Q&A with Frederick Joseph, author of The Black Friend

Activist and author Frederick Joseph speaks directly as a friend to the teen or young adult reader in his new book The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person. This book, published by BBF sponsor Candlewick Press, is for white readers who are committed to furthering anti-racism action and thinking by providing them with reflections on his personal experiences with racism, and also features conversations and anecdotes from prominent artists and activists. We sat down with Frederick Joseph to learn more about this much-needed new book, which will be published on December 1 and is available for pre-order now.

How did you come to write this book?

I felt there was a gap in the anti-racism space. We have phenomenal books that give context and history about global racism, but not much exists that is meant to resonate with young people. I wanted to write something that wasn’t as simple as “racism bad,” but rather explain how racism manifests through real world experiences. The goal is to build not only understanding, but empathy as well. 

Why did you choose to write it for a YA/teen audience, and what do you hope readers will take away from it?

I chose to write for the YA/teen audience because I honestly feel young people are better at being open to new ideas and actually letting them influence who they are. 

Which aspects of your conversations with artists and activists most surprised you?

I think I was most surprised by how universal our problematic experiences and traumas were.

Can you talk about the connections between your online campaigns, such as the Black Panther Challenge and Rent Relief, and this book?

The connection is simply trying to help people and do the right thing.

The Black Friend will be published on December 1 and is available for pre-order now.

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