I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

Book, 2018, 185 pp
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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 practise 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 neighbourhoods 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.

"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." —Christina Vortia, School Library Journal

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