By Author / Illustrator
Representation & Inclusion
Walker Books Ltd
Paperback / softback
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.
The tone of Frederick Joseph's book is always engaging and conversational. In the guise of a 'friend', he charts some of his experiences of racism in a book that is part-memoir and part-guidebook - offering the intended teenage audience the chance to become better allies and accomplices to the black community. Its message is one of being actively anti-racist rather than simply attempting to say the right things.
Using his own experiences, and those of admired friends and colleagues, he particularly references incidents in educational settings and teenage years and his own gradual transition from 'token black friend' to a much more militant position. A highly personal book, Joseph covers and gives his take on topics such as white privilege, reverse-racism, cultural appropriation and the Black Lives Matter movement.
This book has been described as a 'conversation-starter' and I think that is an ideal description. It's a passionate and timely introduction to a topic that the YA audience are increasingly aware of and engaged in. Although it's about racism, I think there is also an underlying theme about being kinder and more thoughtful. More aware of your privileges and the consequences of your words and actions. This is a book that many young people (and their parents) will find useful and informative.
272 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 11+