Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America
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Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  344 ratings  ·  100 reviews
An incisive and candid look at how America got lost on the way to Dr. King’s Promised Land. Almost fifty years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech, equality is the law of the land, but actual integration is still hard to find. Mammoth battles over forced busing, unfair housing practices, and affirmative action have hardly helped. The bleak fact is that...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Viking Adult
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Terri Lynn
I received this in a Goodreads giveaway and was delighted to have gotten it. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1960's/1970's. My parents were white Atheist liberals who owned a bookstore that was always fully integrated with one men's restroom, one women's restroom, and one water fountain. We had no Whites Only or No Coloreds allowed signs as I saw all over town. My all-white school was integrated by none other than Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sons Marty and Dexter and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy'...more
Gabriel
[Won as a First Reads]

Looking for a book that will make you think about race in a slightly different way? Looking for a book that shows us how much progress has been made? Looking for a book that describes the true cost of that progress? In many ways, this is that book. Written in an easy style with structured history and memoir-esque reasons, SomBFaB plays out like a Michael Moore movie, only fair, balanced and truly important for everyone no matter what side of the divide you are on. This book...more
Michelle
The author discusses integration and how limited it is. He views it from the fact that he has no black friends. Acquaintances but not friends. He frames this exploration of modern America history through his own life and the places he's lived and their connection to integration. It's a great framing device, but he's inconsistent with it. It bounces around time-wise and the first and last chapter on school and church are the strongest.

School is the strongest chapter because you hear the most abou...more
Andrew
This book was hit AND miss for me. Being a big fan of the urban planning field, I loved the first part of the book - it was a fascinating overview of historical patterns with modern day examples of what those patterns have wrought. So far, so great. And then . . .

came the whole middle section about advertising which, to me, seemed to go on and on and on and on. I turned the page at the end of one section and was hoping that Colby had gotten everything he wanted to say about advertising out on t...more
Britt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Su
The first section of this book, about the segregated Birmingham schools the white author attended, was weak. There was nothing new in it, and Colby's analysis was very superficial, although people unfamiliar with the history of busing may find much that is new in it. I nearly gave up on the book, but the second section, on housing segregation in Kansas City, Missouri, was excellent and eye-opening. Its review of the well-known process of redlining was familiar, but it went deeper in describing h...more
Toni
This is not some serious textbook chronicling the history of racial integration in America. Neither is it a personal memoir about the author's lack of black friends. It's kind of a combination of both.

Colby realized that during the 2008 election, people of many races came together to choose our country's first black president. An when we were done cheering our victory, we went back to our mostly still segregated neighborhoods, school districts, and churches.

Colby uses some of his personal exper...more
Lesley
Maddening, shocking, frustrating and infuriating: these are a few terms that came to mind as I read Tanner Colby's terrific look at the successes and (mostly) failures of racial integration. Wisely focusing on 4 areas of American life within his personal experience, Colby probes the hypocrisies and bad decisions behind school desegregation in Alabama; redlining, blockbusting and restrictive covenants in Kansas City; "ethnic niche" advertising in New York; and racially divided parishes in Catholi...more
Crystal
This is about your average white guys experience with integration. He depicts three segments of integration based on places that he has lived. It was very, very interesting. Us white folks born in the last half of the 20th century have been taught that we are integrated, and we believe that. In my graduating class of over 800 there was one black person. (There was a growing number of hispanic students as they migrated in to work in the Tyson factories.) And he was our comedian; our mischief make...more
Lauren
I REALLY wanted to like this book - Colby starts off strong with an introduction that is personal, honest, and funny. You have the sense that he is going to be great at talking about race relations in a raw but entertaining way. Unfortunately, the tone changes significantly in the next chapter and remains somewhat clinical and dry for the majority of the book. As someone who has read a lot of historical texts on race in the country, I didn't come to this book to learn more backstory - I wanted a...more
Vicki
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Katreena
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Rebecca
I really wanted to LOVE this book because I think the title, as well as the premise, are pretty admirable. There were some parts that were really good, but more because I enjoyed the history lessons than the writing or some of the author's actual viewpoints.

Like I said, I think the history lessons are good, and I think it's commendable that the author was open to admitting that he didn't know much before undertaking this project. However, that being said, while I did feel like some of his obser...more
Katie
Outstanding. Colby deftly weaves personal narratives of integration into documented history--much of it lesser known and more in-depth than what you read in typical histories of civil rights. You'll learn surprising facts about school integration, housing, employment, and religion. All the while Colby works to find examples of hope, where integration seems possible.

My one gripe is that I felt somewhat uncomfortable when it seemed Colby repeatedly was saying, "Because of self-segregation, blacks...more
Alison
Are you a White person and citizen of the United States, or do you know any such persons? If so, this book is for you! Thank you Tanner Colby for the accessible exploration; you helped me understand about redlining, the Plessy/Furguson Supreme Court decision, and a host of other examples of institutional racism in the US, and the consequences.

This is one of those books I read with pencil in hand, underlining, starring, drawing happy and sad faces throughout. Here's an example of what I found co...more
Marie Chow
Cut to the Chase:
Generally well written and interesting, this book is half-history, half-narrative: it starts really with the idea of how busing came about, takes us through White Flight, and quickly brings us to modern day, where we are more equal… but still not truly integrated. While the subject matter is interesting and Colby’s writing is clear, the book sometimes meanders into interviews and narratives in a way that makes you lose forward momentum. Despite being very interested in the topic...more
Chris Aylott
Tanner Colby jumps off from an all-too-common question -- "why do all my friends look like me?" -- and uses it for a lively exploration of the successes and failings of integration in modern America. That we still live in a mostly-segregated society is pretty obvious, but his interviews and explorations make a compelling case for why. As a society, we've moved people and money around, but we haven't really gotten the knack for building new social networks and really living together.

Colby is a st...more
marilyn
Admittedly depressing at points, as only the realization of the South's wretchedness during Jim Crow and desegregation can be, this was seriously engrossing and really educational.

"If you turn on the television these days, you hear a lot of old white people talking about this 'real America,' some apple-pie, Bedford Falls, Walt Disneyfied idea of a simpler country, a 'time of innocence' that we've lost. They're right. It's gone. We destroyed it so we wouldn't have to share it with black people."
Jill
I won an advanced copy of Tanner Colby's Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Sgtory of Integration in America from a Goodreads giveaway.

I found the book to be an eye opener. It took a different angle on the integration issue. I enjoyed his writing style but found myself having to read the book in small sections. The author often took a long time to make a point and while the little tangents would hold some value to the story, I would lose interest after a while.
Miranda
Colby's book is well-researched and illuminating, and is absolutely readable due to the author's voice and humor. The book looks at race relations and integration policies from the point of view of the people involved, presenting personal stories and quotes nestled in with historical and cultural context. After reading this book, I understand so much more about integration, mandated busing, redlining, blockbusting, and the state of race relations today. Time well spent.
Antonio
This is an important book. The author successfully addresses the issues he presents fairly and openly. He assigns blame to both sides and points out a lot of problems with the different attempts at solutions. I read a lot about race in history and this is the first book I read in a long time that gave me new insights and motivated me to adjust my thinking on integration, racism, and the economics involved.
Melissa
Meh. The first section starts out strong, but the book looses the author 1/3 of the way through. After that, though I find the topic worthwhile, I did not find the book compelling. There are better books about race out there.
Ari
Favorite line in the book: "Your average Catholic will throw an unholy temper tantrum if the priest moves the ten o'clock mass to ten thirty, never mind use the entire church as a racial experiment" (p. 249).

This was an interesting and insightful look at where our country has been and where we are now and how maybe not much has really changed in that frame of time with regard to desegregation based on race. The author's voice helped make a difficult topic accessible and engaging - I enjoy when t...more
Jess
An entertaining and absorbing read about efforts to integrate the South after Brown v Board of Ed. and the Voting Rights Act. It's a purposely limited perspective, told from the author's own personal history. This makes it okay to be heavier on anecdotal and archival evidence around small communities that stand as representatives of larger trends, like housing, school busing, and church segregation.

Colby has an easy voice to read, and I would highly recommend it to someone just starting to expl...more
Lyndsay
Sep 29, 2012 Lyndsay marked it as did-not-finish
I enjoyed the first part of the book about segregation and integration in schools but then he lost me. I was bored and started skimming and then gave up on it.
David Prybil
Liked the voice, as well as the questions it raises. However, felt like it was rather redundant, with much filler to achieve book length.
Sandy
Didn't really care for this one. Never got my attention.
Hope
An interesting premise, but, ultimately unengaging.
Martine Taylor
A segment on NPR brought this book to my attention, so when I saw it at the library, I grabbed it. I learned a lot reading this book. The history behind real estate/FHA/neighborhood blockbusting was fascinating. If I'd thought about it, I would have realized that of course, suburban sprawl was motivated by greed, but the deliberate use of fear-mongering and racism to fuel that greed was shockingly new and ugly to me. And it is interesting (and really shitty) what all of those policies did to the...more
Lisa
Excellent. And appalling. This about sums it up: "With depressing persuasiveness, the author argues that we haven't achieved racial integration, because, well, we don't really want to. ...the author's personal voice is compelling and his thesis is most disturbing. Recommended reading for anyone who still thinks we live in a post-racial America." -- Kirkus

The section dealing with real estate and the practice of redlining and block busting was a real eye-opener... block busting, when an unscrupulo...more
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