Uncomfortable conversations with a black boy

Emmanuel Acho

Book - 2021

"Approaching every awkward, taboo, and uncomfortable question with openness and patience, Emmanuel Acho connects his own experience with race and racism--from attending majority-white prep schools to his time in the NFL playing on majority-black football teams--to insightful lessons in black history and black culture. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy is just one way young readers can begin to short circuit racism within their own lives and communities." -- Amazon.com.

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Children's Room j305.8/Acho Checked In
Children's Room j305.8/Acho Checked In
New York : Roaring Brook Press 2021.
Main Author
Emmanuel Acho (author, -)
First edition
Item Description
"An Oprah book."
"A young readers' adaptation of Uncomfortable conversations with a black man"--Cover.
Physical Description
312 pages ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages [302]-312).
  • Introduction
  • Part I. Me and You
  • The Birth of Whiteness
  • 1. Roll Call: Black or African American?
  • 2. What Do You See When You See Me?: Implicit Bias
  • 3. The Head Start: White Privilege
  • 4. Cite Your Sources or Drop the Class: Cultural Appropriation
  • 5. The Mythical Me: Angry Black Men
  • 6. Nooooope!: The N-Word
  • Part II. Us and Them
  • 7. The Game is Rigged: Systemic Racism
  • 8. Standing up to Your Bullies: Reverse Racism
  • 9. The Fix: Who's Governing the Government
  • 10. Thug Life: Justice for Some
  • Part III. We
  • 11. Good Trouble: Fighting for Change
  • 12. Show Up: How to Be an Ally
  • 13. Breaking the Huddle: How to End Racism
  • Acknowledgments
  • Quick Talks
  • Recommendations
  • References
Review by Booklist Review

NFL player Acho took the world by storm with his web series addressing racial inequities by bringing white and Black people together in conversation. This title is born of that web series, offering young readers a play-by-play of America's dark history of racism at its various levels and pushing them to break the long-standing cycle of racialized injustice. Broken into three main parts, the book moves through cultural differences and stereotypes, institutionalized racism, and finally allyship and change. Standout chapters include the myth of the superpredator, the weaponization of whiteness, and the evolution of voter suppression. These subjects can be difficult for even the most well-versed in antiracist work, and, subsequently, each chapter is broken into digestible sections that teach, address discomfort, and offer actionable steps and resources. Acho, a Nigerian American man, very intentionally situates himself as cultural insider and outsider as it relates to both whiteness and Blackness--a move that works well for young readers who may be skeptical of their narrator's intention and understanding. There is humor, lightness, and relatability in Acho's reliance on pop culture and experience that will make this title a standout for use in classrooms, libraries, and homes. Included are extensive recommendations for further learning and a "Quick Talks" section that offers brief responses to commonly asked questions surrounding Blackness. This book may be marketed to a middle-grade audience, but whether you are 18 or 80, there's something to learn from in this thought-provoking pick.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 6--10--For audiences familiar with the former NFL linebacker's viral YouTube series, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, or those who might have already listened to the Acho-narrated audiobook of the same title, be assured that Landon Woodson's performance in this young readers edition is just as affecting. Divided into three parts--"Me and You," "Us and Them," "We"--Acho presents concise, thoughtful chapters that combine history, contemporary context, lessons and how-tos, even managing to acknowledge COVID-19 with "the longest-lasting pandemic in this country is a virus not of the body but of the mind, and it's called racism." He's got antidotes to share. Youthful and energetic, Woodson effortlessly adapts from the solemnity of exposing the horrors of enslavement, from breaking down challenging concepts like implicit bias and cultural appropriation, to encouraging all the ways of allyship. VERDICT Never pedantic, always heartening, Woodson is an excellent stand-in to amplify Acho's uncomfortable conversations.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A popular YouTube series on race, "Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man," turns how-to manual and history lesson for young readers. Acho is a former NFL player and second-generation Nigerian American who cites his upbringing in predominantly White spaces as well as his tenure on largely Black football teams as qualifications for facilitating the titular conversations about anti-Black racism. The broad range of subjects covered here includes implicit bias, cultural appropriation, and systemic racism. Each chapter features brief overviews of American history, personal anecdotes of Acho's struggles with his own anti-Black biases, and sections titled "Let's Get Uncomfortable." The book's centering of Whiteness and White readers seems to show up, to the detriment of its subject matter, both in Acho's accounts of his upbringing and his thought processes regarding race. The overall tone unfortunately conveys a sense of expecting little from a younger generation who may have a greater awareness than he did at the same age and who, therefore, may already be uncomfortable with racial injustice itself. The attempt at an avuncular tone disappointingly reads as condescending, revealing that, despite his online success with adults, the author is ill-equipped to be writing for middle-grade readers. Chapters dedicated to explaining to White readers why they shouldn't use the N-word and how valuable White allyship is may make readers of color (and many White readers) bristle with indignation and discomfort despite Acho's positive intentions. Ultimately adds little to conversations about race. (glossary, FAQ, recommended reading, references) (Nonfiction. 10-14) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.