Title: The Black Friend-On Being a Better White Person
Author: Fredrick Joseph
Publisher: Candlewick Press, December 2020
Themes: racism, BLM, white supremacy, racial justice, artists, activists, microagressions, cultural appropriation,
Speaking directly to the reader, The Black Friend calls up race-related anecdotes from the author’s past, weaving in his thoughts on why they were hurtful and how he might handle things differently now. Each chapter includes the voice of at least one artist or activist, including Tarell Alvin McCraney, screenwriter of Moonlight; April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite; Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give; and eleven others. Touching on everything from cultural appropriation to power dynamics, “reverse racism” to white privilege, microaggressions to the tragic results of overt racism, this book serves as conversation starter, tool kit, and invaluable window into the life of a former “token Black kid” who now presents himself as the friend many of us need. Back matter includes an encyclopedia of racism, providing details on relevant historical events, terminology, and more. (publisher)
“We don’t see color.”
“I didn’t know Black people liked Star Wars!”
“What hood are you from?”
Why I like this book:
I think that The Black Friend by Frederick Joseph is going to help a lot of white people, like me, grow into the the type of person that the world needs us to be. This feels like a book that should be on all our school library shelves, empowering educators and students alike.
It’s written in a super style of sharing all the lessons he has learned as a black boy and man in this nation and all these anecdotes, woven into the conversations he has with amazing people like Angie Thomas, Jesse Daniels, Africa Miranda etc. He’s super honest about how he hid and buried so many opportunities to confront the micro and macro aggressions he experienced when younger and how he grew in courage and empowerment to confront stuff as he grew older. From cultural appropriation to overt racism.
Prepare to be challenged and see yourself in many of the white examples here. He ends it powerfully by distinguishing between being an accomplice and an ally. So much to unpack there. An ally is not enough. This is a book I want to get into the hands of everyone in my school. There are some great books coming out right now, fiction and nonfiction, helping expose the systematic racism in the US, but if I had to recommend a place to start conversations with your teens, I think it would be here with this book.
Highly recommended, and thank you to the publisher for my review ARC.
The book includes at the back: an encyclopedia of racism, suggested books to read and films to watch, people to know more about and the Black Friend Playlist.