Let’s get into today’s book…
Title: Your Black Friend
Author: Ben Passmore
Publisher: Silver Sprocket (2017)
The way I initially heard about this book was a fluke: I was invited by a couple of friends to attend the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE), and after I saw that there was going to be a panel on social justice in comics (a topic that I love to push on our panels), I had to go, AND at that panel, I saw some amazing artists discussing some dope ideas, SO I went and bought books from all of them, AND I will be posting a review on a book by all of them, AAAANNNNNDD today will be my first: Ben Passmore’s (2017 Eisner Award Nominee) Your Black Friend. Did I mention it was my first CAKE? I will never miss another one. LOOK IT UP!
When I saw Ben speak, he called this short book (only 11 numbered pages) a handbook for white people that have black friends…or something to that nature. I don’t think that’s too off base, and if it is, please correct me, Ben. With that description, I was anxious to read it.
Chicago traffic was rough that day, so on my way home I read the entire thing in stand-still traffic. I loved it! And the rest of the way home, I thought about how this book is going to fit into my graphic novel class because this one will make an appearance; this one will make some people uncomfortable; this one is going to spark some interesting discussion. It’s hard to explain what this book is (although Mr. Passmore’s description is pretty spot on), so I’ll show you a sample page here:
I feel that this book brings with it a very honest, hard-hitting reality that a lot of people might initially have a personal issue with, but Passmore’s honest, hard-hitting reality is on the pages of this book whether you have personal issues with it or not. There are something to personal tales and honest approaches to telling them that tend to help us let our guard down. There’s a reason political candidates regale us with personal stories: it’s hard to not see the humanity in them.
Bianca Xunise was also on the panel, and she said something that has not only stuck with me but something that I think about on an almost daily basis. She said, and I’m paraphrasing a tiny bit: When I was born, people hated me for the color of my skin. When I die people will hate me for the color of my skin. And in the middle, I have to try and convince people that I’m human.
Damn. I get chills thinking about those words…
That is the type of honesty that manifests change, and that is the type of honesty in Passmore’s book.
This is a small book. It’s cheap. It’s important. Get it. Share it. Learn from it. I can’t wait to see what my graphic novel class thinks about this one. I’m ordering a class set, Ben! Maybe we get you to chat with my kids over them internets. I’m sure they will have questions.
The 17+ rating is for the language and adult content, but a class of seniors can handle it…if you have the right class of seniors.
Let me know what you think.
Bianca, I’ll be chatting about Say Her Name in my next post.
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