The Women's Issue

Ijeoma Oluo: Seattle, You're Not Mad Enough

The author and activist isn't afraid to yell (and she wants you to join).

By Allison Williams January 31, 2018 Published in the February 2018 issue of Seattle Met

Selects 010 fou 9371 ilpk5b

Image: Amber Fouts

“Writer. Speaker. Internet Yeller.” It’s right there on Ijeoma Oluo’s business cards, so no one should be surprised that her Twitter voice is blunt enough to call out social injustice or take the white electorate to task. 

Oluo’s yells are hardly that of an incoherent internet ranter. Her first book, So You Want To Talk About Race, debuted in January, thoughtfully breaking down privilege and intersectionality alongside, yes, jokes. A self-proclaimed “antisocial nerd” who has been a single parent for most of her adult life, Oluo helped launch The Establishment, a woman-run news and opinion site where she’s an editor-at-large.

She’s not here for progressive self-congratulation: White locals, she says, don’t see how hostile the city is to people of color. She calls out how white Seattle ignores local problems—homelessness, poverty—that it would condemn anywhere else: “People would be outraged and feel good about themselves for being outraged,” she says. Here? Crickets.

It takes seeing beyond a good-bad binary, she says, accepting complicity without spiraling into a defense of our own good intentions. It’s a tall order, but “if I wasn’t optimistic I wouldn’t be able to do this,” says the internet yeller. As self-care, she breaks up essay writing with makeup experiments: “You can’t think of how awful the world is while you’re trying to make a rainbow on your eyes, you know.”

Show Comments