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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

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  805 Ratings  ·  173 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 b
ebook, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2012 by Viking Books
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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
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
Didn't really care for this one. Never got my attention.
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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?
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An interesting premise, but, ultimately unengaging.
May 31, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't care for this book.
Terri Lynn
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jen Mcgovern
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
May 20, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jun 05, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

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.
Jul 21, 2012 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[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
Nov 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
John Hammontree
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research-reads
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.
Feb 21, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A miss.
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: policy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” wrote James Baldwin. White author Tanner Colby decides to face the history of racial integration in the United States when he realizes that he and his fellow Obama supporters don’t have any black friends. In a country where white people sometimes gloss over how our past racism has influenced the present, Colby looks at segregation in the “everyday places where people should meet and interact, but don’t:” ...more
J 1Jacobsen
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of My Best Friends are Black, by Tanner Colby, is a non-fiction book about the development of integration in America. Colby addresses Jim Crow Laws and how those influenced our society today. It’s a different perspective on how our country developed and opens your eyes to how relevant segregation is still today. The book shows how race issues have been handled in schools, neighborhoods, religion, and in jobs. Colby realized that growing up he really only knew a few African American people, ...more
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
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
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tanner Colby navigates these troubled waters with a sense of humility and grace that I initially didn't think he could pull off. The book boils down to a set of four case studies, about integration in schools (Vestavia Hills and Birmingham), housing (Kansas City), the workplace (advertising), and the church (Grand Coteau, LA). While this does limit the scope of the book somewhat, it allows Colby to dive deeper and get at the prejudices and tensions that very often keep white and black people on ...more
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“You are the sum total of the people you meet and interact with in the world. Whether it’s your family, peers, or co-workers, the opportunities you have and the things that you learn all come through doors that other people open for you. (205)” 4 likes
“In the twenty-first century, the visions of J.C. Nichols and Walt Disney have come full circle and joined. “Neighborhoods” are increasingly “developments,” corporate theme parks. But corporations aren’t interested in the messy ebb and flow of humanity. They want stability and predictable rates of return. And although racial discrimination is no longer a stated policy for real estate brokers and developers, racial and social homogeneity are still firmly embedded in America’s collective idea of stability; that’s what our new landlords are thinking even if they are not saying it. (138)” 1 likes
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