The Black friend On being a better white person

Frederick Joseph

Book - 2020

Frederick Joseph call up race-related anecdotes from his past, explaining why they were hurtful and how he might handle things now. Each chapter features the voice of at least one artist or activist, including Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give; April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite; Jemele Hill, sports journalist and podcast host; 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 readers need. -- adapted from inside front jacket flap.

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Subjects
Genres
Young adult nonfiction
Anecdotes
Informational works
Autobiographies
Published
Sommerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press 2020.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xviii, 254 pages ; 22 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographic references (pages 245-247) and index.
ISBN
9781536217018
1536217018
Main Author
Frederick Joseph (author)
  • We want you to see race
  • We can enjoy Ed Sheeran, BTS, and Cardi B
  • Certain things are racist, even if you don't know it
  • You could at least try to pronounce my name correctly
  • This isn't a fad : this is my culture
  • So your friend is racist. What should you do?
  • No. You can't. No. You shouldn't. And don't ask that
  • No, I didn't get here by affirmative action (and if I did, so what?)
  • Let's not do oppression olympics
  • We don't care what your Black, brown, or Asian friend said was okay (F.U.B.U.)
  • In the end : we don't need allies, we need accomplices
  • An encyclopedia of racism
  • People and things to know
  • The "Black friend" playlist.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Typically, books on being an antiracist methodically walk readers through systemic racism and its related terminology, but Joseph takes a more personal, and perhaps more effective, approach, sharing stories from his time in school and college to provide cultural history and opportunities for reflection. In the process, the Black author offers context when explaining white privilege, cultural appropriation, power dynamics, and other important issues. For instance, as he describes hanging out at a white classmate's house and being asked about basketball and fried chicken, readers begin to see the subtle—and not-so-subtle—ways that white people sustain racism. He then uses these experiences to point out in a frank manner what white people can—or in most cases, what they should NOT—do to avoid racism. His stories also include individuals from other races, ethnicities, and religions, extending his message to end racism against all people of color. To reinforce many of his points, Joseph includes interviews with writers, activists, and other influencers from multiple intersections. Finally, he calls on white people to become active accomplices, rather than passive allies, in the fight. Readers can find more explanations of terms and movements in the concluding "Encyclopedia of Racism," as well as a "The Black Friend Playlist" and People and Things to Know roster. A hard-hitting resource for action and change. Grades 7-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Gearing this volume toward white people "who want to be better," Joseph offers anecdotes about his experiences with racism and white supremacy—including the first time he visited a white friend's house and his first encounter with a security guard at age 11—interlacing them with clear explanations of "the historic and current iniquities and disparities plaguing Black people and people of color as a whole." Supported by an Encyclopedia of Racism at book's end and studded with contextualizing boxes, the text frequently employs humor ("I'm not going to even bother explaining The Fresh Prince") while leading readers through topics such as "This Isn't a Fad; This Is My Culture"; "So Your Relative Is Racist. What Should You Do?"; and "Let's Not Do Oppression Olympics." Interviews with author Angie Thomas, journalist Jemele Hill, and others contribute discussions on the problem with "color blindness" and the importance of personal growth, among various topics. In a genial, assured tone, Joseph invites and encourages readers to reflect on their own behavior, move toward anti-racism, and implement change. Ages 12–up. Agent: Alex Slater, Trident Media Group. (Dec.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7 Up—Joseph contextualizes the legacy of racism and white supremacy through the lens of personal experience. Using humor and a conversational tone, he shares memories from his childhood to demonstrate encounters that were annoying, hateful, and even traumatic. Each story highlights how the words or actions of a white person left a lasting impact. There were kids who thought Joseph only liked rap music, a teacher who believed the only way he could get a high grade was by cheating, and police officers who were quick to assume he was the perpetrator. Interviews with influential Black personalities, who describe their thoughts on what white people should understand about Black people and Black culture, are featured throughout. There is a lot to love about this book, but its greatest strength is its ability to provide readers with the knowledge to recognize and understand the many faces of racism. Joseph delves into topics such as microaggressions, stereotypes, cultural appropriation, and affirmative action. He clearly and decisively breaks down the misconceptions surrounding each. The tone occasionally seeps into disappointed teacher territory and is unlikely to win over new allies but, as the introduction states, this text is for young white people who want to be better. Back matter includes "An Encyclopedia of Racism," a playlist, and recommended reading. VERDICT A helpful, commanding guide for white Americans who are ready to learn how to dismantle the system of racism, specifically anti-Blackness, and how they can change. Recommended for all libraries.—Cathy DeCampli, Haddonfield P.L., NJ Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Presents 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, in hopes of bringing more race awareness to Americans.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The instant New York Times bestseller!Writing from the perspective of a friend, Frederick Joseph offers candid reflections on his own experiences with racism and conversations with prominent artists and activists about theirs'creating an essential read for white people who are committed anti-racists and those newly come to the cause of racial justice."We don't see color.' 'I didn't know Black people liked Star Wars!' 'What hood are you from?' For Frederick Joseph, life as a transfer student in a largely white high school was full of wince-worthy moments that he often simply let go. As he grew older, however, he saw these as missed opportunities not only to stand up for himself, but to spread awareness to those white people who didn't see the negative impact they were having. 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 features the voice of at least one artist or activist, including Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give; April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite; Jemele Hill, sports journalist and podcast host; 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 readers need. Backmatter includes an encyclopedia of racism, providing details on relevant historical events, terminology, and more.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The instant New York Times bestseller!Writing from the perspective of a friend, Frederick Joseph offers candid reflections on his own experiences with racism and conversations with prominent artists and activists about theirs—creating an essential read for white people who are committed anti-racists and those newly come to the cause of racial justice.“We don’t see color.” “I didn’t know Black people liked Star Wars!” “What hood are you from?” For Frederick Joseph, life as a transfer student in a largely white high school was full of wince-worthy moments that he often simply let go. As he grew older, however, he saw these as missed opportunities not only to stand up for himself, but to spread awareness to those white people who didn’t see the negative impact they were having. 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 features the voice of at least one artist or activist, including Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give; April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite; Jemele Hill, sports journalist and podcast host; 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 readers need. Backmatter includes an encyclopedia of racism, providing details on relevant historical events, terminology, and more.