I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Published by Convergent Books on May 15th, 2018
Genres: Anti-Racist Memoir, Non-Fiction
“This is partly what makes the fragility of whiteness so damn dangerous. It ignores the personhood of people of color and instead makes the feelings of whiteness the most important thing.”
Note: Please check the links at the end of the review in response to what’s going on in the world right now. Remember to educate yourself, and listen and uplift Black voices.
I’ve seen Brown’s books pop up on several lists of recommended books on anti-racism. I’m surprised I hadn’t seen this book being promoted anywhere else until now. But I’m glad I finally read it.
I’m Still Here is a book about how, even in a time when predominantly white institutions (churches, school, universities, etc.) are trying to get it right, there remain many ways in which we are blinded to the realities and effects of racial bias in our midst.
As someone who has stood in that gap as a leading speaker and practitioner helping churches and faith-based universities to practice genuine ethnic inclusion, Brown shares her experience as a way of holding a mirror up to the failures and blind spots of white culture.
She pinpoints the injustice in us that produces injustice in the world, but also offers up hope that we can all make that world a better place.
The first chapter instantly grabbed my attention. I quickly finished the book after that. I couldn’t put it down.
Brown writes with such conviction. When she wrote about her childhood memories, I felt like I was right there with her experiencing her emotions in that situation.
While I’m not Black, I can certainly relate to her experiences in school and in the workplace where she encountered microaggressions from her white classmates/co-workers.
From the very beginning, Brown shares how she challenges people’s assumptions before they’ve met her. People expect a white man when they see her name on resumes, and then have no idea what to do with the Black woman standing before them.
This is the shadow of hope. Knowing that we may never see the realization of our dreams, and yet still showing up.
Brown outlines that she grew up and has worked in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches. I’m not surprised by her experiences, but it doesn’t make reading this book any less difficult. It’s truly hard to read about how Brown and every Black person has to continually deal with the same racist comments and actions from people.
There are so many chapters that really stood out to me, but I particularly enjoyed reading about how she came to love herself as Black woman, her college trip to a plantation with her classmates that illuminated how the history we are taught is wrong, and the fears that she shares with her husband over their son.
If you are a white reader, I’d pay close attention to the sections in the book that explore the difference between white fragility and how to take full ownership over confronting your own racism.
From the first chapter, Brown says that she finds white people exhausting. AND IT’S EASY TO SEE WHY! I can only imagine the tiredness that comes from a lifetime of existing as a Black woman in white spaces that refuse to acknowledge privilege and internalized racism.
When the sun happens to shine, I bask in the rays. But I know I cannot stay there. That is not my place to stand. So I abide in the shadows, and let hope have its day and its death. It is my duty to live anyway.
The last chapter and the final paragraph is a reflection on hope and hopelessness, which sums up the Black Lives Matter movement, what’s currently going on, and why we need to continue to fight. It shows what a masterful writer Brown is and how powerful her book is.
Please check this book out if you’re looking to educate yourself on racism, microaggressions, and the difficulties facing Black women.
The best resource for ways to help, where you can donate, and protest FAQs: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
If you’re Canadian like I am, please consider donating to these places:
- https://www.rainbowrailroad.org/ (Remember, your feminism isn’t valid until it’s intersectional)
You can find numerous anti-racist book lists, but here’s one that I’ve been referring to: https://bookshop.org/lists/anti-racism
Black Lives Matter.