Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend: Notes from the Other Side of the Fist Bump

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Humor allows difficult truths to be revealed. Ben Philippe’s autobiography is a collection of essays that reveal the author’s early experiences of Blackness as a Haitian immigrant to Canada and his awakening to the racial dynamics and realities in the United States. In sharing stories about fitting in, immigration, and racial thriving, Philippe uses the opportunity to illuminate his readers about racist slights and aggression, even by those who profess solidarity with racial equity.

Living in New York City as a French-speaking Ivy League graduate with a budding writing career, Philippe’s stories elucidate the complexities of race, national origin, class, and gender through deeply personal anecdotes. While Philippe confesses that he wrote this book primarily for white people, anyone can learn valuable lessons about divesting performative “wokeness.” Reading the book from my perspective as an immigrant, the stories are recognizable to newcomers who have experienced the pain of displacement from familiar comforts.

Each essay is disarming; each revelation goes beyond what one might expect from a book about being a willing accomplice to self-congratulatory white allyship. Philippe’s stories serve to refute persistent stereotypes of what it’s like to be Black in America. He notes that his Blackness is “Ben-shaped,” referring to the novel convergence of family dynamics, personal idiosyncrasies, and racial encounters that make this book hard to put down.


Reviewed By:

Author Ben Philippe
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Harper Perennial
Publish Date 27-Apr-2021
ISBN 9780063026445
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue September 2021
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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