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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

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,098 ratings  ·  208 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, 316 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Viking
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Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a book that should be more widely read. It's a look at the history of segregation and integration in America, and it doesn't look good.

The title Some of my Best Friends Are Black is meant to be tongue-in-cheek; Tanner Colby says he started thinking about how few black friends he had when Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election. As a member of the white middle-class, he realized his life is a good example of how segregated much of our country still is, specifically in terms of edu
Clif Hostetler
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book provides an insightful history into the American experience of attempted integration of the races. It does so by examining four aspects of everyday life—school, neighborhood, workplace, and church. Within these four sub-histories are revealed an abundance to good intentions, some success, plenty of unintended consequences, but many failures. There is much to ponder in this book of lessons learned and useful information that can perhaps be used toward bridging of racial divisions in the ...more
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
An interesting premise, but, ultimately unengaging.
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I won an advanced copy of Tanner Colby's Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story 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.
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Didn't really care for this one. Never got my attention. ...more
Jen McGovern
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I initially picked it up because it seemed like the type of book that would speak to my students' experiences- and academic books about race can be dry.

The book was well written an easy to read but I had a few issues with it. The author admits that this wasn't meant to be a research book - I was happy that he put that out there but did feel like the book would have benefitted from a more systematic way of interviewing (and a bit more laye
Aug 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
Saw this in the library and thought it was an interesting idea for a book. It got decent reviews and even an endorsement from someone associated with the Richard Nixon Library, so I figured I’d give it a try...

In the preface the author refers to Obama as the “awesomest guy ever”. He also described his friends as “enlightened, open-minded, well traveled, left-leaning white folks like me” who nonetheless didn’t have any close relationships with African Americans. It became clear that this book was
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
I hate to give this book just a 2. I learned a lot but it took me forever to get through and I guess that might be because each section seemed so disconnected. It's somewhere between "ok" and "I liked it". His approach was extremely casual. I'd like to talk to a person of color who has read it. Is his approach too casual? ...more
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
May 31, 2015 rated it did not like it
I didn't care for this book. ...more
Terri Lynn
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
Jun 05, 2014 rated it did not like it

I found this book very disappointing and, in fact, could not even finish reading it. The author is a mediocre writer at best. I've read some of his other writing recently but I will no longer read his work. One star.
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
[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
Jul 21, 2012 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.
Mid-Continent Public Library
Although not one of the newer books on the subject, I would highly recommend it to those who live in the Kansas City metro area.

This book revealed to me many aspects of the history of integration that I was not aware of. Colby chooses to focus on school integration in suburban Birmingham, the rise of the white suburban neighborhoods in Kansas City, the dividing line on Madison Avenue and the struggle to integrate the Catholic church in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. This book is chock full of dates an
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
Heather McC
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Communities are made and formed based on the relationships that we develop with each other. So what happens when schools, neighborhoods, and churches do not have the strong relationships to back them? Colby examines all kinds of communities (from the home front to the workforce) in order to determine how we relate or sometimes don't relate to each other. Confronting prejudices and past history head-on, Colby opens a dialogue that challenges readers to examine their own environment, their own way ...more
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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
John Hammontree
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book ought to be required reading in today's political climate. It's an excellent, accessible primer on the forces that created and continue to perpetuate American segregation -- especially in our schools, our neighborhoods, the workplace and the church. The book will challenge everyone's preconceptions, white or black, republican or democrat.

While I didn't always agree with Colby's conclusions, the book does a great job of establishing a narrative. It also offers a few positive examples a
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When you're white in America, life is a restricted country club by default, engineered in such a way that the problems of race rarely intrude on you personally. During the time of Jim Crow, it took a great deal of terrorism, fear, and deliberate, purposeful discrimination to keep the color line in place. What's curious about America today is that you can be white and enjoy much of the same isolation and exclusivity without having to do anything. As long as you're not the guy dumb enough to get c
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: interesting, funny
I completely forgot I read this at the beginning of sometime around March of 2020. It was for my senior reading group thingy...anyway. I remember thinking this book was exceptional, because the author analyzes America’s relationship with race through four interrelated stories: school discrimination in Birmingham school system; housing discrimination in Kansas City; the racial divide of the Madison Avenue ad world; and church-related integration in Louisiana. I live in Kansas City ...more
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, even though it was not, as I hoped, a story about how Colby managed to integrate his social circle. Instead, it's a social history of integration in four domains-- school, neighborhoods, work, and church-- and four locations: Vestavia Hills, AL; KC, MO; Madison Avenue, NYC; and Grand Coteau, LA. Along the way, Colby tells a lot of really interesting stories, some familiar and some less so. Some of the stuff on integrating advertising at the very least came from the sa ...more
Rebecca Davis
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
We live our childhoods once and spend the rest of our lives unpacking what happened to us then. For me, this will always be about race, gender, and developing the courage to challenge traditional viewpoints, because I grew up in Vestavia, Alabama, one town Tanner highlights in this terrific and personal exploration. He's funny and wise, and brutally honest, letting the story lead him places outside our current political narrative.

On his podcast he recently said that a school district is making
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Kathy jenkins
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Insightful, well-written and thought provoking look at desegregation in the US since the Civil War. Covers education, housing, advertising and religion. I’ve had numerous discussions with others as result of reading this book so that makes it a worthwhile read.
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was very interesting. I especially enjoyed the information on Kansas City and Brown vs. Board of Education.
Feb 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
A miss.
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