I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh my, this book is good. Austin Channing Brown’s memoir of growing up and living in America is beautiful, strong, honest, heartbreaking and encouraging. She talks about issues of race, racism, white supremacy, white fragility, and white guilt, as well as the beauty and power of Black women and Blackness as a whole. I feel a little uncomfortable writing a review because I felt like this book was written for Black women specifically, but the book was so moving and so important that I want to talk about it and have everyone I know read it.
As a white girl, there were a lot of parts of the book that I felt uncomfortable and even defensive. I would find myself saying that I wasn’t like that (I’ve never skied or sailed in my life), and when whiteness was described as evil or hateful, I would get uncomfortable. But then, she talked about the stereotypes that Black people have to endure. That they have to be perfect or live up to the expectations of the white people in the room or they would be labeled as disrespectful, violent, underachievers, thugs. And I realized how much more they deal with just walking into the room than I have to.
Her writing is engaging. It’s a book that could be easily read in a few hours. The interludes between some of the chapters were beautiful. The letter to her son had me in tears. I have a son of my own, and the hopes and dreams we have for our children are the same. But I don’t have the same worries. It really prompts me to be intentional with my son as I raise him to resist and fight the ugliness and racism that is the undercurrent in our society, to stand up for those around him and use what power he has in his life to lift up the marginalized and oppressed.
There isn’t any harsh profanity that I can remember in the book. No sexual content, though she does talk about black bodies being used or abused in society in a multitude of ways. There isn’t any explicit violence, though there is one death in particular that she mentions and a trip to a lynching museum which was poignant and the conversation that came out of that trip is a necessary read.
Overall, everyone should read this book. That is all.