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Sun, 12.28.1980

Ijeoma Oluo, Information Literacy Ambassador born

Ijeoma Oluo

*Ijeoma Oluo was born on this date in 1980. She is a Black writer, Information Literacy Ambassador, and poet.

From Denton, Texas, her father, Samuel Lucky Onwuzip Oluo, is from Nigeria and Black, and her mother is Susan Jane Hawley from Kansas and is white. Her younger brother is jazz musician Ahamefule J. Oluo.   She was married to Chad R. Jacobson from 2001 to 2005, with whom the first of her two children was born. She graduated from Western Washington University with a BA in political science in 2007. 

Ijeoma Oluo began her career in technology and digital marketing. She turned to write in her mid-30s after the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin, who was the same age as her son.  Fearful for her son as well as her younger brother, a musician then traveling on tour, Oluo began sharing long-held concerns via a blog she'd previously devoted to food writing.  She has described these initial forays as a significant influence on her writing style, as she hoped that sharing personal stories would be a way to connect to and activate her predominantly white community in Seattle.

Oluo has said she was disappointed by the response she initially received and that many of her existing friends "fell away" instead of engaging in the issues she had begun raising; however, many Black women she hadn't previously known reached out to express appreciation and Oluo's profile as a writer grew, with publications asking to reprint work from her blog and eventually commissioning new writing.  Based in Seattle, Washington, Oluo is the author of So You Want to Talk About Race and has written for The Guardian, Jezebel, The Stranger, Medium, and The Establishment, where she is also an editor-at-large.

In 2015 Oluo was named one of the most influential people in Seattle, and in 2018, she was named one of the 50 most influential women in Seattle. Her writing covers misogynoir, intersectionality, online harassment, the Black Lives Matter movement, race, economics, parenting, feminism, and social justice.  Many of her articles critiquing race and the invisibility of women's voices have gone viral, as exemplified in the coverage of her interview with Rachel Doleza. Oluo has also performed as a speaker, storyteller, and standup comic.  She was interviewed in the 2016 documentary short Oh, I Get It included in the Slamdance, Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, and others, about her experiences as a queer stand-up comedian.   Bustle magazine included Oluo among "13 Authors to Watch in 2018".

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