You Can Keep That to Yourself: A Comprehensive List of What Not To Say to Black People, for Well-Intentioned People of Pallor

Akashic. Sept. 2020. 136p. ISBN 9781617758966. $15.95. SOC SCI
Lawyer Smyer’s (Knucklehead) guidebook for smarter conversations with friends, acquaintances, and coworkers is by turns funny, sarcastic, and possibly true for many Black (and non-Black) Americans. Smyer lists the taboo words and phrases that he argues should not be used by white people in conversation with Black people, all in alphabetical order. For example, the letter “A” is used to explain why people should reconsider using the word ally, and why calling a Black person articulate is not a compliment. Other instances of sometimes well-meaning but often racist phrases and terms include “I’m Not a Racist But,” “Funky,” “I Don’t See Color,” and “Ghetto.” While there is humor throughout, there is also a strong sense of anger, annoyance, and weariness when it comes to the Black experience in Trump’s America. And though Smyer is addressing white people specifically, his humor can be appreciated by anyone who needs a good chuckle (and an education).
VERDICT A funny, biting take on U.S. race relations. Smyer will give readers a good laugh in tumultuous times.

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