Speaking of Race: Why Everybody Needs To Talk About Racism—And How To Do It

Harper Wave. Nov. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9780063098152. $27.99. SOC SCI
How do we talk about racism? Is it possible to talk about it without the conversation becoming an argument? Journalist and author Headlee (We Need To Talk: How To Have Conversations That Matter) believes it is possible, and her new book provides pathways for those looking to discuss racism. Headlee (self-described as a light-skinned Black Jew) argues that all people have biases. Using scientific and personal examples, the author theorizes that in order to educate each other, people should point out instances of racism or bias but avoid name-calling or accusing. Instead, she emphasizes that conversations should be based on questions that do not pass judgement (e.g., “why do you say that?” or “what makes you think that?”), and taking time to thoughtfully listen to and consider the answers. For Headlee, this is a method of accountability that might not change a person’s beliefs but could open the door to deeper understanding. Throughout the book, she presents examples of conversation pieces, open-ended questions, and possible outcomes.
VERDICT Headlee has created an informative, enjoyable book that functions as part-memoir, part-guidebook to having conversations about racism. A must-read for everyone.
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