Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is an important read that might be a bit heavy for some folks because it hits so close to home.

Book cover of All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep: Hope -- And Hard Pills to Swallow -- About Fighting for Black Lives by Andre Henry

All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep: Hope — And Hard Pills to Swallow — About Fighting for Black Lives by Andre Henry

This book does an excellent job at capturing how incredibly lonely it has become for Black people who have (or had) a racially diverse group of friends. Or in my case of being mixed, a whole side of the family that is not Black. As the author learned, and as many of us have learned, we can love people and also no longer have them in our lives. Supporting white supremacy is a deal breaker and that is at the heart of this book. Over and over, the author comes to the realization that systemic racial injustice isn’t going to be solved by individual conversations with racists. The “all we need to do is love” mentality isn’t actually effective at bringing about change.

The author covers a lot of ground through his own journey of awakening. His activism is woven through his performance art and music. His writing incorporates history about the civil rights movement, both historically and present day, both violent and nonviolent means as well. He also incorporates his knowledge of the bible, having graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena.

It was painful to read about his repeated attempts to have heartfelt, honest conversations with white and other non-Black friends and loved ones and every time it was just another punch in the face. No one was interested in having a conversation, only in being right and also being able to uphold white supremacy. Over and over with “I don’t want to talk politics” when really they mean “I don’t want to acknowledge my role in your oppression so be quiet about it.”

The author posits that we don’t actually have to convince everyone that racism is wrong to achieve justice. Maybe winning over white people should not be the main goal. He offers some concrete advice for folks in the struggle such as not debating and not engaging with trolls, whether they are anonymous or people we know. Among other things, he writes about the importance of hope in this fight, not least of all because it’s so easy to lose hope.

Content warnings for anti-Black racism and graphic descriptions of police brutality.

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That’s it for now, book-lovers!


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