I'm Still Here
Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
- Austin Channing Brown
August 8, 2020
Goodreads Book Blurb:
From a powerful new voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America.
Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, 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, organizations, 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 who helps organizations practice genuine inclusion.
In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value “diversity” in their mission statements, I’m Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that 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.
The death of hope gives way to a sadness that heals, to anger that inspires, to a wisdom that empowers me the next time I get to work, pick up my pen, join a march, tell my story.
I’m Still Here was a fascinating read, and I would highly recommend it. It provides actionable directions, and though it is based in the United States, I find it would be relevant in many countries.
Austin Channing Brown is an excellent writer and storyteller; she tackles massive themes and makes them approachable and relatable. Confrontational and welcoming, she forces you to face your perceptions and question them without alienating the reader. This obviously comes from a lifetime of being forced to be different, but not too different, of being the proof of a company’s diversity while not being allowed to be diverse.
I would recommend this book to everyone. It’s the first time I’ve highlighted passages on my kindle and included quotes in a review, and there are so many I could put here. I found it inspiring and actionable at the same time, which is rare. And coming from someone who usually avoids overtly religious themes, I genuinely believe everyone could get something out of this book.
The march towards change has been gruelling, but it is real.
Everyone should do their part and be involved in this march; reading this book can help contribute to this movement.