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So You Want To Talk About Race

So You Want To Talk About Race

A Frank Conversation About Race

New York Times best-selling author Ijeoma Oluo and Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch of Arkansas State University host a frank and honest exchange about how to discuss race, what talks on race don’t have to be, and practical tools for having hard conversations in Arkansas PBS’s new digital series, “So You Want to Talk About Race,” premiering Wednesday, Jan. 27, at

This conversation was recorded in 2018 during the Arkansas Literary Festival (now the Six Bridges Book Festival.) Given the events in recent years, we are re-sharing this timely conversation.

So You Want To Talk About Race

Oluo’s book "So You Want to Talk About Race" is a jumping off point for thoughtful discourse that examines race in America and guides viewers through many different subjects including privilege, oppression, writing a book about race and more. The series can be watched in 18 short segments by topic.


Toolkit for Talks About Race

Many thanks to “So You Want to Talk About Race” publisher, Seal Press, and author, Ijeoma Oluo, for providing us with a discussion guide for navigating complex conversations about race.

From New York Times Best-Selling Author of “So You Want to Talk About Race,” Ijeoma Oluo:

Over the past year, I’ve received many emails from readers telling me how much they’ve enjoyed this book—how much it has helped them have more productive conversations on race with their friends, family, coworkers, and community members. So it was always with a little amusement that I would read the request that often comes with these emails: do you have a discussion guide?

The need for a discussion guide for this book really hit home when I was speaking at an event in my hometown of Seattle. During the Q&A session, a visibly nervous woman of color stood to ask me a question. Her team at work had chosen my book for their book club, she explained, and they were going to be discussing this book the next week. She was the only person of color on her team. With dread in her voice and eyes watery with unshed tears, she asked me if I had any advice on how to get through what would likely be a very difficult and perhaps harmful discussion for her?

I knew exactly the scenario she was talking about, having lived through it myself many times. Yes, this book will help you talk about race. But what if you want to talk about this book? A well-meaning group of mostly white people who get together to discuss race might very well end up insulting, exploiting, and plain-old exhausting the few people of color in the room in the process. When this happens, the white people in the discussion often leave feeling enlightened and unburdened, while the people of color are left feeling abused.

I do believe that if you are white, this book will help you to avoid harming people of color in discussions of race. I also believe that if you are a person of color, this book will help you feel more confident in your feelings, experiences, and boundaries. Regardless of your color, as you read and discuss the chapters, you will likely experience challenging feelings about race, racism, and the points and opinions I put forth. And if you are discussing this book in a group, and processing it with others, you’ll experience the anger, fear, hurt, and defensiveness together.

So, in order to help increase the productivity of your group discussions and reduce possible harm, here are some suggested guidelines for your gatherings.

Discussion Guide

Download the entire discussion guide here as it appears in "So You Want to Talk About Race."
Download the guide

Last Updated 27 Jan 2021