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The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  85 ratings  ·  42 reviews
From the perspective of the friend everyone should have, Frederick Joseph offers an essential read for white people who want to be better about race—and people of color who long to see their experiences validated.

“We don’t see color.” “I didn’t know Black people liked Star Wars!” “What hood are you from?” For Frederick Joseph, life in a mostly white high school as a smart
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 1st 2020 by Candlewick Press
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Lu - luentreletras
This books was amazing. I enjoyed reading it a lot because I learned more about racism in the United States and also I learned about Black culture and how racism affects it.
Frederick Joseph's style of writing is very direct and easy to understand, which I believe is perfect for this book because the idea is that people reading it can learn from it and become better people who start taking action against systemic racism. It is a really didactic book and I loved haow it includes its own encycloped
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 14-and-15
Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of The Black Friend in exchange for an honest review.

In The Black Friend, author Frederick Joseph seeks to educate white people on how to become better people by improving their perceptions of and actions towards racial minorities (obviously mostly Black specific racism, but this book does also extend to other racial minorities in a lot of its chapters) through a combination of personal antidotes, interviews with other Black people & activists, an En
Oct 30, 2020 rated it did not like it
One of the most racist books I’ve ever read. If you enjoy the unfair use of statements about race to try to influence the actions or attitudes of a particular group of people. The author sees all of human relations reduced to a rudimentary correlation of skin color and inequality, an analysis we used to call racist — has decided that the culture must be cleansed of all of those who will not be drafted into its woke army. The book has the guise of being opposed to racism while actually having a p ...more
There’s a lot to like about this book.

Things I appreciated:
* Frederick Joseph’s intent.
* catchy title and great cover art
* his recaps of conversations with a number of authors, activists, and social commentators, including Angie Thomas, April Reign, and Tarell Alvin McCraney.
* the breadth of topics covered. The discussion around appropriation versus appreciation was very thorough.

Issues I had:
* Joseph’s tone. He presents himself as the Black “friend,” but there’s a strong self-congratulatory
Zoe's Human
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When adults ask me for non-fiction books on topics that are new to them, I often steer them towards the middle-grade and young-adult sections. Many books intended for youth are perfect for beginners of any age, and adult books often assume more knowledge than a novice has.

While intended for teens, The Black Friend is a book I'll be recommending to adults as well. This is an almost perfect primer on anti-racism for white folks age 12 and up. There is a glossary defining common and important terms
Oct 07, 2020 is currently reading it
Looking forward to this one!
Nov 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: publisher-gift
When I was 13, the staff of the psychiatric ward where I spent some time were very fond of saying, "Sometimes in life you have to do things you don't want to." Mr. Joseph begins his introduction with this timeworn cliche but claims that this is a Black people thing. It would have been the perfect time to establish a sense of shared humanity (especially when writing for teenagers!) but the author drops the ball and never bothers to pick it up. Repeatedly, the author misses a teachable moment that ...more
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
Nov 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
"Knowing your children will one day be forced to read my book on anti-racism in school on your tax dollars makes me so happy." - Frederick Joseph 11.06.20

I dont't agree in any way with the pretense of this book, that white people would have to work on themselves, to make this world a better place for other races. As with all races it is on the blacks themselves to shape their community through hard work and christian morals.
This book is looking away at the real problems, which are the lack of m
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
WOW. I loved this book so much! I know that Frederick’s goal for this book was done by me: it’s absolutely made me want to be a better white person and not be an ally, but an accomplice. Frederick taught me a lot, opened my mind, and really allowed me to see the tiny micro aggressions I didn’t even consciously know I had.

Essential reading!
Danielle Masterson
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for this eARC.

Everyone needs a friend, and Frederick Joseph opens himself up in such a way that you feel like you want to be his friend. Taking this journey with him through his personal experiences, you feel his pain, and also learn how you can make changes for the better in your own (white) life.

I will definitely purchase for my library. I feel like this is a book that my mostly white town NEEDS.
Reading on the Rocks
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, arc
Thanks to LibraryThing and Candlewick Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Frederick Jospeh’s debut novel is an excellent anti-racist read for anyone of any age. As an introduction to anti-racist literature for teens, Joseph explains issues of racism and inequality in such a clear and poignant way that I know teens will really get a lot out of the book. By recounting his experiences as a teen and young adult, Joseph is relatable and offers important reflection so white p
Nov 30, 2020 added it
Thank you Candlewick Press & NetGalley for sending me an ARC of The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Frederick Joseph. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I want to start this review off by saying I am a brown woman and in no way do I want to speak over Black people on these issues faced in the book and in our general society. I have the sincerest amount of respect, love, and admiration for the people who are continuing to fight for equality and the end of white supremacy. While
This book will make many readers uncomfortable--and that's actually a good thing since it encourages deep reflection, self-examination, open-mindedness, and action. Relying on 10 short chapters containing his thoughts and other social activists, including Angie Thomas, April Reign, Saira Rao, the author covers a lot of territory here as he demystifies parts of Black culture and challenges some commonly-held assumptions some whites have about Blacks. Among them are the notion that being color bli ...more
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-books
“While this book is meant to be a guide for white people to understand and be better, it’s important that white people also understand that it isn’t the duty of Black people or people of color to explain things.” – Chapter 10: We Don’t Care What Your Black, Brown, or Asian Friend Said was Okay (F.U.B.U.)
Author Frederick Joseph began writing this book several years ago.  During the course of his writing, Frederick admits that at times he felt unable to write with the events unfolding around him. 
Corinne Edwards
In this book, Frederick Joseph chooses to speak directly to young people (although those of us no longer *young* absolutely can find as much value in it) and explain ways in which white people, in particular, can stop doing harm and start doing better. It's a large subject to tackle but one that is so necessary and the author does so with humor and the right amount of justified saltiness for his intended audience. He is blunt and vulnerable about his own experiences and envisions how things coul ...more
Raven Gilbert
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in 1 day. White people this book is not an accusatory, rage book- it is simply an honest account of Frederick Joseph’s life. His experiences reflecting what a Black boy, teen & finally a young man has gone through. He is not pointing fingers, he is taking your pulse. I guarantee that you will see aspects of yourself in both the good and bad treatments he has gone through. The Black Friend is showing you from inside a Black man’s heart how you can and should be an accomplice to h ...more
Erica Martin
Dec 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I feel like this was a missed opportunity. Everything that comes before “The Encyclopedia of Racism” is somewhat condescending in tone, the language simplified, as if explaining matters to a child.

Yeaaaah, no. I don't care what the subject is, nobody wants to feel talked down to. Frederick presented personal situations, but I feel like a better way to draw empathy would have been to write those sections in a close 2nd POV, or a closer 1st person POV. As in, they read as summaries. We're not real
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jospeh's frank and direct purpose here is to bring change in the racist attitudes and actions of whites. Short chapters address a variety of related topics, drawing on his own experiences. Joseph includes interviews/conversations with other influential artists and activists.

Joseph speaks here to an audience much hipper than I am. Let's face it - as a 70 + white woman whose playlist is folk, 60's rock, Jimmy Buffet and 50's jazz, his cultural references are way over my head ;-) But these will def
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
NetGalley ARC | The Black Friend by Frederick Joseph is one of the December 2020 book releases you don’t want to skip, especially if you've committed to doing antiracist work as a white person.

Joseph discusses racism and how to be a better white person, drawing from interviews and conversations with prominent and powerful members of the Black community.

What makes The Black Friend such a strong Antiracism 101 book is how Joseph uses his own personal stories to show racist policies and forces in
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one best books I've read on race and anti-racism this year. Mr Joseph is an engaging and empathetic writer. While I found his experiences as a black man in the US infuriating and heart-breaking, it was an honour to be allowed to hear them. He explains issues from white supremacy to microaggressions clearly and with concrete examples. I especially loved the encyclopaedia in the back. As an older woman living outside the US for the past 10 years, I needed some of his cultural references ex ...more
Brenda Kahn
There's a lot to like here. The tone is conversational and friendly. So conversational though that I thought it would work better as a TED talk or YouTube series, where his personality could shine. Lots of digressions, which, at first, I found charming and diverting, but later, intrusive and annoying. Make no mistake though, I agree with everything he said, even though it got a tad repetitive and man-splainish. We white-folk need to do better. My last quibble had to do with a comment made near t ...more
Book Bound
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Black Friend: On Being A Better White Person is an extraordinary book that is a must read, especially because of the current fight for social equality. Serving as a guide to white people on how to not just be an ally, but to truly fight for the equality of all people, Joseph uses personal anecdotes to further emphasize his points and create a sense of friendship between himself and the reader. An especially interesting characteristic of this is the Encyclopedia of Racism located in the end o ...more
Paula McFarlin
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
*I received an arc of this book through librarything.*

This was a really insightful read. The tone is conversational and anecdotal and even comes with a section in the back that further explains concepts or phrases you might not know. It feels like the author is having a 1 on 1 conversation with you about the problematic things we might do and things that should be common knowledge, but just aren’t. I think people that will have an issue with this book are the same people committing micro-aggress
Thieving Magpie
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Nothing I could possibly say could give this book justice. Read it. Seriously, go and read it. And keep reading it. Keep talking about it. It's an amazing book and so important in this world. Five stars is definitely not enough for it and I will take me all of this book to heart like every white person reading this book should. It's very educational and a definite Must Read in times like these. Actually, it's always a Must Read because racism has been existing for far too long.
I received an ARC
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be quite compelling. Frederick Joseph sets out to be the "Black friend" who helps the reader to do better and be better around issues of racism. He spoke directly and honestly to the reader about his experiences growing up Black. Joseph's friendly and informal tone made his stories and ideas accessible to a teen reader.

I received a free ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I don't say this about many ARCs, but I will definitely buy a copy of this book when i
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was such an excellent book. I read it in bursts on my lunch break, easily picking up where I left off to get lost in the accessible tone and voice Frederick Joseph uses in his storytelling (and educating). His authenticity and frankness made this book refreshing, even when he shared heavy and heartbreaking themes. Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of The Black Friend in exchange for an honest review.
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I took an advanced copy I won with me on a trip. I read the whole book on the plane. This book was so well written. I want it to reach everyone I know, regardless of race. I felt empowered and enlightened. Each anecdote included some very powerful and thought provoking messages. This book made me aware of my own shortcomings and ignorance when it comes to other cultures and races. I would like to consider this book a necessary read for your own growth.
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. I wanted to learn from this book. I was offended by this book. The stories he told and the interviews he conducted deeply affected me. They made me want to be a better person. His little side notes and attempt at humor were horrible and unnecessary. This book was a huge letdown and a disappointment to me.
In an enjoyable but firm conversational tone, Frederick Joseph designed this book to be frank with readers, the way a good friend might be if you did something unintentionally hurtful and now must make amends. It's no longer ok for white people to be oblivious and "color blind" to race, and Frederick Joseph lays out why that is in The Black Friend.
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Frederick Joseph is an award-winning marketing professional, media representation advocate, and writer who was recently selected for the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. He’s also the winner of the 2018 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, given by Comic-Con International: San Diego, and was selected for the 2018 Root 100 List of Most Influential African Americans. He lives in New York City.

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