Title: I’m Still Here – Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Author: Austin Channing Brown
Published by: Convergent Books, New York, 2018
I knew this book was going to be powerful when I read the Table of Contents. The first chapter is entitled, “White People Are Exhausting.” I had to smile when I read that and then kept scanning until my eyes caught other chapter titles such as, “Whiteness and Work” and “White Fragility.”
Those of you who already feel uncomfortable, stick with me here! Lest you think this is a negative book, the author very much affirms that people genuinely love her, even those who commit common offenses based on deeply engraved patterns of thought and perception. She has spent much of her professional career working within Christian organizations to educate people and fight against the marginalization of our Black brothers and sisters.
The book is a memoir. It is very much a story of her indubitably normal experience as a Black girl, growing into a Black, professional woman in America. It’s an easy, enjoyable read that I recommend to everyone. If you are White and have very few African-American friends, this is a good entry-level book. If you are White and live, work, and worship in a multi-racial environment, there are many powerful reminders and new insights to help you continue in your journey of respecting and valuing Black voices. If you are Black, I imagine this will be a refreshing read that makes you want to commend the author for sharing her voice and bringing attention to the daily experiences of being Black in America.
A few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“There was more than what I knew or could learn from a textbook; more than what whiteness said was right.” (Brown, 2018)
“I fell in love with a Jesus who saw the poor and sick and hurting, a Jesus who had bigger plans for me than keeping me a virgin, a Jesus who loved and reveled in our Blackness.” (Brown, 2018)
“It’s not enough to dabble at diversity and inclusion while leaving the existing authority structure in place. Reconciliation demands more.” (Brown, 2018)
“And so hope for me has died one thousand deaths. I hoped that friend would get it, but hope died. I hoped that person would be an ally for life, but hope died. I hoped that my organization really desired change, but hope died.” (Brown, 2018)
Conclusion: This book is a must read!