“Overcoming Bias”

Tiffany Jana & Matthew Freeman1

This may be the first time I’ve read one of these business books and not had the thought “yeah, this could’ve been a pamphlet.” Whoever edited it did a great job, presumably ruthlessly cutting out all the unnecessary parts, and the result is a lean, clean read.

The backstory of the authors—they’re married and co-own a company that basically consists of the two of them going around running corporate workshops on the topic of overcoming bias—helps it make a lot of sense, actually. This might not be a book that’s been edited down to the right point; it might be the rough script they use for their workshop sessions, expanded out from bullet points on a notecard to a book form. And from that perspective, it’s also done very well; they added just enough storytelling without getting bogged down, and make their points very well.

And, aside from that, it contains one of the best paragraphs I’ve ever read:

But just as we have told countless white people we have worked with, “by the power vested in us (by virtue of Tiffany’s negritude and our combined dedication to racial reconciliation), we hereby absolve you of your white guilt.” Now don’t get all excited and start throwing around slurs and crazy talk. We are just saying that we are fully aware that you did not personally create racism.“

Beautiful. I don’t know that I have ever read anything as hilariously, brutally honest about the concept of white guilt as “by the power vested in us (by virtue of Tiffany’s negritude)”. Just impeccable.

This is the most glowing review I think I’ve ever written of something that’s categorized as a “business book,” and I stand by it. This book feels like it can be useful as an introduction to diversity, as well as a useful reference material as you continue to learn more. Check it out.2

  1. Formatting- and voice-wise, I’d say Matthew was the primary author of this, with editing and interjections by Tiffany, but the fact that her name is alphabetically first is one of those “it is what it is” kinds of things. The fact that it then shows up in places as being written by “Tiffany Jana et al.”, though, that is hilarious.
  2. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.