'So You Want to Talk About Race'

Ijeoma Oluo’s 2018 book “So You Want to Talk About Race” will be the focus of Waunakee Neighborhood Connection’s virtual book discussion on July 23. The book has been receiving renewed attention after the death of George Floyd in May.

Waunakee Neighborhood Connection has announced the start of its Building Connections series, with a book discussion of “So You Want to Talk About Race” to take place virtually July 23.

“It really goes into some of the background about why the Black Lives Matter movement was started,” executive director Lisa Humenik said, “and some of the systemic racism that exists in the country that people may not be aware of if it hasn’t been on their radar up to this point.”

The book was written by Nigerian-American author Ijeoma Oluo and published in January 2018.

Addressing a topic of race in each chapter, the 256-page nonfiction work has received renewed interest over the past month due to the May 25 death of George Floyd while in police custody.

The title entered the New York Times Best Seller list in June, and has remained there ever since.

“With some of the things that have been happening,” Humenik said, “[race] is a popular topic now. But I think it’s always an important topic, and has been an important topic for a long time. So I’m happy to see it come to the forefront.”

Humenik said the July 23 discussion will be the first program in the Building Connections series – a collaborative effort between WNC, Waunakee Public Library and Create Waunakee.

The series has been designed to bring diverse members of the community together, to educate.

“The real purpose of the Building Connections program series is to help people learn about the experiences of others who may have different backgrounds than their own,” Humenik said. “And with all of the recent events around anti-racism, we thought it was best to start with a book which talked about that specifically.”

Humenik said she will be leading the book discussion with a staff member from the library.

WNC’s website has noted that both facilitators are white, as leaders of color are asking that people take responsibility for educating themselves about systemic racism and white privilege.

“The facilitators of this discussion are white,” the WNC website states. “As we have questions about race and racism, we will research answers together to make sure we are learning from the wisdom of Black leaders and other leaders of Color.”

The WNC director suspected every participant will have their own takeaway from the discussion.

“We want to make sure that people have a way to discuss the issues and learn from others in the discussion group,” Humenik said. “And what they take from that will be personal for each person, depending on what point in their journey they are at in their learning about racism.”

Copies of “So You Want to Talk About Race” have been made available at the Waunakee library.

Anyone interested in participating in the July 23 book discussion should register in advance. Visit the Waunakee Neighborhood Connection’s website, waunakeeneighborhood connection.org.

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