About Speaking of Race: Why Everybody Needs to Talk about Racism--And How to Do It
A Boston Globe Most Anticipated Fall Book
In this urgently needed guide, the PBS host, award-winning journalist, and author of We Need to Talk teaches us how to have productive conversations about race, offering insights, advice, and support.
A self-described "light-skinned Black Jew," Celeste Headlee has been forced to speak about race--including having to defend or define her own--since childhood. In her career as a journalist for public media, she's made it a priority to talk about race proactively. She's discovered, however, that those exchanges have rarely been productive. While many people say they want to talk about race, the reality is, they want to talk about race with people who agree with them. The subject makes us uncomfortable; it's often not considered polite or appropriate. To avoid these painful discussions, we stay in our bubbles, reinforcing our own sense of righteousness as well as our division.
Yet we gain nothing by not engaging with those we disagree with; empathy does not develop in a vacuum and racism won't just fade away. If we are to effect meaningful change as a society, Headlee argues, we have to be able to talk about what that change looks like without fear of losing friends and jobs, or being ostracized. In Speaking of Race, Headlee draws from her experiences as a journalist, and the latest research on bias, communication, and neuroscience to provide practical advice and insight for talking about race that will facilitate better conversations that can actually bring us closer together.
This is the book for people who have tried to debate and educate and argue and got nowhere; it is the book for those who have stopped talking to a neighbor or dread Thanksgiving dinner. It is an essential and timely book for all of us.
"Celeste Headlee says we cannot go around, over, or under the subject of race in this country. We must go through it--and the way forward is to have conversations. This is simply the best book I've read on how to have those conversations. Unflinchingly honest, exceptionally well-reasoned and researched, there is so much to admire about Speaking of Race. But my very favorite element is the conversations in each chapter, excerpts from Celeste's interviews in which you can glimpse the perspective-changing power of dialogue." -- Angela Duckworth, founder and CEO of Character Lab and New York Times bestselling author of Grit
"This is what America needs: an evidence-based book on race that doesn't divide or polarize. Whether you've been avoiding conversations about race altogether or stumbling your way through them, Celeste Headlee is the ideal teacher. Her goal isn't to make you more comfortable--it's to make you more thoughtful."-- Adam Grant, number one New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
"Powerful and actionable. If you want a less racist world, you must read this excellent book--every page is packed with tools, inspiration, and insight."-- Dolly Chugh, author of The Person You Mean to Be
About our Speakers
Celeste Headlee is an award-winning journalist, professional speaker and the author of We Need To Talk: How To Have Conversations That Matter, and Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving. An expert in conversation, human nature, reclaiming our common humanity and finding well-being, Celeste frequently provides insight on what is good for all humans and what is bad for us, focusing on the best research in neuro and social science to increase understanding of how we relate with one another and can work together in beneficial ways in our workplaces, neighborhoods, communities and homes. She is a regular guest host on NPR and American Public Media and a highly sought consultant, advising companies around the world on conversations about race, diversity and inclusion. Her TEDx Talk sharing 10 ways to have a better conversation has over 23 million total views, and she serves as an advisory board member for ProCon.org and The Listen First Project. Celeste is the recipient of the 2019 Media Changemaker Award. She is the proud granddaughter of composer William Grant Still, the Dean of African American Composers.
Jami Floyd is the Senior Editor for Race & Justice Unit at New York Public Radio. She is also the Legal Editor in the WNYC Newsroom. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @jamifloyd.
Jami was born and raised in New York City and grew up listening to WNYC. She has been a news junkie ever since childhood, when she delivered newscasts for her grandmother from the dining room table. She went on to serve as editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper, ombudsperson for the college newspaper and to DJ for WHRW, the campus radio station at Binghamton University (S.U.N.Y.). At Berkeley Law School, she was served as an associate editor of the California Law Review, where she also published.
In a journalism career that spans two decades, Jami has worked on everything from breaking news, to exclusives, to long-form investigations. Jami has had the opportunity to interview countless news makers, including Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, cited by The New York Times for her barrage of "hard-hitting" questions. Jami still considers her interview with Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers to be her most meaningful.
Until September 2020, served as the weekday host of “All Things Considered.”
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