Austin Channing Brown, a Black woman purposely given a white man’s name, shares her experience of growing up and living in a world that caters to whiteness. From the daily microaggressions at school and work to the larger, to more overt examples of racism and white supremacy from both individuals and society at large, her account is both personal and familiar.
She shares the daily, deep exhaustion from managing assumptions about herself and her race, from worrying about the safety of those she loves, and from the burdens of being both the Black voice in the room and the balm for white people’s guilt. And yet, she continues to show up and speak out, and she shares why it’s worthwhile to do so, while acknowledging that she may never fully see the fruits of her labor.
This short book is an excellent, eye-opening, and ultimately hopeful book to add to your anti-racist reading list. Brown narrates the audio and I highly recommend it.
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Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, 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 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 helping organizations practice genuine inclusion. In a time when nearly every institution (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claims to value diversity in its mission statement, Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice.
Her stories 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.