Disclosure: I received this complimentary product (Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy) through Raincoast Books. Affiliate Links will be used, thank you for your support of my blog, costs you nothing to do so. 🙂
I have been having interesting conversation with my 16 year old lately, so when I was at the Honda Dealership the other day I brought this book along .. Uncomfortable Conversations with a black boy .. with me. I was anticipating a story type book with some questions at the end of it. Questions that I could then take home and use as a conversation starter with my lad. That’s not quite what I received. No stories, just tons of questions posited in a conversational style. Not quite what I expected. So let’s take and moment and talk shall we?
The author’s premise and details
The author’s premise, is that through conversation, deep, open conversation we can more or less FIX the problems of racism. That is necessary to have these deep conversations in order to make the world a better place for everyone in it.
I can understand where he’s coming from. He wants to open the eyes of people who aren’t black to the world as he sees it. And if you can understand where a person is coming from, or… walk a mile in his shoes… you can better appreciate their day to day struggles and successes.
So over the course of 13 chapers, divided into three sections, he asks a lot of questions. Such as .. when you took history.. did you learn about black history? When you succeeded in life … did your parents help you along the way? Did you go to a school where teachers cared if you succeeded or failed? Can you lose your life if someone tells a lie about you? Do you think reverse racism exists?
Throughout this 320 page book, he couples these questions with his answers, providing insights that you might not have been aware of. Available in Kindle and hardcover, it is geared to youth 10-14.
Roaring Book Press published the hardcover copy that I received for my review for Raincoast Books. This tome is a youth version of Uncomfortable Conversations with a black man, named after a series of talks hosted by Emmanuel Acho entitled “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”.
Breaking it down
As I mentioned earlier, 13 chapters, three sections.
First section: Me and You. The section has six chapters along with an introductory chapter. These chapters include such questions as Black or African American? What do you see when you see me? Is there such a thing as white privilege? What about cultural appropriation? and more.
Second Section: Us and Them. In this section of four chapters Acho brings up systemis racism, reverse racism, who’s govening the government and justice for some.
Third section: We. Three chapters about fixing racism, how we can fight for change, and to be an ally for folks.
That’s not the end though, he closes off with a variety of short talks, references, websites and resources.
Some Specifics about Uncomfortable Conversations with a black boy
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy contains a number of quotes, questions and shall I say it… conversation starters. For instance: What do you do with a bunch of angry people? Anger exists on both sides of this issue… is it always justified? No. But often times it is. And either way, the anger still exists. But this is the type of question asked in order to get us thinking and having conversations.
Thought-provoking quotes grace the start of each chapter. Don’t you just love quotes that make you think? 🙂
Need to figure out good discussion questions for your students? Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy will help you come up with all sorts of discussion questions.
Each new section opens with a page like the following. Those conversation bubbles also tend to proceed question asked within the following pages.
I think that teachers will adore this book, or if not adore, find it a useful tool in learning how to think, or consider ideas or rather … perspectives they might not have considered before. It has great value in presenting questions, and giving the ideas behind those questions. Promoting good class room conversation.
As a book to read, I was less than enamoured. I found Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy to be preachy, and at times wrong. Like saying the black people can’t be racist because they don’t hold systemic power? ANYONE can be racist, in a position of power or not. I also refuse to believe that circumstances completely keep people from changing their lives. Part of my struggle with this read I explained on instagram. If you approach life from the paradigm of faith in God you can clearly see how just conversation is not the answer. Can it help? For sure. But ultimately, it’s not how racism will be solved. We are, as a people, thoroughly broken by sin invading our lives. The only answer truly… is God.
Does Acho try? Yes, he does. He goes an excellent job of encouraging us to ask difficult questions and to dig deep within ourselves as we answer those questions. No surfacey … just say something nice to make him go away stuff… but a demand that we do more. Acho really wants us to think and to grapple with these questions… in community.