Review: Dear White People by Justin Simien

I can still remember when my son entered kindergarten, and came home so excited on his first day. The first thing he said to me was, “Mommy, I have a BROWN girl in my class!”

The innocent observation by my five-year-old smacked me upside my redneck white girl face. Growing up in a predominantly (at that time) white rural community, I was not as cultured as I held myself to be. My “world view” was out of a narrow window in a mountain town whose populace was, due to lack of sun and pigment, a similar shade to the snow-covered peaks we were able to enjoy four or five months out of the year. In a matter of seconds, my sweet boy had unknowingly called me to the carpet for my white privilege.

The difficult part is that there’s no guidebook on how to navigate this. I wanted to be a responsible parent. I wanted to do the right thing by all people, but in a world full of social injustice, there is no such thing as the “color blind” of the 90s that I grew up in. A cultural shift has occurred where the message was no longer a blanket acceptance and tolerance, but now acknowledgement, respect, and equality, not just for people of other races, but gender identity, sexual preference, religion, and more.

Did I say there’s no guidebook? On the issue of race, there is one now: Dear White People. Here’s the thing, though. Change comes from accepting yourself first, and one thing a lot of people around these parts have a tough time with is admitting that they maybe, just maybe, might have some privilege happening. It doesn’t make you racist to admit that. Acceptance is the first step. Dear White People is the next one.

The truth is that you can get through anything with the ability to laugh at yourself a little. Justin Simien rather eloquently guides you through admitting, accepting and moving forward, all while addressing stereotypes head-on in a matter-of-fact way.

I truly enjoyed this book and the self-reflection that followed. Now I must see the movie! Have you read it? Tell me what you thought in the comment section below.

Published by Simon & Schuster. Support your independent bookstore and pick up a copy today. This post contains affiliate links.

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