• Black American Refugee

  • Escaping the Narcissism of the American Dream
  • By: Tiffanie Drayton
  • Narrated by: Tiffanie Drayton
  • Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (76 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Named "most anticipated" book of February by Marie Claire, Essence, and A.V. Club

"…extraordinary and representative." (NPR)

"Drayton explores the ramifications of racism that span generations, global white supremacy, and the pitfalls of American culture." (Shondaland)

After following her mother to the US at a young age to pursue economic opportunities, one woman must come to terms with the ways in which systematic racism and resultant trauma keep the American Dream inaccessible to Black people.

In the early '90s, young Tiffanie Drayton and her siblings left Trinidad and Tobago to join their mother in New Jersey, where she'd been making her way as a domestic worker, eager to give her children a shot at the American Dream. At first, life in the US was idyllic. But chasing good school districts with affordable housing left Tiffanie and her family constantly uprooted--moving from Texas to Florida then back to New Jersey. As Tiffanie came of age in the suburbs, she began to ask questions about the binary Black and white American world. Why were the Black neighborhoods she lived in crime-ridden, and the multicultural ones safe? Why were there so few Black students in advanced classes at school, if there were any advanced classes at all? Why was it so hard for Black families to achieve stability? Why were Black girls treated as something other than worthy?

Ultimately, exhausted by the pursuit of a "better life" in America, twenty-year old Tiffanie returns to Tobago. She is suddenly able to enjoy the simple freedom of being Black without fear, and imagines a different future for her own children. But then COVID-19 and widely publicized instances of police brutality bring America front and center again. This time, as an outsider supported by a new community, Tiffanie grieves and rages for Black Americans in a way she couldn't when she was one. 

An expansion of her New York Times piece of the same name, Black American Refugee examines in depth the intersection of her personal experiences and the broader culture and historical ramifications of American racism and global white supremacy. Through thoughtful introspection and candidness, Tiffanie unravels the complex workings of the people in her life, including herself, centering Black womanhood, and illuminating the toll a lifetime of racism can take. Must Black people search beyond the shores of the "land of the free" to realize emancipation? Or will the voices that propel America's new reckoning welcome all dreamers and dreams to this land?

©2021 Tiffanie Drayton (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Drayton has written an engaging book, which is one of my favorite kinds to read. There are things I agree with, there are things I disagree with, there are things that are new to me. I hope everyone reads it for that reason."
Trevor Noah, The Daily Show

"Drayton’s rich storytelling reveals the complex roles ‘victims’ and ‘abusers’ play in ‘American racial stratification’ and offers a path toward healing for both. Those seeking to better understand the long-term effects of racism should pick this up." —Publishers Weekly

"…extraordinary and representative." —NPR

What listeners say about Black American Refugee

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  • Overall
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The Book I Always Wanted to Write

Ms. Drayton's comparison of the United States to an abusive romantic partner beautiful and thoroughly illustrates an analogy I've had for years. I suppose many people have had this idea, which makes it so relatable. Her story is similar to many stories and I'm thankful that she shared it with us. Both mundane and inspiring, this is a book that can benefit anyone who has ever spent time in or near the United States of America.

2 people found this helpful

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Facing the truth of America-the fallacy of the American Dream

Truth will set you free. The author lays out a thorough and compelling premise that America has an abusive relationship with people of color. She is fortunate that she had a viable option for living a life elsewhere.

1 person found this helpful

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Betrayal and Emotional Domestic Violence

At first I was confused, but once the character engaged me and I understood where the story was going and why I found this book to be valuable and enlightening.

Comparing betrayal and broken promises by what you love and who you love comes across strong. A very interesting style of personal and historical. I recommend this book.

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Amazing Read

this confirms for me its time to get out. Nothing will ever change, and I need freedom and peace. A must read!

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Loved it

Great story. Great narration. Im a truck driver and listend to the whole book straight through.

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Genius

Brilliant insights into America acting on the world stage as a narcissistic abuser.

Painful, harsh truths delivered with humility.

Highly recommend.

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Fenominal read

This book is healing through it truth about reality and not the ignoring of the daily abuse of BW by the hands of society in all its pressures to assimilate that abuse to others.

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An American must read...a tribute to West Indians

Very well written; great storytelling
A love story to Trinidad and Tobago 🇹🇹 ❤️

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Clear understanding

Although I am older than the authot, and had a very different experience growing up here in America, many of the authors experiences of living Black in America are all to familiar.

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Loved it.

Author was great, it felt so real and personal for me, I connected emotionally with her story. Great read ,brought clarity on many issues of the USA