Unfollow me Essays on complicity

Jill Louise Busby

Book - 2021

A cultural commentator presents this memoir-in-essays in which she provides a deeply personal, razor-sharp critique of white fragility, respectability politics, and all the places where fear masquerades as progress. Jill Louise Busby spent years speaking at academic institutions, businesses, and detention centres on the topics of Race, Power, and Privilege. In 2016, fed up with what passed as progressive in the Pacific Northwest, Busby uploaded a one-minute video about race, white institutions, and faux liberalism to Instagram. This is a memoir-in-essays about race, progress, and hypocrisy.

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  • Identification
  • Hi, Liberal White People
  • Still, Until
  • Dear White Hippiecrites
  • A Consequence of Us
  • Dear You (My Favorite Cousin)
  • Fly Home
  • Dear Black Revolutionary Internet Intellectuals
  • This Is How It Starts
  • [Dear Dad]
  • A Friend of Men
  • Dear Black People
  • Flowers for the Black Artists
  • Dear Jillisblack
  • Let the Little People Through
  • Do You Ever Think About Why People Unfollow You?
  • Unfollow Me
  • Acknowledgments
Review by Booklist Review

The opening lines of this debut collection read, "I am a black queer woman, and in case you haven't heard, I am having a moment." Busby, also known by her online persona, Jillisblack, has written dynamic biographical essays that ponder said moment and the moments that preceded it, the successes and pitfalls of sudden fame, the family relationships that helped shape her, and the experience of being a Black, queer, American woman at this remarkable moment in time. Busby is adept at writing introspectively, her moments of self-doubt and questioning juxtaposed with confidently expressed observations of the racism and hypocrisy she witnesses. The essays provide an intriguing glimpse of the author's state of mind, both before and after becoming recognized and growing her platform. Interspersed among personal histories and the discovery of her voice as an activist are social media posts from Jillisblack, offering insightful, sometimes humorous, and always thought-provoking snapshots of the persona that garnered the attention of millions. For readers who enjoy absorbing examinations of timely topics by an engaging, original voice.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Social media star Busby debuts with a trenchant collection of essays on race, authenticity, and ambition. Her musings come in the wake of having achieved viral fame in 2016 after posting a video calling out white people for their "masking of a desire to maintain their racial status with varying displays of eternal naivete," and the essays that follow offer a "look behind the curtain of identity." "Flowers for the Black Artists" covers Busby's time at a retreat for Black artists funded by "(nice, rich, white) liberals," and "Identity" recounts her feelings working for "the nonprofit machine." Her writing is infused with humor and pathos, as in her description of her grandparents in "A Consequence of Us": "My grandfather is a deep rich brown. He loves Cadillacs and most gender roles. My grandmother is inexplicably pale. She loves indulgence and being sick." One of the most moving moments comes in "A Friend of Men," when Busby recalls a conversation with a stranger on an airplane, in which she contemplates her reliance on her online persona: "Like, the idea of going out into the world as just Jill scares the shit out of me." The result is a stirring take on a young woman's search for identity and the fight for racial equity. (Sept.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

In this outstanding debut, based on her viral 2016 Instagram post about performative allyship, Busby reflects on life after micro-fame, considers what made her post go viral in the first place, and revisits her previous career as a diversity and inclusion trainer for nonprofits. Busby's book is not intended to educate so much as illuminate and reflect; she gracefully unpacks how her identity as a queer Black woman has impacted her life and career and relocations, from California to Alabama to Washington State and back again. She takes readers along as she movingly revisits the year she spent living with her grandparents in Alabama and carefully explores her romantic relationships with women and intimate friendships with men. Between chapters, Busby includes transcripts of her "Dear White People" series of Instagram videos, which followed her viral post. Her writing comes alive when she considers and reconsiders the emotional toll of fame, however fleeting, and the ongoing challenge of separating herself from her online persona. VERDICT Busby's compelling writing elevates conversations on gender, race, and sexuality, drawing in readers from the very first page and setting this memoir-in-essays apart. Pass along to readers who enjoyed Shayla Lawson's This Is Major and Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar's You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey.--Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A social media star struggles with her online persona and the perks it has brought her. In her debut collection of essays, Busby, aka Jillisblack, focuses on her "single gram of sub-demographic micro-fame on social media," exploring an online persona that is both admired and hated. In her first viral post, in 2016, she wondered why White people needed so many workshops and so much training and time to "get it"--a phenomenon now known as liberal gradualism. Busby was employed for a decade as a diversity educator, a position that deepened her cynicism and skepticism about pretty much everyone, including herself. Why was she privileging her Black identity over her queer identity? Because it was trendier? Why was she writing a book about being complicit? "Just so that [she feels] better about being complicit?" The author reveals the organizations and people who have reacted to her work by offering opportunities as colonizers and pawns of exceptionalism and tokenism. For example, a woman who hosted an event for influential people of color "looks so happy to see you having so much culturally authentic fun together, and you imagine her congratulating herself." In an essay describing an invited residency she participated in with other Black artists, Busby mocks both the organizers and some of her colleagues. In the final, titular piece--according to the author, "one that I will never allow to be the last essay of this book"--Busby recounts a surprisingly thoughtful online exchange with a member of the Proud Boys. The strongest material in the book is buried in the second-to-last essay. In the middle of the pandemic and the wake of George Floyd, her stepfather threatened to kill her and her mother, sending them on the run across the country. This engaging, harrowing tale should have opened the collection. For fans of Busby's online persona; others may choose to obey the title. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.