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The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  1,328 ratings  ·  291 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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Average rating 4.49  · 
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 ·  1,328 ratings  ·  291 reviews

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Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
In The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person Fredrick Joseph shares stories from his past detailing racist comments, profiling incidents, and unfair treatment he’s been subjected to as a Black man (and previously a child) in America. While he let some things go — whether he was too young to recognize the hurtful language being used or didn’t think it was worth raising at the time — Fredrick reflects on why these comments and incidents aren’t ok and how looking back now, he may have reacte ...more
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 how it includes its own encyclopedi
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
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
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Frederick Joseph has written an engaging and accessible book that would appeal to young readers. I spent a lot of my time with this book reading it aloud to my 11 year old son, which led to some really great conversations.
He touches on both interpersonal and overt racist experiences as well as the systemic racism that he experienced during his school years. The best chapter, in my opinion, was the one where he gave an example where a white family behaved in a truly anti-racist way. I think this
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
3.5 stars

When my friend Stepheny asked if anyone would be willing to read this book with her, obviously my answer was an immediate yes. Anyone following me for more than 33 seconds will have maybe noticed that I have been reading a teensy tiny bit on this topic... so any opportunity I have to read more AND share the experience with a friend is a win/win! So I snagged the audiobook, and got started. And then I read it in 2 sittings and left my poor friend in the dust. (Sorry!)

I really liked the
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
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
*Important to note that I'm not a Black person, so please read reviews by Black reviewers to truly see what their thoughts/critiques might be about this book

This book was really engaging and had some really important messages and stories which I found myself, as a POC feel seen through. I liked how the chapters were divided into these themes, but almost seemed like rules or niches of things that white people do (consciously or unconsciously) that’s racist or cultural appropriation. I found mysel
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
Hannah J
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for white people who want to start learning more about racism and how to be more anti-racist in day to day interactions. I would especially recommend it to young adults.
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
Briayna Cuffie
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*Disclaimer* I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for a fair/honest review.


Important context: This book is written for a YA audience, and I am a Black woman. This is important to note, given that some of the purposely low reviews on here from white people are annoying as hell (to put it nicely), and demonstrate that they don’t know how to 1) approach YA books as an adult, and 2) don’t understand how hard it is to essentially plea for hu
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!
Ivonne Rovira
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
Frederick Joseph’s The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person is one part memoir, one part guide for Caucasians seeking to become allies — or, in better parlance, accomplices in bringing about equity and racial justice. The work is a bit uneven, although Joseph brings in some celebrity friends to spice things up. However, Joseph’s final chapter provides such a wakeup call with an episode in which one person made a lifetime’s worth of difference; I award the book five stars on that alone. I ...more
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
I would compare this book to “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo and probably say that these two books, in my opinion, are the best books to read for people who need an introduction to the concepts of race and racism. “The Black Friend” is great in that it is suitable for younger audiences (teens/high school).

As a person of colour and a scholar on the topic of racism in schools, I think I’m considerably knowledgeable about race. I know the title is about being a better white person
Nov 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book is not honest commentary on racism or America. Its just the point of view of one black man who sees Whites as racist, which itself is racist.
Krisette Spangler
Jan 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm having a hard time reviewing this book. On one hand, it really is important for all of us to try to understand other cultures and racism in America. I really did want to know what was hard about being black in America. The author did cover those topics, and I was grateful to learn some things I didn't know. However, I'm not sure if the author would find me to be a good friend. He feels people are racist, when sometimes I don't think people are trying to be racist. They might just be clueless ...more
Feb 11, 2021 rated it liked it
While it’s clear that this targeted at a white audience and it will definitely help some of them. I wasn’t entirely clear on the age group that this book was targeted towards. As ARC from NetGalley it has it geared to children’s non-fiction and there were some moments that were great direction points to educate the audience. There were some good anecdotal moments that I related to as a Black woman that I experienced during my teens and the sound bites from activists was an interesting take. Howe ...more
Christi Flaker
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded up.

This is a very approachable book for young adults to put racism in the spotlight using the authors real life stories. He then backs up the point with different "interviews" with a variety of individuals.

The author has a lot of stop and talk to the audience moments to address different pop culture or to make sure the reader knows about the topic he is addressing. These kind of got tired after a bit and so I almost gave this book a lower rating BUT I remembered the audience th
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
At the end of this book, the author discusses how hard it was for him to write about his experiences with racism of all kinds, and how he was doing it as a gift for white readers in order to help them learn more and be better. I'm a white woman who is trying to listen and learn, and I just want to say that I sincerely appreciate this book and will be sure to pass it along to other readers and place it on our recommended reads lists at my library. ...more
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I honestly cannot stress enough white people need to read this book. “ but it’s important to understand that this book is a gift, not an obligation. The gift is in the form of an opportunity.”
There are so many life altering quotes in this book. Thank you Frederick for sharing your story for all of us white people that want to be accomplices.
As Frederick Joseph says, "While this book is meant ot be a guide for white people to understand and be better, it is important that white people also understand that it isn't the duty of Black people, or people of color to explain things. I'm doing so because I hope it can ultimately make a change for my community." And he does explain things, so passionately. He explains why saying, "I don't see color."ignores the struggle and racism right in front of you. How appropriating the culture of othe ...more
Kyle Smith
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really good for young readers.
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 - I loved the interviews and the anecdotes were good. However, especially if geared toward teenagers, it does not seem to provide any hope that creating allies/"accomplices" is feasible.

Note: This was obviously written for white American audiences with the assumption that their families have been in the US 200+yrs. The information in the book is valuable for everyone but if you are from a white ethnic family or are from a white country other than the US, you may not appreciate some of the ge
Risa Hunter
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The subtitle “On being a better white person” hooked me, and the conversations the author has with other people of color kept me reading and learning. Along with the book “Caste,” this gave me so much to think about as we continue to look at the effects of racism on our country.
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this more than 5 stars. I wish I could sit down with Mr. Joseph and have a conversation.

Barring that, go read this book. Especially if you are white, READ THIS BOOK.
Stephany Pachowka
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is a gift from Frederick Joseph. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow. He gives us the tools to be better. But mostly it’s a handbook for white people and how not to be racist assholes. Its a blend of his personal stories and interviews with people of color. He didn’t have to write this book but he did to help us help his community. To be an ally or as Frederick says “accomplices” we need to educate ourselves and listen to BIPOCs stories.

Many times I grew frustrated and angry reading
Luke Dreier
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Frederick notes this is nothing new that he shares in this book but it is indeed a unique look into deeply personal stories and thought. He did not have to share any of this as it’s not the authors job to teach these things but I am glad he did. This book truly changed my life.
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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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  If you listen to NPR regularly, you’ve likely heard the voice of Shankar Vedantam, the longtime science correspondent and host of the radio...
8 likes · 1 comments
“Black children have to lose their innocence before white children do. They can't afford the luxury of just reading about the impact of racism and white supremacy in a book, because they're living it every day. Because oftentimes it means life or death.” 4 likes
“Black people and people of color are taught in school, in the media, and in everyday interactions to be empathetic and understanding of white people and their history. But most white people never have to do the same for us.” 1 likes
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