Say the Right Thing: How to Talk About Identity, Diversity, and Justice (Hardcover)
A Living Now Book Awards Gold Medalist, Social Activism/Charity
A practical, shame-free guide for navigating conversations across our differences at a time of rapid social change.
In the current period of social and political unrest, conversations about identity are becoming more frequent and more difficult. On subjects like critical race theory, gender equity in the workplace, and LGBTQ-inclusive classrooms, many of us are understandably fearful of saying the wrong thing. That fear can sometimes prevent us from speaking up at all, depriving people from marginalized groups of support and stalling progress toward a more just and inclusive society.
Kenji Yoshino and David Glasgow, founders of the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at NYU School of Law, are here to show potential allies that these conversations don’t have to be so overwhelming. Through stories drawn from contexts as varied as social media posts, dinner party conversations, and workplace disputes, they offer seven user-friendly principles that teach skills such as how to avoid common conversational pitfalls, engage in respectful disagreement, offer authentic apologies, and better support people in our lives who experience bias.
Research-backed, accessible, and uplifting, Say the Right Thing charts a pathway out of cancel culture toward more meaningful and empathetic dialogue on issues of identity. It also gives us the practical tools to do good in our spheres of influence. Whether managing diverse teams at work, navigating issues of inclusion at college, or challenging biased comments at a family barbecue, Yoshino and Glasgow help us move from unconsciously hurting people to consciously helping them.
About the Author
Kenji Yoshino is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law and the faculty director of the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Kenji studied at Harvard, Oxford, and Yale Law School. His fields are constitutional law, antidiscrimination law, and law and literature. He has received several distinctions for his teaching and research, including the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, the Peck Medal in Jurisprudence, and New York University’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Kenji is the author of three previous books—Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights; A Thousand Times More Fair: What Shakespeare’s Plays Teach Us About Justice; and Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial. He has published in major academic journals, including the Harvard Law Review, the Stanford Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal, as well as popular venues such as the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. He serves on the board of the Brennan Center for Justice, advisory boards for diversity and inclusion at Charter Communications and Morgan Stanley, and on the board of his children’s school.
David Glasgow is the executive director of the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and an adjunct professor at NYU School of Law. He graduated with a BA in philosophy and an LLB (First Class Honors) from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and clerked on the Federal Court of Australia. A dual-qualified attorney in New York and Australia, he practiced employment, labor relations, and antidiscrimination law at law firm King & Wood Mallesons before completing his Master of Laws (LLM) at NYU School of Law in 2014, where he was awarded the David H. Moses Memorial Prize and the George Colin Award. He has written for a range of publications including the Harvard Business Review, HuffPost, and Slate, and served as an associate director of the Public Interest Law Center at NYU School of Law prior to his current role.
"Open-hearted and constructive, Say the Right Thing is a crucial read for anyone seeking the words to put their values into the world."
— Gretchen Rubin, New York Times bestselling author of The Four Tendencies and The Happiness Project
“Diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. This book is an utterly transformative guide to building an inclusive culture—one conversation at a time.”
— Vanessa Williams, award-winning actress and singer, and New York Times bestselling co-author of You Have No Idea
“Clear-eyed, rigorous, humane, but most importantly wise. Say the Right Thing manages to be both righteous and kind, which is the combination we all need.”
— Chris Hayes, New York Times bestselling author and Emmy award winning news anchor
“Yoshino and Glasgow’s book could not come at a better moment. Increasingly, our democracy and our future depend on our capacity to talk to one another, come to greater understanding, and act together to advance the cause of justice. In offering readers these skills, Say the Right Thing is a critical tool for a challenging time.”
— Deborah Archer, President of the ACLU
“Every aspiring leader needs the ability to navigate conversations across difference with empathy, wisdom, and compassion. Brimming with practical advice, this extraordinary book guides the way.”
— James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley
“This gem translates research into action and principles into practicality. At a time in our culture when many of us are locked into conflict or turning away from each other out of fear, this book offers both the how-to and the why-to guide we desperately need. Say the Right Thing is an instant classic.”
— Dolly Chugh, author of The Person You Mean to Be and A More Just Future
“This much-needed book answers a key question: how can we move from good intentions to concrete action? Kenji Yoshino and David Glasgow write with eloquence, candor, and vulnerability to guide us all toward greater inclusion. Anyone who wants to be a better ally will find Say the Right Thing a precious gift.”
— Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Chief Diversity Officer at Microsoft
“A must-read for anyone seeking guidance on how to foster positive communication about identity.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Compelling, practical advice and techniques for holding conversations with others about identity without feeling ashamed . . . Readers interested in communications specifically related to equity, diversity, and inclusion will find lots of relevant advice in this timely book.”
“Impeccably timed…Say the Right Thing is full of practical advice, gently (but also firmly) delivered.”
— New York Times Book Review