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Disorientation: Being Black in the World

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Bestselling, Scotiabank Giller Award-winning writer Ian Williams brings fresh eyes and new insights to today's urgent conversation on race and racism in startling, illuminating essays that grow out of his own experience as a Black man moving through the world. With that one eloquent word, disorientation, Ian Williams captures the impact of racial encounters on racialized p Bestselling, Scotiabank Giller Award-winning writer Ian Williams brings fresh eyes and new insights to today's urgent conversation on race and racism in startling, illuminating essays that grow out of his own experience as a Black man moving through the world. With that one eloquent word, disorientation, Ian Williams captures the impact of racial encounters on racialized people--the whiplash of race that occurs while minding one's own business. Sometimes the consequences are only irritating, but sometimes they are deadly. Spurred by the police killings and street protests of 2020, Williams realized he could offer a perspective distinct from the almost exclusively America-centric books on race topping the bestseller lists, because of one salient fact: he has lived in Trinidad (where he was never the only Black person in the room), in Canada (where he often was), and in the United States (where as a Black man from the Caribbean, he was a different kind of only). Inspired by the essays of James Baldwin, in which the personal becomes the gateway to larger ideas, Williams explores such things as the unmistakable moment when a child realizes they are Black; the ten characteristics of institutional whiteness; how friendship forms a bulwark against being a target of racism; the meaning and uses of a Black person's smile; and blame culture--or how do we make meaningful change when no one feels responsible for the systemic structures of the past. With these essays, Williams wants to reach a multi-racial audience of people who believe that civil conversation on even the most charged subjects is possible. Examining the past and the present in order to speak to the future, he offers new thinking, honest feeling, and his astonishing, piercing gift of language.


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Bestselling, Scotiabank Giller Award-winning writer Ian Williams brings fresh eyes and new insights to today's urgent conversation on race and racism in startling, illuminating essays that grow out of his own experience as a Black man moving through the world. With that one eloquent word, disorientation, Ian Williams captures the impact of racial encounters on racialized p Bestselling, Scotiabank Giller Award-winning writer Ian Williams brings fresh eyes and new insights to today's urgent conversation on race and racism in startling, illuminating essays that grow out of his own experience as a Black man moving through the world. With that one eloquent word, disorientation, Ian Williams captures the impact of racial encounters on racialized people--the whiplash of race that occurs while minding one's own business. Sometimes the consequences are only irritating, but sometimes they are deadly. Spurred by the police killings and street protests of 2020, Williams realized he could offer a perspective distinct from the almost exclusively America-centric books on race topping the bestseller lists, because of one salient fact: he has lived in Trinidad (where he was never the only Black person in the room), in Canada (where he often was), and in the United States (where as a Black man from the Caribbean, he was a different kind of only). Inspired by the essays of James Baldwin, in which the personal becomes the gateway to larger ideas, Williams explores such things as the unmistakable moment when a child realizes they are Black; the ten characteristics of institutional whiteness; how friendship forms a bulwark against being a target of racism; the meaning and uses of a Black person's smile; and blame culture--or how do we make meaningful change when no one feels responsible for the systemic structures of the past. With these essays, Williams wants to reach a multi-racial audience of people who believe that civil conversation on even the most charged subjects is possible. Examining the past and the present in order to speak to the future, he offers new thinking, honest feeling, and his astonishing, piercing gift of language.

53 review for Disorientation: Being Black in the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    When I set out to read the words of Ian Williams I know that I am going to think differently in the end. I appreciate that experience and I was honored to receive an advance read copy of "Disorientation: Being Black in the World" from Netgalley. One of my favorite parts was the experience of a moment with Margaret Atwood. I was watching the actual discussion when it aired and I enjoyed the background and insights. Ian Williams is a thought provoking writer. This book has stayed with me for sever When I set out to read the words of Ian Williams I know that I am going to think differently in the end. I appreciate that experience and I was honored to receive an advance read copy of "Disorientation: Being Black in the World" from Netgalley. One of my favorite parts was the experience of a moment with Margaret Atwood. I was watching the actual discussion when it aired and I enjoyed the background and insights. Ian Williams is a thought provoking writer. This book has stayed with me for several days.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    I have been in a mixed-race marriage with a third generation Japanese Canadian for 42 years. We have three children, none of whom have chosen white partners. We have welcomed a Guyanese-Jamaican, a Vietnamese and a Pakistani to our family. I often wonder how the world perceives them. Thanks to Ian Williams for sharing his experiences and his understanding.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katie Mercer

    This book needs to be read as a book, not on kindle- and I absolutely cannot wait to read it as a book. Williams is a brilliant author, who is so celebrated for a reason. It starts with a bang “ I doubt you want to swim in the putrid opinions of narrow-minded folks.” and it’s all perfect from there. I got an ARC from NetGalley, and fully intend on buying a physical copy!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Summer Brennan

    Excellent.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ben Rogers

    I enjoyed this book. I found it a strong read on social justice, race, and social issues. Would recommend! Ian is an impressive author, I would keep a close eye on his career. 3.9/5

  6. 4 out of 5

    Heather Jones

    As always, Ian has created an outstanding and compelling work. A must-read for everyone.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kenzie Gordon

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lindy

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alex Platt

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennie Chantal

  14. 4 out of 5

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    Mark Otway

  16. 5 out of 5

    JoAnne

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katie Sikkes

  18. 5 out of 5

    Helen Lew

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Ramon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Emily C.

  21. 5 out of 5

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  22. 5 out of 5

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  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul Dhillon

  24. 4 out of 5

    HeatherLynn

  25. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Davin

  26. 5 out of 5

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  27. 4 out of 5

    Creolecat

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily Flaherty

  29. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Berry

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Keenan

  31. 5 out of 5

    Omar Mouallem

  32. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  33. 5 out of 5

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  34. 4 out of 5

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  35. 4 out of 5

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  36. 5 out of 5

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  37. 5 out of 5

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  38. 4 out of 5

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  39. 5 out of 5

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  40. 5 out of 5

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  41. 4 out of 5

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  42. 4 out of 5

    Leah Horton

  43. 5 out of 5

    Amie's Book Reviews

  44. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  45. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Schwartz

  46. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn Stanley

  47. 5 out of 5

    Maya (Betwixtbooks)

  48. 4 out of 5

    Dave Bensette

  49. 4 out of 5

    Michael Carter

  50. 4 out of 5

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  51. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten Lyon

  52. 5 out of 5

    Walter Lipke

  53. 4 out of 5

    Desiree Trott

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