I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Austin Channing Brown is one of my favorite follows: I appreciate her perspective so much and have been eager to get her words into my hands in book-length format. The book opens with a story from the library, but it's not a warm and fuzzy one. Austin reveals that her parents named her Austin so that future employers would believe she was a white man, thus opening doors that would typically be closed to a black woman. She writes extensively about how white, middle-class Christians, though well-intentioned, perpetuate racial tensions—and provides guidance on what genuinely effective perspectives and behaviors could actually look like. A great read, important and timely.
From a leading new voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of what it’s like to grow up black, Christian, and female in white America, in this idea-driven memoir about how her determined quest for identity and understanding shows a way forward for us all.
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, 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 practice 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 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.