2020 has been hard for all Americans, but Black people have been especially disproportionately affected. Police brutality, systematic racism, and racial microaggressions in everyday life only scratches the surface of the traumas Black Americans are (and have been) facing. However, 2020’s tragedies for the Black community has inversely brought a great desire from many people to learn how they right past wrongs and help Black people for the future.
It’s this eagerness that Frederick Joseph writes to in “The Black Friend: On Being A Better White Person.” He describes his own interactions with racism and interviews others about theirs, and defines what racism is, what types of racism there are, and how to not be racist – and call others out when they are.
He also explores misogyny, homophobia, islamophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia, and how these all connect in marginalized people’s lives.
On top of being intensely moving and inspiring, it’s also funny, charming, and engaging. At the end is an encyclopedia of the different terms mentioned, a list of influential people of color to learn more about, and a playlist of songs he recommends. And all throughout he adds commentary with extra insight, definitions, people or songs to look up, or clarifications.
My only negative comment is that the slightly choppy format can interrupt the reading experience, since there are references to other parts of the book, and many points may blur together across chapters. Other than that, this book is amazing.
Overall, I laughed, I cried, I wanted to throw the book across the room because of how angry I was at how ignorant and disrespectful people can be, I cheered when someone stood up against racism, and I was reminded of my (and my friends and family’s) privilege, and how we can use it to help others. I came out of this book feeling more aware, learned, inspired, and (constructively) angry.
I recommend this book for absolutely everyone, whether you’re a seasoned activist, activist-in-training, just starting your activism journey, or are a victim of racism (or other sentiments) and just looking to know you’re not alone.