Book Review: I’m Still Here Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

“White people desperately want to believe that only the lonely, isolated “whites only” club members are racist. This is why the word racist offends “nice white people” so deeply. It challenges their self-identification as good people. Sadly, most white people are more worried about being called racist than about whether or not their actions are in fact racist or harmful.”

Rating: 5/5

Genres: Non-Fiction, Anti-Racist, Social Justice, Memoir,

Warnings: Racism

Book Description (from Goodreads): Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, Austin writes, “I had to learn what it means to love blackness,” a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker and expert who helps organizations practice genuine inclusion.

In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value “diversity” in their mission statements, I’m Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America’s social fabric–from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.

For readers who have engaged with America’s legacy on race through the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Eric Dyson, I’m Still Here is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class, Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the reader to confront apathy, recognize God’s ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness–if we let it–can save us all.

Review: This book is not meant to comfort white people and if you’re white, this will probably make you uncomfortable at times. But change and making fundamental changes to ideas that have been ingrained in white culture is uncomfortable…but it is needed. Owning your white privilege is a hard pill to swallow. Racism is so ingrained in our culture and some of us don’t even realize it. I’m Still Here is written to share the black experience of one women and this is a phenomenal memoir. A short and impactful book, that shows you to never assume what you “think” someone is going through day-to-day.

Austin Channing Brown is a gifted speaker, writer and communicator. She shared stories about how even her name changes and challenges people’s assumptions about her. She shares the micro-aggressions she experiences in an average day. She shares how even places that are “committed” to diversity in the workplace, really have no interest in making the fundamental changes needed to actually be diverse and inclusive.

The most impactful section for me was exploring the difference between white fragility and taking ownership of your own basis and racism. Don’t ignore that, basis and internalized racism is in you and in the people you love. I’ve observed that in my own interactions, we are often so taken aback by being called out for racism that instead of owning it, we retreat into our own white privilege and are offended that someone would tell us…that “it” was racist. This quote really struck me, because it is true. We are so quick to say, “no, I’m not racist” and maybe you aren’t but you have beliefs in stereotypes and ideas that are racist.

“White people desperately want to believe that only the lonely, isolated “whites only” club members are racist. This is why the word racist offends “nice white people” so deeply. It challenges their self-identification as good people. Sadly, most white people are more worried about being called racist than about whether or not their actions are in fact racist or harmful.”

Ask yourself, why have we politicized a movement to stop racism? Why are people offended by the simplicity of Black Lives Matter? Because it challenges your whiteness and the power it has held…If not, really ask yourself why it makes you uncomfortable.

I urge everyone to read this book. Read. Listen. Learn. Educate.

Love,

A

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s