.’

From So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.

When my white mother gave birth to me, and later my brother, in Denton, Texas, she became the subject of a lot of racial commentary in her conservative southern community. But surprisingly, my mother and I had our first really substantive conversation about race late in my life, when I was 34 years old. I was well into my career in writing about culture and social justice and my opinions and identity around race were pretty well documented by then. But the truth is, like many families, our conversations growing up mostly revolved around homework, TV shows, and chores.

While I was growing up, my mother had given the obligatory speeches that all parents of black children must give: don’t challenge cops, don’t be surprised if you are followed at stores, some people will be mean to you because of your beautiful brown skin, no you can’t have the same hairstyle as your friends because your hair doesn’t do that. But those conversations were one-offs that ceased to be necessary once we were old enough to see the reality of race for ourselves.

Having a white mother, my siblings and I likely had even fewer conversations about race than black children raised by black parents, because there was a lot about our lives that our mother’s whiteness made it hard for her to see. My mother loved our blackness as much as was possible for any nonblack person to do, she loved our brown skin, our kinky hair, our full lips, our culture, and our history. She thought we were beauty incarnate…

Read the entire article here.

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Ijeoma Oluo: ‘I am drowning in whiteness’

Posted in Articles, Audio, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2017-10-07 20:47Z by Steven

Ijeoma Oluo: ‘I am drowning in whiteness’

KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio
Seattle, Washington
2017-10-01

Ijeoma Oluo


Seattle writer Ijeoma Oluo
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Hi, I am Ijeoma Oluo, and I am a mixed race black woman who was raised by a white mother in this very white city.

I have a Ph.D. in whiteness, and I was raised in “Seattle nice.” I was steeped in the good intentions of this city and I hate it.

I love this city. I love you guys. Also, I hate it. I really do…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the story (00:10:24) here.

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I couldn’t escape Rachel Dolezal because I can’t escape white supremacy.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-04-20 03:16Z by Steven

I couldn’t escape Rachel Dolezal because I can’t escape white supremacy. And it is white supremacy that told an unhappy and outcast white woman that black identity was hers for the taking. It is white supremacy that told her that any black people who questioned her were obviously uneducated and unmotivated to rise to her level of wokeness. It is white supremacy that then elevated this display of privilege into the dominating conversation on black female identity in America. It is white supremacy that decided that it was worth a book deal, national news coverage, and yes—even this interview.

Ijeoma Oluo, “The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black,” The Stranger, April 19, 2017. http://www.thestranger.com/features/2017/04/19/25082450/the-heart-of-whiteness-ijeoma-oluo-interviews-rachel-dolezal-the-white-woman-who-identifies-as-black.

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The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-04-19 16:37Z by Steven

The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black

The Stranger
2017-04-19

Ijeoma Oluo


Rajah Bose

I’m sitting across from Rachel Dolezal, and she looks… white. Not a little white, not racially ambiguous. Dolezal looks really, really white. She looks like a white woman with a mild suntan, in box braids—like perhaps she’d just gotten back from a Caribbean vacation and decided to keep the hairstyle for a few days “for fun.”

She is also smaller than I expected, tiny even—even in her wedge heels and jeans. I’m six feet tall and fat. I wonder for a moment what this conversation might look like to bystanders if things were to get heated—a giant black woman interrogating a tiny white woman. Everything about Dolezal is smaller than expected—the tiny house she rents, the limited and very used furniture. Her 1-year-old son toddles in front of cartoons playing on a small television. The only thing of real size in the house seems to be a painting of her adopted brother, and now adopted son, Izaiah, from when he was a young child. The painting looms over Dolezal on the living-room wall as she begins to talk. I try to get my bearings and listen to what she’s trying to say, but for the first few moments, my mind keeps repeating: “How in the hell did I get here?”

I did not want to think about, talk about, or write about Rachel Dolezal ever again. While many people have been highly entertained by the story of a woman who passed herself off for almost a decade as a black woman, even rising to the head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, before being “outed” during a TV interview by KXLY reporter Jeff Humphrey as white, as later confirmed by her white parents, I found little amusement in her continued spotlight. When the story first broke in June 2015, I was approached by more editors in a week than I had heard from in two months. They were all looking for “fresh takes” on the Dolezal scandal from the very people whose identity had now been put up for debate—black women. I wrote two pieces on Dolezal for two different websites, mostly focused not on her, but on the lack of understanding of black women’s identity that was causing the conversation about Dolezal to become more and more painful for so many black women.

After a few weeks of media obsession, I—and most of the other black women I knew—was completely done with Rachel Dolezal.

Or, at least I hoped to be…

Read the entire interview here.

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How My White Mother Helped Me Find My Blackness

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-09-04 01:25Z by Steven

How My White Mother Helped Me Find My Blackness

The Establishment
2016-08-31

Ijeoma Oluo, Editor at Large


The author (left) with her sister, uncle, brother, and mother

“Hold still.”

“Mom, you’re hurting me!”

“I am not. Hold still or your headwrap won’t look right.”

“I don’t want to wear the headwrap. It looks weird. Everyone will laugh at me!”

“What kind of African are you??”

I looked up at my white mom as she tugged on the gele around my head, and tried very hard not to roll my eyes…

Read the entire article here.

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Matthew McConaughey Can’t Stop Being a Badass White Savior in The Free State of Jones

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, Slavery, United States on 2016-06-26 17:48Z by Steven

Matthew McConaughey Can’t Stop Being a Badass White Savior in The Free State of Jones

The Stranger
2016-06-22

Ijeoma Oluo


Watch the magical negroes heal Matthew McConaughey from his wounds that he received while badassing his way into exile.

Ever since the end of the first season of True Detective I’ve really been wanting more Matthew McConaughey in my life. That charming half-smile. That creepy, hyper-intense stare. That unmistakable yet unplaceable southern drawl. I don’t care if it’s laid-back, bongo drumming alright-alright-alright McConaughey, or if it’s riddle-speaking, indecipherable, slightly creepy, brooding McConaughey. I need more Matthew McConaughey.

You know what else I need? Black pain and suffering. I need another movie focused on the brutalization of black bodies filtered through a Hollywood lens. I need the only faces on the screen that look like mine to be crying, screaming, or slack from the noose.

It used to be that I’d have to separate these much-needed experiences of McConaughey and black pain. Dazed and Confused on Monday, The Help on Tuesday. Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past on Wednesday, 12 Years a Slave on Thursday.

But what if you could have it all? What if you could have slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, black pain, black murder, black suffering – and more Matthew McConaughey than you ever thought imaginable?

Dreams can come true. And they have come true in this 139 minute masterpiece of McConaughey-ness: The Free State of Jones

Read the entire review here.

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Personally, as a biracial American, I prefer to be identified as such. …Ijeoma Oluo, who is also biracial, prefers to identify as black. Neither of us are wrong.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-11-27 02:31Z by Steven

The controversy has stirred up fresh debate about the divisive issue of biracial self-identification—a divisiveness I, and many other mixed-race people, have experienced firsthand. Personally, as a biracial American, I prefer to be identified as such. But my Establishment colleague, Ijeoma Oluo, who is also biracial, prefers to identify as black.

Neither of us are wrong.

Jessica Sutherland, “Taye Diggs Isn’t Wrong (Or Right) About His Son’s Biracial Identity,” The Establishment, November 20, 2015. http://www.theestablishment.co/2015/11/20/taye-diggs-isnt-wrong-about-his-biracial-identity-and-neither-are-you/.

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