On Being A Better White Person

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Frederick Joseph

Speaking directly to the reader, Frederick Joseph offers powerful reflections on his own experiences with racism. As a former “token Black kid”, he now presents himself as the friend many readers need, touching on topics including cultural appropriation, “reverse racism” and white privilege. Featuring interviews with figures such as writer Angie Thomas, content creator Toni Tone, and April Reign, founder of the #OscarsSoWhite movement, this book serves as conversation starter and tool kit, creating a timely and essential read for committed anti-racists and newcomers to the cause of racial justice alike.

I received this book for free in return for an honest review.

This book is honest and educational but also kind. Speaking as a former Black friend Joseph patiently explains the problems that young Black people often face in predominantly white spaces. Aimed at teenagers, this book is more about small actions that can easily offend others in a more real and practical way.

When reading this book I was overwhelmed with how kind and patient Joseph was when talking to the reader. There was a lot of taking things in good faith and taking the time to explain things in detail and to point out small things that can easily add up. This book doesn’t cover how to fight for change on a larger scale, but is about change within yourself that can be done to make the lives of those that you care about a little bit easier.

This book is aimed at teenagers and its content has been selected carefully. Most of the personal anecdotes in this story are of racist acts committed by teenagers towards teenagers so show a much more explicit way of being a better person, that some other books on this topic don’t do as well. This book that knows that the people reading it don’t have a lot of power or influence, but shows you how to use what power you do have for good.

Furthermore, the multiple interviews throughout the book help place the stories that Joseph tells about his own life in a broader context and adds more dimension to the narrative. This helps show the reader possible next steps to being a better white person as well as the incredible work done by other people of colour. Having these section interspersed between the anecdotes helps to provide so hope that things will get better and lifts the tone of the book a little making it easier to read in one sitting.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn to be a kinder and more respectful person. By starting with careful introspection and a desire to change, this book can lead you to great places. Additionally, the list of further things to research at the back of the book helps you plan next steps on a journey to be better to your Black friends.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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