In Tell Me Who You Are, Priya Vulchi and Winona Guo do exactly that--tell us who they are, how they have come to thinking so carefully, so deeply about race, and how they want to create change. From Alaska to Florida they visit all fifty of these United States to talk to people about their experiences of race and the intersections of identity in America. This book is at once hopeful, raw, and brimming with curiosity, engagement and youthful energy. Through the conversations these women have with people from all walks of life, we see that the key to any kind of progress begins with letting people tell us who they are. If you want to have richer, more fruitful discussions about race, gender, all the things that comprise our identities, this book will give you a necessary vocabulary. All you have to do is turn the page.”
--Roxane Gay New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Difficult Women
“This is an exploration of race in America by two young women who are earnestly challenging their own assumptions, and encouraging the rest of us to do the same. If you’re a young person who wants to be part of our national conversation on race but doesn’t know where to start, this book is an engaging launching point.”
--Cecilia Muñoz, former Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for President Obama and Senior Vice President at the National Council of La Raza (now UNIDOS US), the nation’s largest Hispanic policy and advocacy organization
“This is a critical book for current times where we are seeing a resurgence of nationalism, racism, sexism and authoritarianism globally. Better communication and understanding, particularly among the next generation, is the key to humanizing the unfamiliar and countering identity politics. Kudos Priya and Winona for your vision, your journey and the honesty and respect with which you tackle diverse stories from across the country."
--Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director of Equality Now
"From the moment these two remarkable young women took the TEDWomen stage as high school seniors to talk about their commitment to have a real conversation about race, I knew their work would be a game changer in the conversation about race in this country…and Tell Me Who You Are is just that—the outcome of an extraordinary journey from the wealthiest neighborhoods to the poorest reservations and communities to find out more about who we all are."
--Pat Mitchell, former President of CNN Productions and the first woman President and CEO of PBS
“I’m truly astonished by the vision, audacity, and leadership of Winona Guo + Priya Vulchi to compile these amazing stories from over 150 Americans. These girls are the antidote to the notion that this generation is apathetic. In fact, they are our thought leaders and have proven to be dynamic change-makers! It takes enormous courage to confront the cracks in our humanity and hold space for such diverse stories.
Tell Me Who You Are is exactly what our country needs right now. In these divisive times, two young women have managed to create a tangible catalyst for compelling and necessary conversation, by doing something truly radical: Listening. Deeply.
--Monique Coleman, actress, Global Youth Advocate, CEO of Motivated Productions
“While we know a lot about racial literacy, the work that Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi have accomplished in Tell Me Who You Are brings life to this concept. They are magical in weaving in the stories of everyday folks’ racial traumas and triumphs and force us to question the way we see the world. They encourage us to stop assuming we understand racial, gender, sexual, age and ability biases and open our eyes. They implore us to be more than spectators or witnesses, ignorant of the broken racial promises right in front of us and speak to that loss. This work is a call for not just talking about social justice but doing random acts of justice everyday. Be careful. If you want your racial justice neatly packaged into the “saying the right thing” or “avoiding the wrong thing to say,” go elsewhere. But if you want to become fluid in how to keep the racial justice promises we make to people who are different in this society, read on.”
--Howard Stevenson, Ph.D., Director of Forward Promise, Racial Empowerment Collaborative, Constance E. Clayton, Professor of Urban Education, University of Pennsylvania
“Brave. Bold. Insightful. This book not only offers insight into how we think and do race, it is a testament to what this generation can do to fundamentally transform our world. The reader can’t help but feel the energy, passion and commitment of these two brilliant young women.”
--Eddie S. Glaude Jr., James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, Chair, African American Studies, Princeton University
Two young women collect stories about race from a diversity of voices.
Before they started college, Guo and Vulchi spent a gap year traveling across the country asking 150 people the same question: "How has race, culture, or intersectionality impacted your life?" "The responses," they write in their startling, moving, and revealing debut book, "were astonishing," giving eloquent voice to the meaning of intersectionality: the many "overlapping parts" of any individual's identity, including race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, nationality, ability, age, and physical appearance. Equally astonishing are the sophistication and insight that the authors bring to their collection. By the time they embarked on their research, they were already impressively knowledgeable about race; they had founded CHOOSE (princetonchoose.org) "as a platform for racial literacy," on which they shared stories from interviewees in the Princeton area; they had spoken at schools; and they had given a TED talk. Their yearlong investigation deepened and widened their perspective. They listened to people who grew up in racist families, some whose parents threw them out for being gay or transgender. Many encountered virulent racism: Traveling with her predominantly black softball team to a city that was home to the Ku Klux Klan, one woman recalls her fear at spending the night in a hotel. The next morning, the team left without stopping for breakfast. A Creole woman in New Orleans discusses the lifetime of secrecy experienced by light-skinned blacks who decide to cross the color line and pass as white. A Japanese-American tells about her family's internment for 4 years during World War II. "We accepted our way of life just because, culturally, we're very obedient citizens," she said, adding, "I still feel that America is the best country that we could be in." Besides the revelatory stories, the authors provide informative introductions, annotations, and a rubric for talking about identities. Clearly, they hope this volume will lead to social change. As one young Asian woman remarks, "research papers and big words aside, what are you doing to shake things up?"
A stirring, inspiring collection.