I'm still here Black dignity in a world made for whiteness

Austin Channing Brown

Book - 2018

The author's first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when her parents told her they named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. She grew up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, and has spent her life navigating America's racial divide as a writer, a speaker, and an expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion. While so many institutions claim to value diversity in their mission statements, many fall ...short of matching actions to words. Brown highlights how white middle-class evangelicalism has participated in the rise of racial hostility, and encourages the reader to confront apathy and recognize God's ongoing work in the world.

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Subjects
Genres
Autobiographies
Nonfiction
Published
New York : Convergent Books [2018]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
185 pages ; 20 cm
ISBN
9781524760854
1524760854
Main Author
Austin Channing Brown (author)
  • White people are exhausting
  • Playing spades
  • The other side of harmony
  • Ain't no friends here
  • Whiteness at work
  • Interlude: Why I love being a black girl
  • White fragility
  • Nice white people
  • The story we tell
  • Creative anger
  • Interlude: How to survive racism in an organization that claims to be antiracist
  • The ritual of fear
  • A God for the accused
  • We're still here
  • Interlude: A letter to my son
  • Justice, then reconciliation
  • Standing in the shadow of hope.
Review by Booklist Reviews

We've seen this before, persistent white refusal to acknowledge structural racism, the softening of America's racist history, and the lone black person as reluctant racism confessor for white colleagues. Now Brown explores racial ignorance within the white church, noting how Christian values of hope, forgiveness, and unconditional love do not seem to apply to black people but instead give "nice white people" a pass on their racism. Brown poignantly describes the death of her cousin in jail, "I had to reject the notion that my cousin's life was somehow less valuable because he did not meet ‘Christian criteria' of innocence and perfection." In contrast, the "Black Jesus" of her home church "understood the accused, the incarcerated, the criminals," and expressed righteous anger towards the corrupt. Brown passionately rejects facile reliance on "hope," stating that "in order for me to stay in this work, hope must die" and "the death of hope gives way to a sadness that heals, to anger that inspires, to a wisdom that empowers me." An eloquent argument for meaningful reconciliation focused on racial injustice rather than white feelings. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Among the most extreme experiences described here by writer and speaker Brown (Christianity Today) are college visits to a plantation and a lynching museum, during which tour guides explained that slaves were happy and better looked after than slaves in other places. On another occasion, a white woman tells her that "I really had no idea that slavery was on purpose." These events and the many mundane brutalities Brown regularly endures make her wonder who is being helped by the idea of racial reconciliation in America. The movement toward diversity and forgiveness, the author points out, too often involves white people seeking credit for recognizing the crimes of the past even as they do nothing to fix things today, and black people being required to provide endless absolution and information while calmly enduring dignity-eroding and rage-inducing injustices. Amid the frankly told, well-written accounts of Brown's daily life as a professional in a Christian organization are "Interludes" that will help black women in her situation, notably "How To Survive Racism in an Organization That Claims To Be Antiracist." VERDICT A must-read for black and white women especially, but of value to everyone.—Henrietta Verma, Credo Reference, Jackson Heights, NY Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this powerful book, Brown is up front about her exhaustion with white people as she meticulously details the experience of being a black woman in modern American society. After explaining that her parents named her Austin so that potential employers would "assume you are a white man," she recreates a typical interview and first few months at a new job: "Every pair of eyes looks at me in surprise.... Should they have known? Am I now more impressive or less impressive?... It would be comical if it wasn't so damn disappointing." In clear prose, she relates anecdotes to shed light on racial injustices that are systematically reinforced by the standards of white society. Brown, a Christian, believes the history of American Christianity is deeply intertwined with race relations and that Christian communities need to play a large role in racial reconciliation. Explaining that change needs to come from acknowledgement of systemic inequalities, Brown calls on readers to live their professed ideals rather than simply state them. Though the writing style can be preachy, Brown's authoritative tone and moving message make this a must-read for those interested in racial justice within the Christian community. (May.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

This incisive memoir takes a penetrating look at race and the Christian faith while providing tools on how to cope with microaggressions and blatant racism. Brown perfectly and succinctly describes the corrosive weight of white supremacy embedded within American institutions, which African Americans and other people of color endure on a daily basis in schools, professional spaces, and places of worship. Brown's experiences and lifelong exploration of racial understanding and reconciliation offer a modern take on the double consciousness first written about by W.E.B. DuBois. From her days in elementary school, often as the only person of color in the room, to speaking on the national stage, Brown's lessons not only give allies the tools to do better but also provide advice for peers and up-and-comings on navigating hostile workplaces, lecture halls, and hearts and minds. This book is laced with gems that make it necessary reading for everyone, regardless of belief or identity. VERDICT Fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me and Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race will find this candid debut edifying and essential.—Christina Vortia, Hype Lit, Land O'Lakes, FL Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The author shares her experiences of growing up black, Christian, and female in white America, exploring the country's racial divide at all levels of society and how overcoming apathy and focusing on God's work in the world can heal persistent divisions.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The author's first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when her parents told her they named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. She grew up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, and has spent her life navigating America's racial divide as a writer, a speaker, and an expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion. While so many institutions claim to value diversity in their mission statements, many fall short of matching actions to words. Brown highlights how white middle-class evangelicalism has participated in the rise of racial hostility, and encourages the reader to confront apathy and recognize God's ongoing work in the world.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • REESE’S BOOK CLUB X HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK 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 UntamedAustin 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.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

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 UntamedAustin 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.