“Be a Revolution”: Ijeoma Oluo’s inspiring journey from tragedy to activism

Ijeoma Oluo, known for her impactful works on race and social justice, faced a transformative journey that led her to pen her latest book, Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World—and How You Can, Too, released by HarperOne in January 2024, per an essay in publishersweekly.com.

According to the article, the renowned writer and activist initially intended to step away from the intense focus on racial justice after completing her bestselling books, So You Want to Talk About Race (2018) and Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (2020). However, the tragic loss of her home in a fire shifted her perspective, reminding her of the essential aspects of life.

In a recent Zoom interview from her Seattle home, Oluo shared her realisation during the crisis: “When you’re running out of a house fire without even shoes on, what matters is very crystal clear.” This experience propelled her back into the sphere of community and activism.

Be a Revolution explores the resilience of individuals and groups driving progress in various fields, connecting racial justice to areas such as arts, disability, education, gender and policing. Drawing on interviews with changemakers, Oluo offers a comprehensive view of the impactful work being done against the odds.

The book delves into the diverse stories of activists, challenging stereotypes and emphasising the humour and humanity within the movement. Oluo highlights the importance of community, inspired by her own experience of being embraced by her community after the tragic fire. 

Having faced adversity in her early life, growing up as a poor Black child in Seattle, Oluo credits her mother for safeguarding her identity and celebrating their Blackness and Nigerian heritage. Be a Revolution reflects a return to the concept of community, aiming to shift conversations on race from pain and trauma to a space of “loving action.”

In her travels for research, Oluo encountered inspiring stories that left her energised and ready to champion social justice. With a powerful message for readers, she emphasises the strength of collective love, urging people to believe in the possibility of overcoming adversity through faith in each other.

As the author reconnects with the theme of community, Be a Revolution invites readers to join the journey towards a more equitable society, guided by Oluo’s conviction that love can triumph over bigotry and hatred.

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