Ijeoma Oluo

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Date: 2018
Document Type: Biography
Length: 718 words

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About this Person
Born: December 30, 1980 in Denton, Texas, United States
Nationality: American
Occupation: Writer
Other Names: Jacobson, Ijeoma
Updated:Dec. 4, 2018

Born 1980, in Denton, TX; daughter of Samuel Lucky Onwuzip Oluo and Susan Jane Hawley; married Chad R. Jacobson, 2001 (divorced, 2005); children: two. Education: Western Washington University, B.A., 2007. Addresses: Home: Seattle, WA.


Writer and speaker. Editor-at-large for the Establishment website. Previously worked in technology and digital marketing.


Feminist Humanist Award, American Humanist Society, 2018.



  • So You Want to Talk about Race, Seal Press (New York, NY), 2018.

Also author of The Badass Feminist Coloring Book, self-published, 2015. Contributor of articles to publications and websites, including Time, New York, London Guardian, Stranger, Elle, Washington Post, Jezebel, XOJane, Huffington Post, and NBC News.



Ijeoma Oluo is a writer and speaker based in Seattle, Washington. She is best known for her work on topics such as race and gender. Oluo has written articles that have appeared in publications and on websites, including Time, New York, London Guardian, Stranger, Elle, Washington Post, Jezebel, XOJane, and theHuffington Post. She is the editor-at-large for the Establishment website.

In 2018, Oluo released her first book, So You Want to Talk about Race. In this volume, she describes growing up black with a single white mother, which give her a unique perspective on the obliviousness many Americans have in regard to racism. Oluo offers tips to readers on how to engage in meaningful dialogue on race.

In an interview with Margo Vansynghel, a contributor to the City Arts website, Oluo explained how she came to write the book: "So many people reached out to me because they were struggling with talking about race. The recurring theme was that you can get deep in these discussions without really knowing what you are talking about, like affirmative action or police brutality. With this book, I created a safe space where I explain these topics and how to talk about them without being coddling. I'm hoping that people will use it as a toolbox with very concrete tips." Regarding her goals for the book, Oluo told Evette Dionne, a writer on the Bitch Media website: "I really wanted to set aside some of the roadblocks that society has put in place in that conversation. Sometimes, we think we're bad at talking about race because there's something wrong with us or there's something wrong with the topic of race. But the truth is that society has deliberately placed these fallacies and roadblocks in these conversations to make them more difficult." Oluo continued: "There's a reason why when we think of racists, we only think about KKK men on horses who are burning crosses. That's because real, genuine conversations about race change systems, and people are invested in those systems." Oluo also told Dionne: "It's important that people realize that they haven't been given the dialogue [to talk about race]. It has been deliberately kept from them, so they don't have a full understanding of what we're talking about and how to approach it. I really wanted to update this conversation and take it out of the realm of Good Person vs. Bad Person. Nothing will teach you more about good people and bad people not really existing than taking a hard look at how race functions in society."

So You Want to Talk about Race received favorable reviews. A Kirkus Reviews critic described the volume as "feisty" and called it "a clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation." Of Oluo, a writer in Publishers Weekly remarked: "She's insightful and trenchant but not preachy, and her advice is valid." Tiffeni Fontno, contributor to Library Journal, described So You Want to Talk about Race as "a timely and engaging book that offers an entry point and a hopeful approach." Reviewing the volume on the Seattle Stranger website, Deepa Bhandaru suggested: "Oluo's book is one of the few guiding lights to emerge in our post-election landscape, a primer whose goal isn't to call out the 'bad' white people and console the 'good' ones, but to raise the bar for all of us committed to equality and justice." Bhandaru added: "In an era when the public sphere can so quickly explode into anger, even violence, the way we talk matters. People's life chances hang in the balance of our political discourse, and Oluo's book shows us how we might swing that balance toward justice--one conversation at a time."




  • Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2017, review of So You Want to Talk about Race.
  • Library Journal, December 1, 2017, Tiffeni Fontno, review of So You Want to Talk about Race, p. 111.
  • Publishers Weekly, November 13, 2017, review of So You Want to Talk about Race, p. 54.


  • Bitch Media, https://www.bitchmedia.org/ (January 18, 2018), Evette Dionne, author interview.
  • City Arts, http://www.cityartsmagazine.com/ (December 28, 2017), Margo Vansynghel, author interview.
  • Elle Online, https://www.elle.com/ (January 11, 2018), article by author.
  • Guardian Online, https://www.theguardian.com/ (April 12, 2018), author profile.
  • Humanist, https://thehumanist.com/ (February 5, 2018), Jennifer Bardi, author interview.
  • Ijeoma Oluo Website, http://www.ijeomaoluo.com (April 12, 2018).
  • KUOW Online, http://kuow.org/ (October 1, 2017), article by author.
  • Literary Hub, https://lithub.com/ (January 17, 2018), article by author.
  • Pacific Standard Online, https://psmag.com/ (February 22, 2018), Chinelo Nkechi Ikem, author interview.
  • Rewire News, https://rewire.news/ (January 12, 2018), Anjali Enjeti, author interview.
  • Seattle Stranger Online, https:// www.thestranger.com/ (February 7, 2018), Deepa Bhandaru, review of So You Want to Talk about Race.*


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Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000328970