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

Harper Perennial. Apr. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9780063065062 LHC; 9780063026445 $26.99;. MEMOIR
What does it mean to be someone’s “Black friend”? How do Black men navigate predominantly white spaces? And how does an awkward Haitian Canadian immigrant survive in the United States? In this memoir debut, Philippe, an author of YA novels (Charming as a Verb), tells of his attempts—some successful, others not so much—to figure answer these questions. Through a series of humorous essays, Philippe chronicles his international life as the immigrant son of a young nurse and an ambitious but wayward father, and his days as a student at Columbia University. Along the way, he describes slights from people he calls “well-meaning” white Americans, narrow perceptions of Black people in Canada and the United States, and adulthood during the Obama and Trump administrations. The book is strong throughout, but the author’s writing resonates most when discussing his college years, the diversity of the Black diaspora, and what not to say to Black people.
VERDICT Philippe has created a funny, and at times harrowing, memoir of his experience as a Black man. Fans of similar memoirs, such as Damon Young’s What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, will enjoy the irreverence and recognize themselves in these pages.
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