I still remember an event we did together in 2019. It was the second time I saw Ijeoma Oluo enthrall a crowd with an unmatched clarity and conviction, and her mix of seriousness and laugh-out-loud humor, all the while showing a deep and abiding concern for racial justice. She evoked what humanity needs to secure and defend humanity’s needs.
No wonder Oluo has emerged as one of the most admired writers and “Internet yellers” around. During the wave of demonstrations against police violence and racism in 2020, her runaway best seller, So You Want to Talk About Race, educated countless people (I read it for a second time in July). After a mob—incited by white men and led by white men—attacked the U.S. Capitol, her new book, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America, became ever more vital. Oluo’s meeting the time—this movement against white supremacy and systems of oppression. But the question she keeps asking us in her work: Are we?
Kendi is a National Book Award–winning author