• The Black Friend

  • On Being a Better White Person
  • By: Frederick Joseph
  • Narrated by: Miebaka Yohannes
  • Length: 5 hrs and 9 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (397 ratings)

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The Black Friend  By  cover art

The Black Friend

By: Frederick Joseph
Narrated by: Miebaka Yohannes
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Publisher's Summary

Writing from the perspective of a friend, Frederick Joseph offers candid reflections on his own experiences with racism and conversations with prominent artists and activists about theirs - creating an essential listen for white people who are committed anti-racists and those newly come to the cause of racial justice.

“We don’t see color.” “I didn’t know Black people liked Star Wars!” “What hood are you from?” For Frederick Joseph, life as a transfer student in a largely white high school was full of wince-worthy moments that he often simply let go. As he grew older, however, he saw these as missed opportunities not only to stand up for himself, but to spread awareness to those white people who didn’t see the negative impact they were having. 

Speaking directly to the listener, The Black Friend calls up race-related anecdotes from the author’s past, weaving in his thoughts on why they were hurtful and how he might handle things differently now. Each chapter features the voice of at least one artist or activist, including Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give; April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite; Jemele Hill, sports journalist and podcast host; and 11 others. Touching on everything from cultural appropriation to power dynamics, “reverse racism” to white privilege, microaggressions to the tragic results of overt racism, this book serves as conversation starter, tool kit, and invaluable window into the life of a former “token Black kid” who now presents himself as the friend many listeners need. Includes an encyclopedia of racism, providing details on relevant historical events, terminology, and more. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2020 by Frederick Joseph, original book published by Candlewick Press. (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"With a commanding, but still friendly and relatable presence, narrator [Miebaka] Yohannes gives authentic voice to the exasperation, fear, and anger; as well as the pride and hope of author Frederick Joseph’s experiences as the 'Black friend.'" - Booklist

"Narrator Miebaka Yohannes replicates the inviting conversational tone of Frederick Joseph's audiobook…. The balance of humor and sincerity creates a powerful audio for parents and teens to share." - AudioFile Magazine, An Earphones Award Winner

The Black Friend is THE book everyone needs to read right now. Frederick Joseph has written an essential window into the movement toward anti-racism. Read it, absorb it, and be changed because of it.” - Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give 

What listeners say about The Black Friend

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Not really a friend and not friendly

The content is only somewhat helpful. It is very hard to understand exactly what he wants. He literally says he does not want white people to view him as a human being, but instead as a rich black history, soul food, etc. But then he tells how appalling it is when others assume that all black people like rap music. He lectures you about not generalizing and then he calls a group of popular girls in his high school "mean girls, like in the mean girls movie, and I'll call each of them Ashley, because they all looked like Ashley." What is this??? His attitude is appalling. He trashes every white person who TRIED to do their best to be friendly to him because they said things the wrong way or responded the wrong way. He exonerates himself of any responsibility for taking advantage of his "cool black friend" position in high school because at the time "he didn't know any better," but he expects every white person somehow be fully informed (from the age they start talking) about how to treat him exactly the way he wants now (he didn't even always know himself how he wants to be treated by white people). And the level of condescending and blame is very hard to bear. In his view every white person is responsible for the trauma caused by people who looked like them. So if you are white--you are responsible for Tulsa massacre. Yep, even if you are 10 years old. Apparently his attitude got worse over the years. In his prologue that he wrote back in 2020 he went from viewing himself as sort of a condescending lecturer to a martyr. Yes, he described himself (literally) as a martyr who is going to die of COVID because of the privilege that white people have. The book was essentially 5 hours of emotional abuse, accusation, and condescending. Frederick and I will definitely not be friends.

25 people found this helpful

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How to be racist 101

The name of this book truly should be, ‘How to be Racist 101’. An exact quote from the book is, “White people just aren't intresting. All they know are other white things."

If you are looking for a biased book to make you feel good about your own weird racist views then this is the book for you (I’m not even going to go into his credibility).

15 people found this helpful

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Captivating Listen-Eye Opening-Must Share!

I was so looking forward to reading this book! And very happy it was available on Audible!
I really appreciated the tone and message of the book! I read it straight thru- couldn’t put it down! I recognized my previously ignored white privilege as the stories unfolded (painful at times to listen thru the details) Loved the interviews with artists and activists! I have shared with all my friends who are on a similar journey of self improvement!
Thank you for this- a book certain to spread awareness and make the world a kinder, more beautiful place!

10 people found this helpful

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Very Good, But...

As a gay white male, I found this book's strengths to be his sharing his story, analyzing personal experiences, sharing his pain & the wisdom he gained. I appreciated his taking the time to make white people understand. He certainly didn't have to do that. I cringed when I recognized myself in some of the situations he described.

However, it did get somewhat muddy between what was his personal opinion, such as taste in music and what was a more broader directive to white people. Plus his arrogance really got annoying. The snide go look it up,' you're welcome' tone was offputting.

And the Oppresion Olympics chapter - appalling. While I fully supported him in his efforts to make sure the election playing field was fair; based on his description it certainly wasn't. And the irony in the chapter title - priceless. Yep, Frederick, you did an amazing job shutting up the gay guy. Well done. Then while he's bragging about how he won the election by a landslide, do we hear about what he actually did? Nope. It was all about his ego & winning. Did he say what he did for students of color, women or the LGBT community? No. Now, maybe that's a high expectation to place on that role, but given his narrative, it would have made the chapter more palatable to hear he was using his role constructively.

While I'll give him partial credit for raving about Moonlight, Frederick, you're acting like the white people you complain about. Gay oppression existed before that Oscar flick. I encourage you to continue on your journey as well.

All in all, I'm glad I read the book. Someone sharing their story & making me realize the things I take for granted & waking me up - thank you. I wish we were friends in real life. I'm sure you could teach me more about being a better white person. S

7 people found this helpful

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You Definitely have a accomplice in me

I enjoyed this book and felt like I learned a lot. It was hard not to feel defensive in the beginning, I have always felt like I should try to make up for the color of my skin and things that white people do to those that are not white... But the reader made me feel as if everything I've done still wasn't good enough, then I realized that his feelings weren't really personal (something I have a hard time with) I started the book over a just listen to the words. I feel like I've come away with a better understanding, and tips on being a better friend to I had already viewed as friends. This book was well written and I have already recommended it to my friends and family. If you're a white person and think that you are already a great friend to people who aren't white ready it anyways you might learn something you want to change.

6 people found this helpful

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BUY THIS BOOK!

Frederick Joseph delivers with this thoughtful, poignant, and well-written memoir. He has done a great service to us all by sharing his experiences and teaching readers that being an ally is no longer enough. In order to truly support our black friends, we must be willing to make sacrifices and to become accomplices rather than allies.

Joseph offers a fresh perspective on the topic of racism in America, and reading this reminded me of how much I still have left to learn. Excellent story-telling and honest, straightforward advice for people of all backgrounds. I can’t say enough positive things about this book!

5 people found this helpful

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A must read/ listen for EVERY white person

A very important book. He's the black friend who will tell you as a white person what it is to be black, the racism that is still extremely present, the racism you very often overlook simply because of your white privilege and even the racism you might help sustain simply because you're ignorant. But, more importantly, he tells you what you can do to help tear down racism by beginning with your own behavior. Since he's your friend, he tells all this without personal judgment towards you as a white person. He addresses white supremacy but is not attacking people who live with white privilege specifically, he gives you the tool to use your white privilege to help abolish racism.
Especially anybody who's lit up by the idea of this book should read it, but also people who are more aware of racism; even they will learn more about what it is for a black person living in a white privileged world.

4 people found this helpful

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Great for people of all ages.

excellent stories and terrific analysts. Frederick Joseph blend humor, his own stories, and relatability to make white people smarter about the impact of racism.

3 people found this helpful

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Teaching Book

The narrator was a teacher who gave an understa.dable down to earth reading 9f his book. I learned from his book and would recommend to anyone.

2 people found this helpful

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Yup!

I was nodding along throughout the entire book. From a fellow “Black friend” this book was on point!

2 people found this helpful