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I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World of Whiteness is a book that white people need to read. Especially if you consider yourself a Christian. It’s important because we need to understand what it is like to live each day as a Black person in white organizations and institutions so that we can change our thoughts and behavior and evolve.
In her memoir, Austin Channing Brown shares her experience of growing up, going to school & to college, going to church, and working as a Black woman in a white world. I’ll admit to feeling tired just reading it because it was so difficult to read about how she has been treated. And as someone with Christian roots, I felt deeply ashamed and sickened to learn that this is how many white “Christians” treat Black people.
The author describes the mental and emotional labor involved in getting hired and working for white organizations that claim they want a diverse staff and are anti-racist but act the opposite; the daily micro-aggressions that she experiences; the strategies she sets up in order to protect herself; how the feelings of white co-workers must be catered to so they will always feel good around her. And on and on.
This is not a feel-good book. It’s an opportunity for white people like myself to listen to and learn more about the Black experience of living in the U.S. And as the author says, to not end with dialogue and mere conversation, but to act on what we learn.
“Reconciliation is the pursuit of the impossible — an upside-down world where those who are powerful have relinquished that power to the margins. It’s reimagining an entirely different way of being with one another. Reconciliation requires imagination. It requires looking beyond what is to what could be. It looks beyond intentions to real outcomes, real hurts, real histories. How just, how equitable can our efforts be? What would it take to enact reparations, to make all things right?” (p. 171 &172)
I highly recommend I’m Still Here I hope you’ll put it on your TBR and read it soon.