NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK • From a leading voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female that exposes how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals.
“Austin Channing Brown introduces herself as a master memoirist. This book will break open hearts and minds.”—Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Untamed
Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools and churches, Austin writes, “I had to learn what it means to love blackness,” a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker, and expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion.
In a time when nearly every institution (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claims to value diversity in its mission statement, Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice. Her stories bear witness to the complexity of America’s social fabric—from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.
For readers who have engaged with America’s legacy on race through the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Eric Dyson, I’m Still Here is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class, Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the reader to confront apathy, recognize God’s ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness—if we let it—can save us all.
Haven’t read it yet
In reading the initial introduction of what this book is about, I immediately noticed parallels with myself: I just earned my degree in Communications with a Concentration on Professional Writing because I love writing. I am a woman and I am black. Most of all I had received job interviews only to literally be told to my face “Your name is Carol from Ferndale?!? I thought you were white, the position has been filled!” Because I lived in a predominantly white city with that name. This situation has become increasingly ubiquitous as there have been proven studies from various universities throughout America that black sounding names on resumes are often discriminated against. It was proven that names like Brad and Amy were quick to get call backs than Nakeisha and Jamal, there resumes get pitched. So what this author experienced is what I have experienced. I cannot wait to read the book in its entirety.
Not all bad things are racist.
Unfortunately yes, there are elements of racism in America. There are racist people. This author however sees the opposite. America is racist. White people are racist, and perhaps some elements of non racists exist. This author sees racism and sexism in every negative altercation with a white person. Somehow as a Christian she manages to judge the heart of every human that has been awkward or rude to her. No grace for a mean person, a miscommunication, surprise or any other possibility- no it’s bigotry or racism. However she condemns whites for assuming the worst in any of HER actions - and of course that’s anti black racism for doing so. As much as she stereotypes white people (only sometimes using “some” or “most” but usually white people in totality) it’s hard to get around her own racism. She “found pride in her blackness.” Well it’s on full display here. Any disagreement (white fragility chapter- white male strongly and perhaps rudely argued with her take on an issue) is immediately discounted since she’s black and they are not. It must be because she’s a female, black, and the teacher and he can’t handle that. Really? How did you know he just didn’t disagree with you strongly? Because he then asked, “whose really in charge here?” Ever not gotten the answer you’re looking for and and wanted the manager? That racist? No but for you- totally. All are wrong because they are of white and you are black so they are cancelled, that’s called black privilege. I have strongly disagreed with others on similar cases, but both being the same color somehow it was not racist but a strong disagreement. How many times the author describes people surprised at finding a black woman when they expected a white man because her name is Austin? All of this is evidence of racism. A person EXPECTING a white man due to a name usually used with white culture does not mean the person PREFERS a white man. The awkwardness or silence or surprise when meeting you is because many want to be as respectful and NOT RACIST as possible when reacting. A little bit of walking on eggshells so as not to offend. Too late because you already judged them. The librarian asking you as a 7 year old if that really your library card? That was a huge racist moment for you. But what evidence? I would have done the same, because your name didn’t fit and that’s cultural confusion, not racism and you are 7. So excuse talking to you like you are a little kid. Cuz you were. My wife’s name is Lebron, and she’s white. I can’t tell you the confusion that comes from that. (Not really but you get the point. Now, there are a few things in here that are bad, and I would fight with her against those racist things if they happened again. But, a lot of examples are her seeing the world expecting and therefore seeing racism at every turn. Her parents didn’t help by instilling that “they” will do this and “they” will do that. “They” being white people. This isn’t your parents America. I’ve taught my kids not to put their hands in their pockets in stores, guess what? It’s not a black thing! And all the racial profiling of your cousin being pulled over and searched so many times, after you mentioned he was a drug dealer?? Sounds like they were right?! If you’ve ever seen anyone lose their battle with drugs, you’d maybe not condemn the institution that locked him up so much. Shame on your light hearted view on that. He had three chances to straighten out before prison. Christ is mentioned a few times which, as a fellow believer, is awesome. However all evil is placed on the shoulders of whites and America. No mention of the spiritual warfare we are fighting as well. Evil. Satan, lies. Also, at work someone touched her hair admiring it. She equates this to mean something along the lines of white peoples belief in the right TO HER BODY. What? All the times people reached out and touched my gelled spiked hair when I was younger... life is tough, tough to share with other humans, tough to navigate. It’s hard enough before making it all about race. I’ve had so many experiences similar to hers and race wasn’t there. I truly think she brings it with her. There’s no giving others the benefit of the doubt. “Ain’t no friends here..” is quoted so many times after an example, but I think she has begun living by that and it’s her lens on everything before it happens. That creates a negative bias. And discussion would have been good on perhaps class differences, and CULTURAL DIFFERENCES. Those are not, it’s as if they are non existent. It’s all racist. Cultural differences aren’t bad things. Black and whites do some stuff or enjoy some stuff differently, as you point out in music and church. Great! To each their own. Black Jesus or white Jesus so long as Jesus finds his way in! She should have a glass if wine and relax a bit. Stop believing what you see on the news is true for all. “Blacks dying in the streets.” She uses no facts no data. Just “her truth.” Well if all, or most, whites are racist, then all or most blacks are looters. Cuz that’s what the news showed. You see I don’t believe that. But, if I saw the world from your perspective of the media’s racial narrative.... also no discussion of black on black deaths. She has worked in Chicago. I’ve been targeted as white in Chicago. (And by the way I took that to mean THOSE blacks people were racist, not all black people are racist) But she avoids that violence. Avoids anything blacks could do to help change. Its all about whites, we are “so exhausting.” So, if you are white“ ain’t no friends here...” Even if you are a “nice white person.” There’s a chapter for you. Now, she could read my review and say as the author over the reader, “yup, white fragility here!” Well, that’s her “black privilege.”
This had me tearing up at the end. I love hearing a black womans voice read about bettering your life and how to change your perspective. I love the name Austin as well.
Worth the read