There have been so many excellent (and some not-so-excellent) books written about racism, how to be an antiracist, and diversity and inclusion. Many of us have been in trainings, whether through work or community opportunities, to inspire and instill in us an understanding of structural racism and power dynamics. But even while we may have come to have a basic understanding of these concepts, few books lay out the tools of how to be an ally and/or to stay in a growth mindset in such a practical, non-judgmental and concrete way as Yoshino and Glasgow have done here in Say the Right Thing. In addition, the advice here is generalizable to all non-dominant groups – not just racial groups. And, as they point out, almost every one of us may find ourselves in a situation where we are the culprits engaging in non-inclusive behavior, and later be either at the receiving end of it or as an ally. Through vivid vignettes, humble stories about themselves, and relevant research concepts, we are given advice on how to handle each of these scenarios.
What I appreciate most about the writing here is the humility with which the authors share this essential information. While they are both highly qualified to be writing this book – both are attorneys, educators, and come from non-dominant communities – they also acknowledge their own privileges and that we all may fall into spaces of privilege relative to others. Their focus, therefore, is not how to understand the position of the “other” but rather to understand our own obligation to react appropriately when issues arise. We are obligated to check our own reaction if we are challenged by someone about an act we may commit – even unwittingly – and to keep ourselves open to learning how to do better always. They also acknowledge how hard this can be, as almost always our unwitting acts are not with evil intent. But of course, good intent does not preclude harm.
It is an easy read, full of concrete suggestions, and utterly important in this moment of divisiveness and fracture – when communication is essential and understanding is the key to bringing this country back together.
Another MUST READ, I believe.