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The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person    by Frederick Joseph order for
Black Friend
by Frederick Joseph
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Frederick Joseph's The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person is not aimed at racists per se (few would pick up the book in the first place) but rather at those of us who try to get it right, but often (despite good intentions) just don't. Though the book is aimed at teens, adults would benefit from reading it as well.

The author tells us what it was like to grow up black - the serious warnings from family about interactions with officialdom that can so easily devolve dangerously; the constant assumptions about cultural interests and habits; and the resulting frustration and self doubt. Though many of us have also been put in a box by others at times - based on sex, country of origin, sexual proclivity etc. - only some folk have suffered such a steady barrage of such treatment from early childhood on.

That was my main take from reading Black Friend, the need to work harder to be more sensitive to these issues, given their prevalence. Joseph tells us that his book's Black Friend 'is the person who is willing to speak the truth to the white people in their lives, to call them out when they do or say something hurtful, ignorant, or offensive.' He gives many examples of what should be called out, based on his own experiences and those of different artists and activists.

Read The Black Friend and learn from it, as I hope I did. Let's all try to do better and to avoid subtle as well as overt forms of racism. As Frederick Joseph urges, 'Shine your light on the world ...'

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