“The beautiful thing about the piano is that you got white keys and you got black keys. And the only way to make the most beautiful, magnificent, and poetic noise is with both sets of keys working in tandem. You can’t just play all white keys, because you won’t maximize what the instrument has to offer. You can’t just play all black keys, because you won’t maximize what the instrument has to offer. But integrate the white and black keys together, and that is when the piano makes a joyful noise.”– Emmanuel Acho, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”
For those interested in topics of race, for well meaning white people who want to use affirming language and hear experiences of what it is like to be Black in America, I highly recommend Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. For many, books like Stamped may not be accessible. They may be too intimidating in length or too academic. This book is neither of those things. It reads like a conversation and you’ll feel like you’re having a chat with the author.
For those not new to the conversation on race, a good deal of what is covered in this book will simply fit in with what you’ve already learned. But if you’re new to the conversation, this book will draw you in. Acho is kind but firm in what is helpful and what is harmful to Black people, and those new to the conversation are sure to find themselves surprised, and probably a little uncomfortable as the title suggests. Don’t let this scare you away. Racism and its effects should make us all uncomfortable. After all, those living under its effects don’t get to “put the book down” or take a break.
This book isn’t an authoritative treatise on race. It’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be an entry point into self-education for white people. The author does an excellent job of not mincing words or paring down material and yet still maintains an inviting tone for those who genuinely want to do better and understand more about the myriad ways in which America must improve. When we know better, we can do better.
“To clarify: defunding the police doesn’t mean abolishing the police, though there are more radical calls for that, too. It instead means redirecting money from police budgets to other government agencies funded by the city. Defunding the police could mean more money for underfunded schools, for mental health programs, or for drug recovery programs, all of which can help to reduce crime.”– Emmanuel Acho, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”
- easy to digest with short chapters that allow for pause and reflection
- simple directions on how to improve relationships with people you might already know and how to work for systemic improvement
- I am not qualified to determine the cons of this book. It’s one man’s experience and his experience is vastly different from mine. If you want to know more about the drawbacks of this book, please look for reviews from Black readers.
“Do good work, but don’t make the mistake of caring more about your intentions than about the impact of your intentions, or seeking out gratitude or praise. Make sure you aren’t engaged in optical allyship—the kind that goes only so far as it takes to get the right post for social media. True allyship is a commitment to fight this fight for the long haul: long after it ceases to be a top-of-the-fold news item, long after the cameras have stopped capturing it. Not today, but tomorrow, next week, next year, next decade.”– Emmanuel Acho, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”
- Those new to conversations on race.
- Those wanting to learn directly from a black man what his experiences are like in the United States
- Ancho’s sports fans
Books to Read if You Loved Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man:
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (see my review here)
- Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits by Emmanuel Acho (same author!)
Let’s Discuss! (Pick a question and drop a comment with your reply!)
- What are some good resources or books you have read about race in America?