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Mediocre Book Review

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America was an uncomfortable book to read. And that was kind of the point.

I’ve read some of Ijeoma Oluo’s work in the past, and she continued her track record of thoughtful, well-researched exploration of how we got into the difficult situations in which we find ourselves and the ways that we can right some of the wrongs of our past. What made her 2020 work so hard was the compulsion to get myself out from the microscope. I didn’t want to be included amongst the racist, insensitive, misogynistic behaviors that might have gotten us to this mess. But, so often, when individuals aren’t willing to look at the reality of the situation, nobody takes accountability for the solutions. Oluo discusses the ways in which we can more thoughtfully proceed, and THAT was the reason that readers needed to fight through the discomfort and engage in a conversation about the ways that race and gender have played significant roles in the America we know, and to better dream of what might come next.

I didn’t inherently agree with everything in this book. I don’t know that I agree with EVERYTHING in ANY books. But what was so valuable and important about this read was that it challenged my assumptions about my role in the system and demanded that I evaluate the proper ratio of speaking up and listening to those with the expertise on the subjects in question.

Reading is supposed to push us. It is supposed to make us challenge our basic assumptions and try to continue understand the world in new ways. Oluo did that in impactful fashion with Mediocre. It is well worth the read, especially if it sounds like something that might make you squirm.

4.5 stars


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