ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.



February 2021



Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for:
All the people, but I think white men really need to read and sit with this one.

In a nutshell:
Author Oluo explores the ways in which the elevation of the mediocrity of white men harms everyone (including white men).

Worth quoting:
“What I’m saying is that white male mediocrity is a baseline, the dominant narrative, and that everything in our society is centered around preserving white male power regardless of white male skill or talent.”

“How can white men be our born leaders and at the same time so fragile that they cannot handle social progress?”

“Perhaps one of the most brutal of white male privileges is the opportunity to live long enough to regret the carnage you have brought upon others.”

(That’s just a small sample of what I furiously underlined in the first 30 pages of the book. It’s SO GOOD.)

Why I chose it:
Ijemoa Oluo is an excellent writer. I loved her first book, and knew I needed to read this one. Due to living in the UK and different release dates (and our impatience and attempt to secure a copy from the US) we now have two copies – one for me and one for my partner.

Author Oluo is a brilliant writer. She takes on topics and explores them in ways that others may not have before. She makes connections and provides context, research, and new information to every topic she takes on. When I heard she had a new book coming out, and on such an evergreen and yet extremely relevant topic, I was excited, because I knew I’d learn something.

The book has seven chapters exploring connections between everything from the white invasion of what is now the western US to American football. I found myself wanting to share so much with my partner as I read.

For example, just in the first chapter Oluo connects Buffalo Bill to the Cliven Bundy incident in the Pacific Northwest. I was like 25 pages in and found myself saying out loud ‘oh my gosh, of course, but holy shit.’ Actually I think that could be my refrain throughout large chunks of this book – nothing is necessarily brand new, especially to people who have either taken an interest in social justice issues or have lived experiences in these areas, but the connections are on another level.

I think many of us realize how white male power constantly and consistently makes the world a worse place. The assumption that white male is ‘normal’ or ‘neutral,’ and everyone else is a deviation from that norm, a special interest, is literally killing people. White men are given repeated opportunities that women and people of color have to fight for and seldom get. And at the same time, when white men don’t reach the levels of power and supremacy they’ve been promised, they lose their shit, punishing the rest of us along the way.

I could go on, but anything I would say is said better by Oluo in this book. Just trust me and pick up a copy.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it

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