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From the perspective of the friend everyone should have, Frederick Joseph offers an essential read for white people who want to be better about race—and people of color who long to see their experiences validated. “We don’t see color.” “I didn’t know Black people liked Star Wars!” “What hood are you from?” For Frederick Joseph, life in a mostly white high school as a smart From the perspective of the friend everyone should have, Frederick Joseph offers an essential read for white people who want to be better about race—and people of color who long to see their experiences validated. “We don’t see color.” “I didn’t know Black people liked Star Wars!” “What hood are you from?” For Frederick Joseph, life in a mostly white high school as a smart and increasingly popular transfer student 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 the white friends and acquaintances who didn’t see the negative impact they were having and who would change if they knew how. 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.


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From the perspective of the friend everyone should have, Frederick Joseph offers an essential read for white people who want to be better about race—and people of color who long to see their experiences validated. “We don’t see color.” “I didn’t know Black people liked Star Wars!” “What hood are you from?” For Frederick Joseph, life in a mostly white high school as a smart From the perspective of the friend everyone should have, Frederick Joseph offers an essential read for white people who want to be better about race—and people of color who long to see their experiences validated. “We don’t see color.” “I didn’t know Black people liked Star Wars!” “What hood are you from?” For Frederick Joseph, life in a mostly white high school as a smart and increasingly popular transfer student 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 the white friends and acquaintances who didn’t see the negative impact they were having and who would change if they knew how. 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.

30 review for The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    In The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person Fredrick Joseph shares stories from his past detailing racist comments, profiling incidents, and unfair treatment he’s been subjected to as a Black man (and previously a child) in America. While he let some things go — whether he was too young to recognize the hurtful language being used or didn’t think it was worth raising at the time — Fredrick reflects on why these comments and incidents aren’t ok and how looking back now, he may have reacte In The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person Fredrick Joseph shares stories from his past detailing racist comments, profiling incidents, and unfair treatment he’s been subjected to as a Black man (and previously a child) in America. While he let some things go — whether he was too young to recognize the hurtful language being used or didn’t think it was worth raising at the time — Fredrick reflects on why these comments and incidents aren’t ok and how looking back now, he may have reacted differently. It’s deeply disappointing to me that racism is still so prevalent and current today and not a thing of the past — The gruesome, overwhelming, and infuriating police brutality as recent as last year being (just) one stark example. The letter Fredrick writes to his younger brother in the preface was very moving and something I constantly thought of as I continued reading through the book. “I saw you recently in the midst of everyone trying to survive the pandemic and protesting for social justice, and as usual you didn’t have a care in the world. As it should be for an eight-year-old. I wish that I could make it so that your life was always that way, but it won’t be long before the stress of being Black in this world finds you. I am heartbroken by this unchangeable fact. As I write this, you are still too young to understand that to be Black in America is to be left with two options: either you pretend oppression isn’t happening or you fight back.” I wasn’t familiar with Fredrick prior to hearing about this book — He’s a writer, an activist, and was named to Forbes “30 Under 30” list in 2019. He also created the #BlackPantherChallenge, a crowdfunding initiative to send students to the movies in order to see Black Panther, raising almost $1M, enabling 73K students to attend — None of this is referenced in the book by the way, this is what I found out about Fredrick after finishing The Black Friend and wanting to know more about him. Whether you consider yourself a beginner, an ally already, or the ideal friend — an accomplice, there’s something in The Black Friend for every white reader.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lu luentreletras

    This books was amazing. I enjoyed reading it a lot because I learned more about racism in the United States and also I learned about Black culture and how racism affects it. Frederick Joseph's style of writing is very direct and easy to understand, which I believe is perfect for this book because the idea is that people reading it can learn from it and become better people who start taking action against systemic racism. It is a really didactic book and I loved how it includes its own encyclopedi This books was amazing. I enjoyed reading it a lot because I learned more about racism in the United States and also I learned about Black culture and how racism affects it. Frederick Joseph's style of writing is very direct and easy to understand, which I believe is perfect for this book because the idea is that people reading it can learn from it and become better people who start taking action against systemic racism. It is a really didactic book and I loved how it includes its own encyclopedia at the end with definitions of different terms mention by Frederick throughout the book. Moreover, I loved how the author sometimes paused his narration to explain something he was talking about or to request the reader to go search a certain tv show, historical event, song so they could have a better understanding of the situation he was describing. Not only did I learn about how to be antirracist but also I finished this book with a whole list of things to go check out that will enable me to learn more about Black Culture and its history. I totally recommend this book to anyone white out there who is willing to comprehend how racism works, how it affects people of colour worldwide and in The United States specifically, and who wants to become antirracist and help balck people but doesn't know how. I think this book is a good starting point because you can educate yourself and then start taking action and become, as Frederick says in the book, not an ally but an accomplice. It's not enough to not be racist, we have to be antiracist.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    There’s a lot to like about this book. BUT— Things I appreciated: * Frederick Joseph’s intent. * catchy title and great cover art * his recaps of conversations with a number of authors, activists, and social commentators, including Angie Thomas, April Reign, and Tarell Alvin McCraney. * the breadth of topics covered. The discussion around appropriation versus appreciation was very thorough. Issues I had: * Joseph’s tone. He presents himself as the Black “friend,” but there’s a strong self-congratulatory There’s a lot to like about this book. BUT— Things I appreciated: * Frederick Joseph’s intent. * catchy title and great cover art * his recaps of conversations with a number of authors, activists, and social commentators, including Angie Thomas, April Reign, and Tarell Alvin McCraney. * the breadth of topics covered. The discussion around appropriation versus appreciation was very thorough. Issues I had: * Joseph’s tone. He presents himself as the Black “friend,” but there’s a strong self-congratulatory vibe. Also lots of patronizing and a fair amount of man-splaining sprinkled in (especially in the interviews: he repeatedly goes back and says, in so many words, “What Jamira is trying to say is —“ as if we’re idiots or as if she didn’t just state it very well herself. * Joseph’s tendency to insert himself unnecessarily, often in jokey little asides that interrupt the narrative flow. * his “Encyclopedia of Racism”— again, quite patronizing. We desperately need books that deal with antiracism and social justice in a way that will resonate with teens. I think Joseph has potential as an author, but his first book doesn’t quite hit the mark. Thanks to Candlewick and Edelweiss for the digital ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Todd

    One of the most racist books I’ve ever read. If you enjoy the unfair use of statements about race to try to influence the actions or attitudes of a particular group of people. The author sees all of human relations reduced to a rudimentary correlation of skin color and inequality, an analysis we used to call racist — has decided that the culture must be cleansed of all of those who will not be drafted into its woke army. The book has the guise of being opposed to racism while actually having a p One of the most racist books I’ve ever read. If you enjoy the unfair use of statements about race to try to influence the actions or attitudes of a particular group of people. The author sees all of human relations reduced to a rudimentary correlation of skin color and inequality, an analysis we used to call racist — has decided that the culture must be cleansed of all of those who will not be drafted into its woke army. The book has the guise of being opposed to racism while actually having a polarizing and divisive message.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    Frederick Joseph has written an engaging and accessible book that would appeal to young readers. I spent a lot of my time with this book reading it aloud to my 11 year old son, which led to some really great conversations. He touches on both interpersonal and overt racist experiences as well as the systemic racism that he experienced during his school years. The best chapter, in my opinion, was the one where he gave an example where a white family behaved in a truly anti-racist way. I think this Frederick Joseph has written an engaging and accessible book that would appeal to young readers. I spent a lot of my time with this book reading it aloud to my 11 year old son, which led to some really great conversations. He touches on both interpersonal and overt racist experiences as well as the systemic racism that he experienced during his school years. The best chapter, in my opinion, was the one where he gave an example where a white family behaved in a truly anti-racist way. I think this provided a great model and demonstrated what it looks like to be an ally, even when it's uncomfortable and may cost you an important relationship. I enjoyed his casual style and the way he spoke directly to the reader. I'm going to recommend this book to all the young people in my life.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of The Black Friend in exchange for an honest review. In The Black Friend, author Frederick Joseph seeks to educate white people on how to become better people by improving their perceptions of and actions towards racial minorities (obviously mostly Black specific racism, but this book does also extend to other racial minorities in a lot of its chapters) through a combination of personal antidotes, interviews with other Black people & activists, an En Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of The Black Friend in exchange for an honest review. In The Black Friend, author Frederick Joseph seeks to educate white people on how to become better people by improving their perceptions of and actions towards racial minorities (obviously mostly Black specific racism, but this book does also extend to other racial minorities in a lot of its chapters) through a combination of personal antidotes, interviews with other Black people & activists, an Encyclopedia of Racism that teaches the reader about terminology and important figures/events not well covered, and various calls to action and further research. Joseph frames everything here in such a consumable, yet impactful way. It really feels as if he's sitting down with you specifically to talk to you about his experiences with racism and how you can improve to make the world a better place for other members of racial minorities. Non-fiction is normally a daunting genre for me since as a student, I read a lot of very dry, overwhelmingly detailed non-fiction, but Joseph takes on a conversational and occasionally comedic tone that has you hooked from beginning to end and really forces you to engage with this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    3.5 stars When my friend Stepheny asked if anyone would be willing to read this book with her, obviously my answer was an immediate yes. Anyone following me for more than 33 seconds will have maybe noticed that I have been reading a teensy tiny bit on this topic... so any opportunity I have to read more AND share the experience with a friend is a win/win! So I snagged the audiobook, and got started. And then I read it in 2 sittings and left my poor friend in the dust. (Sorry!) I really liked the 3.5 stars When my friend Stepheny asked if anyone would be willing to read this book with her, obviously my answer was an immediate yes. Anyone following me for more than 33 seconds will have maybe noticed that I have been reading a teensy tiny bit on this topic... so any opportunity I have to read more AND share the experience with a friend is a win/win! So I snagged the audiobook, and got started. And then I read it in 2 sittings and left my poor friend in the dust. (Sorry!) I really liked the reader for this one, Miebaka Yohannes. I liked his tone and cadence and I thought he did a great job of reading this in a way that felt conversational and intimate, while still dealing with a difficult subject matter. And since this book is a sort of memoir-style concept, I thought he nailed it. The book itself, I feel a bit mixed about though. On the whole, I thought it was very good, but to me it felt like "Anti-Racism 101" (which I guess it is kind of intended to be). That's NOT a bad thing, but a lot of it is stuff that is familiar to me, considering that I've been on this path for a good while already. I honestly wish that there was a bit more depth to it though. Because of it being a sort of memoir/anecdote style book, it felt a bit shallow for what it was aiming to accomplish, which is to teach non-POC people how to be better accomplices and stand up against racism - even, and especially when it's hard or uncomfortable. For instance, I wish that there were more academic studies or statistics or researched data used to supplement the stories and experiences included here to give it a bit more weight, rather than it just being one person's personal experiences and advice, if that makes sense. So many of his examples were prejudicial or stereotypical examples of racism - like microaggressions, or saying the N word, or cultural appropriation, or stereotypically assuming someone black must play basketball or only listen to rap, etc... and while I get that that type is likely to be the most personally experienced, and for many the most recognizable form of racism, it's only part of it. Racism is built-in to society, into policies that determine who has access and opportunity, and I wish that he would have shown that more. He touched on it a little bit, but I think he could have focused a lot more on systemic/structural racism and how that manifests. People who are already inclined toward anti-racism will jump on board and will learn how to be more conscious and modify their behaviors and actions, but in terms of this book being one to convince people to make that change to start with... I don't know if it is really going to be effective. I feel like it could be too easily dismissed as one guy being "sensitive" and making everything about race. (In fact, looking at the reviews, it's already happening.) It's in a weird place because it feels like a good starting point to being more conscious of behaviors and attitudes, but also requires you have to have a base level anti-racist mindset going in. All that being said... There were definitely aspects that I liked and appreciated, and which, if I'm honest, made me feel validated. For example, on a conversation about stories by and about black people, it was mentioned that NOT having race issues is inauthentic and unrealistic, because it is so integral to their lives and experiences. Whereas white authors never have to think about that kind of experience, and so often include "black" characters that are essentially the equivalent of painting blackface on a white character, because they don't include that history and context to the characters' lives. This immediately made me think of Stephen King's book Sleeping Beauties, because I mentioned that exact issue in my review of that book. There was a family that we learned pretty far into the book was black... but there was no info at all about their experience of living in rural West Virginia as the only (token) black family. And their experiences would have been VERY different than white people's. But instead of writing realistic characters who would have had realistic racist experiences in a very white dominant setting in Appalachia, the reader couldn't tell that they were black until midway through the book when they were explicitly described. White is almost always the default, but just saying that a character is black isn't enough. Nothing was added to the story by making them black. That's not diversity or representation, it's sheer tokenism. On that note, that conversation about stories about black people was with Angie Thomas, who wrote The Hate U Give, which is excellent and if you haven't read it you should. Stop reading this review and go do it. :D In each chapter, he spoke with another person or two about their relevant experiences on that particular topic... Many of the conversations were interesting and insightful, and I enjoyed them, but there were quite a few times when I felt that those sections were short-changed. There was one that seemed like barely a sentence was given to the person being interviewed. It just seemed like a wasted opportunity to really highlight how universal some of these attitudes and behaviors are, and I would have really liked a full interview-style chapter ending since he was bringing these people into the book already. I definitely wanted more of that. Overall, I enjoyed this, but I felt like it needed a bit more clarity as to what it was trying to be and accomplish, but there was a lot to like. I definitely would recommend it... in addition to quite a lot of other books on race and social justice. :)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Crank

    "Knowing your children will one day be forced to read my book on anti-racism in school on your tax dollars makes me so happy." - Frederick Joseph 11.06.20 I dont't agree in any way with the pretense of this book, that white people would have to work on themselves, to make this world a better place for other races. As with all races it is on the blacks themselves to shape their community through hard work and christian morals. This book is looking away at the real problems, which are the lack of m "Knowing your children will one day be forced to read my book on anti-racism in school on your tax dollars makes me so happy." - Frederick Joseph 11.06.20 I dont't agree in any way with the pretense of this book, that white people would have to work on themselves, to make this world a better place for other races. As with all races it is on the blacks themselves to shape their community through hard work and christian morals. This book is looking away at the real problems, which are the lack of morality in the black neighbourhoods (highest crime rates, and all Democratic Cities), and the rising opinion of of blacks that they are victims instead of Succesors. You can look up the FBI Crime statistics, if you really wanted to have an infromed discussion, and find that in 2018, 514 whites have been killed by blacks, but only 234 blacks have been killed by whites. And if you want a better understanding of the Author, here is what he posted on his official Twitter Account on 11.06.2020 : "Knowing your children will one day be forced to read my book on anti-racism [The Black Friend] in school on your tax dollars makes me so happy." So think twice about forcing you or your white collegues to read this book, as you may find something else with real value to spend your time on.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shivani

    *Important to note that I'm not a Black person, so please read reviews by Black reviewers to truly see what their thoughts/critiques might be about this book This book was really engaging and had some really important messages and stories which I found myself, as a POC feel seen through. I liked how the chapters were divided into these themes, but almost seemed like rules or niches of things that white people do (consciously or unconsciously) that’s racist or cultural appropriation. I found mysel *Important to note that I'm not a Black person, so please read reviews by Black reviewers to truly see what their thoughts/critiques might be about this book This book was really engaging and had some really important messages and stories which I found myself, as a POC feel seen through. I liked how the chapters were divided into these themes, but almost seemed like rules or niches of things that white people do (consciously or unconsciously) that’s racist or cultural appropriation. I found myself as a POC agreeing with a lot of the messages being portrayed to the audience and I urge all people to pick this book, not only for its knowledge, but the experience. I think my favorite aspect of the book was the Encyclopedia of Racism in the back (again structure was easy to read and understand, the tone was conversational (loved that). The Encyclopedia itself was so you didn’t have to go Google certain terms or points of history and again, was very informational while still holding my attention. I’m really glad I picked this book up and I will definitely be referring to and rereading this book in the future. *sent by Candlewick Press, all opinions are my own Rating: 4 stars (Non fiction is always hard to rate, but if I were to this is what it would be)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Zoe's Human

    When adults ask me for non-fiction books on topics that are new to them, I often steer them towards the middle-grade and young-adult sections. Many books intended for youth are perfect for beginners of any age, and adult books often assume more knowledge than a novice has. While intended for teens, The Black Friend is a book I'll be recommending to adults as well. This is an almost perfect primer on anti-racism for white folks age 12 and up. There is a glossary defining common and important terms When adults ask me for non-fiction books on topics that are new to them, I often steer them towards the middle-grade and young-adult sections. Many books intended for youth are perfect for beginners of any age, and adult books often assume more knowledge than a novice has. While intended for teens, The Black Friend is a book I'll be recommending to adults as well. This is an almost perfect primer on anti-racism for white folks age 12 and up. There is a glossary defining common and important terms. Each chapter covers the basics of a core concept and includes a related personal anecdote of the author as well as a mini-interview with an important voice in the anti-racism movement. The seriousness of the topic is never belied but humor is adroitly used to create a tone of a friendly and personal conversation. At the end, there is a list of people to know, books to read, movies, and even a music playlist. This is an invaluable resource for teens and adults. It should be present on bookshelves everywhere that humans read. I received a complimentary copy of this book via a LibraryThing giveaway. Many thanks to all involved in providing me with this opportunity.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hannah J

    This is a great book for white people who want to start learning more about racism and how to be more anti-racist in day to day interactions. I would especially recommend it to young adults.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    WOW. I loved this book so much! I know that Frederick’s goal for this book was done by me: it’s absolutely made me want to be a better white person and not be an ally, but an accomplice. Frederick taught me a lot, opened my mind, and really allowed me to see the tiny micro aggressions I didn’t even consciously know I had. Essential reading!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ivonne Rovira

    Frederick Joseph’s The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person is one part memoir, one part guide for Caucasians seeking to become allies — or, in better parlance, accomplices in bringing about equity and racial justice. The work is a bit uneven, although Joseph brings in some celebrity friends to spice things up. However, Joseph’s final chapter provides such a wakeup call with an episode in which one person made a lifetime’s worth of difference; I award the book five stars on that alone. I Frederick Joseph’s The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person is one part memoir, one part guide for Caucasians seeking to become allies — or, in better parlance, accomplices in bringing about equity and racial justice. The work is a bit uneven, although Joseph brings in some celebrity friends to spice things up. However, Joseph’s final chapter provides such a wakeup call with an episode in which one person made a lifetime’s worth of difference; I award the book five stars on that alone. If you read nothing else, please read final chapter, titled “In the End.” In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley and Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    When I was 13, the staff of the psychiatric ward where I spent some time were very fond of saying, "Sometimes in life you have to do things you don't want to." Mr. Joseph begins his introduction with this timeworn cliche but claims that this is a Black people thing. It would have been the perfect time to establish a sense of shared humanity (especially when writing for teenagers!) but the author drops the ball and never bothers to pick it up. Repeatedly, the author misses a teachable moment that When I was 13, the staff of the psychiatric ward where I spent some time were very fond of saying, "Sometimes in life you have to do things you don't want to." Mr. Joseph begins his introduction with this timeworn cliche but claims that this is a Black people thing. It would have been the perfect time to establish a sense of shared humanity (especially when writing for teenagers!) but the author drops the ball and never bothers to pick it up. Repeatedly, the author misses a teachable moment that seemed obvious to me. Racism and discrimination are framed as some kind of competition; although he deigns to mention the nonsense Muslims face these days, the author insists that to be a Black person is the worst thing in the world to be and I can't help but feel he has very little appreciation for how much privilege he has derived from his Y chromosome. The writing itself is very sound and there were stories I enjoyed hearing but this book should have been written by someone who knows how to write for young people. (Lord knows there are plenty of talented Black YA authors out there.) I received an ARC of this book free from Candlewick Press for review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Darya

    Thank you Candlewick Press & NetGalley for sending me an ARC of The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Frederick Joseph. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I want to start this review off by saying I am a brown woman and in no way do I want to speak over Black people on these issues faced in the book and in our general society. I have the sincerest amount of respect, love, and admiration for the people who are continuing to fight for equality and the end of white supremacy. While Thank you Candlewick Press & NetGalley for sending me an ARC of The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Frederick Joseph. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I want to start this review off by saying I am a brown woman and in no way do I want to speak over Black people on these issues faced in the book and in our general society. I have the sincerest amount of respect, love, and admiration for the people who are continuing to fight for equality and the end of white supremacy. While I have experienced racism, microaggressions, and police aggression because of my ethnicity, I know it is statistically more likely for Black people to be persecuted and that this book is centered around their issues. Starting off, the dedication and preface made my heart melt. We see a man who is (as he also states it) exhausted. This battle is exhausting. We see someone who knows that the fight for equality is a long and brutal road and sympathizes for his brother and the younger generation of BIPOC who will one way or another realize this. I think every BIPOC has the first defining moment/experience when they truly realize the weight and hatred of their mere existence causes. We get our first meeting with a man who has had his lifetime of moments, of fears and hatred felt. To me at least, this really humanizes Joseph. While this is nonfiction and I'm well aware he is in fact a real person, from the get-go he approached the book as someone you would want protesting beside you, fighting with you, grieving with you. There were points in the book I just wanted to turn to him as if he was there and scream "YES! THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE VALIDATION AND SHARED KNOWING OF AN EXPERIENCE WITH EMOTIONS I COULD NEVER HAVE PUT TO WORDS BEFORE!! I WILL FIGHT WITH YOU". There is no disguise to him, he is just like us. He is tired like us, he is angry like us, he is frustrated and scared like us. His words are raw and cut deeply as they should. The book takes us through 10 chapters that chronicle real issues the author faced. It is so refreshing to me to be able to read a book about race that is relevant, that mentions modern-day issues, past reflection, and future calls to action. I try to educate myself the best I can on different races, ethnicities, minorities, and injustices. From reading countless articles, books, watching documentaries, news sources, and listening to those affected, I can truly say that this is such a new and relevant take on race and we should all deeply consider picking up the book when it comes out (tomorrow, I believe!). A book worth picking up and one I would definitely recommend, especially to adults who may need an extra nudge (or forceful push) to be respectful and not racist.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    I would compare this book to “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo and probably say that these two books, in my opinion, are the best books to read for people who need an introduction to the concepts of race and racism. “The Black Friend” is great in that it is suitable for younger audiences (teens/high school). As a person of colour and a scholar on the topic of racism in schools, I think I’m considerably knowledgeable about race. I know the title is about being a better white person I would compare this book to “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo and probably say that these two books, in my opinion, are the best books to read for people who need an introduction to the concepts of race and racism. “The Black Friend” is great in that it is suitable for younger audiences (teens/high school). As a person of colour and a scholar on the topic of racism in schools, I think I’m considerably knowledgeable about race. I know the title is about being a better white person and I am not a white person but, I know I can work on being a better ally and accomplice to other people of colour. I want to be a better ally and accomplice to other people of colour. Reading this book was self-affirming; it made me nod in “heck yes” agreement with so many points Joseph and other activists make. It was heart-wrenching; I cried reading some of these stories of Fred, his friends and his schoolmates, picturing their struggles, arguments, fights, and understanding where those feelings come from because I’ve felt them too. And I felt hope and relief; knowing that there are people out there who are willing to be allies and accomplices, willing to sacrifice their privilege and comfort to help people who do not have those privileges. Hope that more people will be like the Matthews and like Brian.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    This book is not honest commentary on racism or America. Its just the point of view of one black man who sees Whites as racist, which itself is racist.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Briayna Cuffie

    *Disclaimer* I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for a fair/honest review. —————— Important context: This book is written for a YA audience, and I am a Black woman. This is important to note, given that some of the purposely low reviews on here from white people are annoying as hell (to put it nicely), and demonstrate that they don’t know how to 1) approach YA books as an adult, and 2) don’t understand how hard it is to essentially plea for hu *Disclaimer* I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for a fair/honest review. —————— Important context: This book is written for a YA audience, and I am a Black woman. This is important to note, given that some of the purposely low reviews on here from white people are annoying as hell (to put it nicely), and demonstrate that they don’t know how to 1) approach YA books as an adult, and 2) don’t understand how hard it is to essentially plea for humanity in a palatable way. I loved this book for many reasons, and for-see myself gifting it to young folks. As a Black woman, I’m not the intended audience, so what I got from it is different. It’s always validating (yet disheartening) to see experiences from your past (or even your present) in black and white written by someone else; some things are universal in the Black community in the U.S., and it’s always nice to feel less alone. The “sidebar” sections of commentary give a bit of levity, and I like to think he did it knowing that Black folks would get a kick out of it. I greatly appreciated the corny references to things from our adolescence that make anyone born after 1996 cringe to know were precursors to the wonderful things they now enjoy with ease. This book is a solid choice for a pre-teen and even early teen. For white ones – it could contribute to the decision of whether or not they allow themselves to become (or continue to be) a racist and problematic young human. As for brown and black pre-teens/teens, the author’s format will give cause to pause about how they allow themselves to be treated and how they might feel later in life when they reflect. While the author was direct, I personally would’ve been more....heavy handed (but that’s just how I was raised). He maneuvers topics well overall, but the closing of it the book could have had more “oomph.”

  19. 4 out of 5

    Krisette Spangler

    I'm having a hard time reviewing this book. On one hand, it really is important for all of us to try to understand other cultures and racism in America. I really did want to know what was hard about being black in America. The author did cover those topics, and I was grateful to learn some things I didn't know. However, I'm not sure if the author would find me to be a good friend. He feels people are racist, when sometimes I don't think people are trying to be racist. They might just be clueless I'm having a hard time reviewing this book. On one hand, it really is important for all of us to try to understand other cultures and racism in America. I really did want to know what was hard about being black in America. The author did cover those topics, and I was grateful to learn some things I didn't know. However, I'm not sure if the author would find me to be a good friend. He feels people are racist, when sometimes I don't think people are trying to be racist. They might just be clueless or ignorant. He was very derogatory and unkind to the people in his book. Some of the people in his stories deserved it; others were just uneducated and didn't know any better. Most of the stories in this book are from when the author was in secondary education and college. Lots of people say horrible things to each other during those times, but I understand his point of view that black people are tired. They are tired of having to defend themselves from people who are either openly racist or just plain clueless. The book does help me to know what some of the areas are that I was not aware of. The author was not kind himself on many levels. He was invited over to a white friend's house for dinner. The dad asked him if he was going to be in the NBA and the little brother said they probably ate fried chicken for Sunday dinner. For some reason Mr. Joseph feels it's okay to mock the family's food and traditions. He was a guest in their home, the family tried to be kind after the little brother made a racist comment, and they get a spot in his book telling the world how disgusting their food was. Not cool. I also did not agree with the following statement: "While this book is meant to be a guide for white people to understand and be better, it's important that white people also understand it isn't the duty of black people...to explain things." Of course, it's the duty of black people, Muslim people, Christian people, and all people to teach others how they want to be treated. Nothing will change if we always just get angry and decide to hate those who are ignorant. Educating each other and helping each other learn about things that are important to us will ultimately make all of us better friends to everyone. My friend, TJ Hoisington, says, "You have to teach people how to treat you." I think that is good advice for everyone.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Catrina

    While it’s clear that this targeted at a white audience and it will definitely help some of them. I wasn’t entirely clear on the age group that this book was targeted towards. As ARC from NetGalley it has it geared to children’s non-fiction and there were some moments that were great direction points to educate the audience. There were some good anecdotal moments that I related to as a Black woman that I experienced during my teens and the sound bites from activists was an interesting take. Howe While it’s clear that this targeted at a white audience and it will definitely help some of them. I wasn’t entirely clear on the age group that this book was targeted towards. As ARC from NetGalley it has it geared to children’s non-fiction and there were some moments that were great direction points to educate the audience. There were some good anecdotal moments that I related to as a Black woman that I experienced during my teens and the sound bites from activists was an interesting take. However, I felt the writing style was all over the place and felt more conducive to blog articles or tweets, there were no real deep depths in the chapter and just covered some surface issues at times. The summary points with the pause, rewind, fast forward icons I couldn’t understand the thematic concepts, sometimes it was a definition, backstory context or random thoughts as side notes. I would have have liked if this section was used more of a clear index and bookmark points that linked to the points of racism and anti-racism and not random elements to just google just because.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christi Flaker

    4.5 stars rounded up. This is a very approachable book for young adults to put racism in the spotlight using the authors real life stories. He then backs up the point with different "interviews" with a variety of individuals. The author has a lot of stop and talk to the audience moments to address different pop culture or to make sure the reader knows about the topic he is addressing. These kind of got tired after a bit and so I almost gave this book a lower rating BUT I remembered the audience th 4.5 stars rounded up. This is a very approachable book for young adults to put racism in the spotlight using the authors real life stories. He then backs up the point with different "interviews" with a variety of individuals. The author has a lot of stop and talk to the audience moments to address different pop culture or to make sure the reader knows about the topic he is addressing. These kind of got tired after a bit and so I almost gave this book a lower rating BUT I remembered the audience this book is more directed to and for them I think it works better.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    At the end of this book, the author discusses how hard it was for him to write about his experiences with racism of all kinds, and how he was doing it as a gift for white readers in order to help them learn more and be better. I'm a white woman who is trying to listen and learn, and I just want to say that I sincerely appreciate this book and will be sure to pass it along to other readers and place it on our recommended reads lists at my library. At the end of this book, the author discusses how hard it was for him to write about his experiences with racism of all kinds, and how he was doing it as a gift for white readers in order to help them learn more and be better. I'm a white woman who is trying to listen and learn, and I just want to say that I sincerely appreciate this book and will be sure to pass it along to other readers and place it on our recommended reads lists at my library.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    I honestly cannot stress enough white people need to read this book. “ but it’s important to understand that this book is a gift, not an obligation. The gift is in the form of an opportunity.” There are so many life altering quotes in this book. Thank you Frederick for sharing your story for all of us white people that want to be accomplices.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Smith

    Really good for young readers.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    3.5 - I loved the interviews and the anecdotes were good. However, especially if geared toward teenagers, it does not seem to provide any hope that creating allies/"accomplices" is feasible. Note: This was obviously written for white American audiences with the assumption that their families have been in the US 200+yrs. The information in the book is valuable for everyone but if you are from a white ethnic family or are from a white country other than the US, you may not appreciate some of the ge 3.5 - I loved the interviews and the anecdotes were good. However, especially if geared toward teenagers, it does not seem to provide any hope that creating allies/"accomplices" is feasible. Note: This was obviously written for white American audiences with the assumption that their families have been in the US 200+yrs. The information in the book is valuable for everyone but if you are from a white ethnic family or are from a white country other than the US, you may not appreciate some of the generalizations regarding white culture or the lack thereof. [If you don't believe there is white culture, go to an Italian family's house for Sunday dinner, attend a Polish or Greek wedding, or go to a Jewish household for Passover and get back to me.] If you are looking for a book to give to young adults a history of race relations and systemic racisim while providing them with action items in a positive way, I highly recommend "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Risa Hunter

    The subtitle “On being a better white person” hooked me, and the conversations the author has with other people of color kept me reading and learning. Along with the book “Caste,” this gave me so much to think about as we continue to look at the effects of racism on our country.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    I wish I could give this more than 5 stars. I wish I could sit down with Mr. Joseph and have a conversation. Barring that, go read this book. Especially if you are white, READ THIS BOOK.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephany Pachowka

    This book is a gift from Frederick Joseph. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow. He gives us the tools to be better. But mostly it’s a handbook for white people and how not to be racist assholes. Its a blend of his personal stories and interviews with people of color. He didn’t have to write this book but he did to help us help his community. To be an ally or as Frederick says “accomplices” we need to educate ourselves and listen to BIPOCs stories. Many times I grew frustrated and angry reading This book is a gift from Frederick Joseph. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow. He gives us the tools to be better. But mostly it’s a handbook for white people and how not to be racist assholes. Its a blend of his personal stories and interviews with people of color. He didn’t have to write this book but he did to help us help his community. To be an ally or as Frederick says “accomplices” we need to educate ourselves and listen to BIPOCs stories. Many times I grew frustrated and angry reading what he has endured. But mostly it made me sad because unfortunately too many times I have heard or seen moments of racism and didn’t act. This book will make you self reflect, understand, and grow and that is what we all need to do if we want to see white supremacy and systematic racism end. It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of growth from white people! I’m willing to put in the work, I’m willing to speak up for others, and I’m willing to admit my wrongdoings. I’m willing to do it for my daughters, their friends, and their generation to thrive! Bonus this book includes a sick playlist, an encyclopedia, and shares people and things to know to continue learning.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Luke Dreier

    Frederick notes this is nothing new that he shares in this book but it is indeed a unique look into deeply personal stories and thought. He did not have to share any of this as it’s not the authors job to teach these things but I am glad he did. This book truly changed my life.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This book will make many readers uncomfortable--and that's actually a good thing since it encourages deep reflection, self-examination, open-mindedness, and action. Relying on 10 short chapters containing his thoughts and other social activists, including Angie Thomas, April Reign, Saira Rao, the author covers a lot of territory here as he demystifies parts of Black culture and challenges some commonly-held assumptions some whites have about Blacks. Among them are the notion that being color bli This book will make many readers uncomfortable--and that's actually a good thing since it encourages deep reflection, self-examination, open-mindedness, and action. Relying on 10 short chapters containing his thoughts and other social activists, including Angie Thomas, April Reign, Saira Rao, the author covers a lot of territory here as he demystifies parts of Black culture and challenges some commonly-held assumptions some whites have about Blacks. Among them are the notion that being color blind when it comes to race is a good thing, that all Blacks love certain types of music and pastimes, that the n-word is okay to use, that it's perfectly fine to touch a Black person's hair, among others. He also goes to great pains to explain affirmative action and to suggest that being an ally is not enough. What he wants is whites who are accomplices. I appreciated his sometimes-sarcastic voice and his earnestness, and yes, there were parts of the book that made me squirm such as his asides about the racism of the early feminist movement and the power that white women often have, but there was truth in what he wrote. And while I would hope that someday we will be able to come together in harmony, I freely acknowledge that there is plenty of work well-meaning whites like me need to do in order to become "better." The book includes a letter to his eight-year-old brother Brandon, and is conversational in tone, sharing his mistakes, experiences, and lessons learned. In many respects, reading the book felt as though I were participating in a one-sided conversation with a Black friend who sees the potential in me and others like me and wants to raise our awareness. The inclusion of source notes, a playlist, suggested readings, and an appendix explaining various terms such as microaggression, systemic racism, and white standards makes this something of a primer on racism, something that middle graders and teens can easily grasp. If he's a tad condescending, well, maybe he has a right to be since he's been let down and disappointed in the past. I finished it feeling proud of how far I've come as a human being but also fully aware of the many miles I have to go. I don't agree with every single thing Joseph includes here, but I certainly agree with most of it. I strongly suggest moving this one to the top of your reading pile. As an aside, I loved the cover and his constant references to Google so readers could quickly learn more about a topic.

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