Read Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America by Tanner Colby Online


An irreverent, yet powerful exploration of race relations by the New York Times-bestselling author of The Chris Farley ShowFrank, funny, and incisive, Some of My Best Friends Are Black offers a profoundly honest portrait of race in America. In a book that is part reportage, part history, part social commentary, Tanner Colby explores why the civil rights movement ultimatelyAn irreverent, yet powerful exploration of race relations by the New York Times-bestselling author of The Chris Farley ShowFrank, funny, and incisive, Some of My Best Friends Are Black offers a profoundly honest portrait of race in America. In a book that is part reportage, part history, part social commentary, Tanner Colby explores why the civil rights movement ultimately produced such little true integration in schools, neighborhoods, offices, and churches—the very places where social change needed to unfold. Weaving together the personal, intimate stories of everyday people—black and white—Colby reveals the strange, sordid history of what was supposed to be the end of Jim Crow, but turned out to be more of the same with no name. He shows us how far we have come in our journey to leave mistrust and anger behind—and how far all of us have left to go. ...

Title : Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780143123637
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America Reviews

  • Diane
    2019-02-14 10:31

    This is a book that should be more widely read. It's a look at the history of segregation and integration in America, and it doesn't look good.The title Some of my Best Friends Are Black is meant to be tongue-in-cheek; Tanner Colby says he started thinking about how few black friends he had when Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election. As a member of the white middle-class, he realized his life is a good example of how segregated much of our country still is, specifically in terms of education, housing, religion and jobs.This book is broken into four main sections. The first two parts were my favorite: a look at the segregation/forced integration of schools in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama; and the history of segregated housing in Kansas City, Missouri, which has the dubious honor of issuing some of the first "racial covenants" in the country — meaning that blacks and Jews were forbidden from purchasing houses in certain parts of the city. The third part looks at the advertising industry and how difficult it was for blacks to break into the marketing field. The last part focuses on segregated churches in Louisiana. In each section, Colby travels to different parts of the country and interviews residents to get their perspectives on integration, and researches the history of racial incidents in the region. There were some fascinating stories and details in this book, and it makes for a good overview of how we got to where we are today. While the sections on advertising and religion dragged a little, overall I would recommend this to anyone interested in social issues or history.My rating: 3.5 stars rounded up to 4Personal NoteRecently I had the chance to hear the author speak at a panel discussion, and he made some good points. One of them was that he doesn't consider himself a revolutionary, but is rather a pragmatist. He says revolutions rarely make change happen overnight — change (like the Civil Rights Movement) takes years and even decades, and it often happens at boring city planning meetings. Protests are fine and have their purpose, but Colby said you also need to get up every day and make good choices. You need to do work that you can be proud of and that helps others, and you need to do the right thing every day. If we all do that, our society will improve. Favorite Quotes"When you're white in America, life is a restricted country club by default, engineered in such a way that the problems of race rarely intrude on you personally. During the time of Jim Crow, it took a great deal of terrorism, fear, and deliberate, purposeful discrimination to keep the color line in place. What's curious about America today is that you can be white and enjoy much of the same isolation and exclusivity without having to do anything.""As a slaveholding nation dedicated to the principle that all men are created equal, America built its house on two fundamentally irreconcilable ideas. We've been struggling to reach unitary status ever since.""Trying to corral the suburban stampede with a bunch of school buses was like herding cats. Actually, it was worse than herding cats. It was herding white people, earth's only species with a greater sense of entitlement than a cat.""There's only one way America's neighborhoods will begin to integrate: people have to want it more than vested public and corporate interests are opposed to it. And more people should want it. Mixed-race, mixed-income housing is a product we need on the market. It's the only real solution to segregated schools.""The civil rights issue wasn't really a black and white problem [a Jewish community leader said]. It was a Christian problem.""The Promised Land isn't the place where our problems are solved. It's the place where we find the courage to solve them. And that's all it ever has been."

  • Britt
    2019-02-06 08:25

    *I won this book on Goodreads giveaway* I so wanted to love this book, I thought all of my questions would be answered. Instead, it was more of a compilation of dull facts and figures concerning school, advertising, and church-going(Catholic church-going at that). I would love to have seen more polls or interviews.In the forward of the book, the author wondered why he had no black friends,and I was so excited to discover the answer. I don't think he answered the question.

  • Rebecca
    2019-01-26 07:35

    I really wanted to LOVE this book because I think the title, as well as the premise, are pretty admirable. There were some parts that were really good, but more because I enjoyed the history lessons than the writing or some of the author's actual viewpoints. Like I said, I think the history lessons are good, and I think it's commendable that the author was open to admitting that he didn't know much before undertaking this project. However, that being said, while I did feel like some of his observations are good starting points for dialogue, it also felt like he was making conclusions that some black Americans (and other people of color) might respond to with, "duh!" But, I suppose I should be happy that a white male author is open to examining the topic of race in America.An okay book that had some great details in terms of history lessons, but overall, eh.

  • Jill
    2019-02-14 09:23

    I won an advanced copy of Tanner Colby's Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America from a Goodreads giveaway. I found the book to be an eye opener. It took a different angle on the integration issue. I enjoyed his writing style but found myself having to read the book in small sections. The author often took a long time to make a point and while the little tangents would hold some value to the story, I would lose interest after a while.

  • Sandy
    2019-02-11 09:33

    Didn't really care for this one. Never got my attention.

  • Lillis
    2019-01-26 11:22

    I hate to give this book just a 2. I learned a lot but it took me forever to get through and I guess that might be because each section seemed so disconnected. It's somewhere between "ok" and "I liked it". His approach was extremely casual. I'd like to talk to a person of color who has read it. Is his approach too casual?

  • Hope
    2019-02-14 09:28

    An interesting premise, but, ultimately unengaging.

  • Traci
    2019-02-11 12:08

    I didn't care for this book.

  • Terri Lynn
    2019-02-12 08:29

    I received this in a Goodreads giveaway and was delighted to have gotten it. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1960's/1970's. My parents were white Atheist liberals who owned a bookstore that was always fully integrated with one men's restroom, one women's restroom, and one water fountain. We had no Whites Only or No Coloreds allowed signs as I saw all over town. My all-white school was integrated by none other than Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sons Marty and Dexter and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy's son Ralph was my classmate from the first day of first grade in September 1965 to the last day of 7th grade in June 1972. The act of inviting him to my 7th birthday party caused an uproar as parents of my classmates threatened to not let their kids come if he did and our lily white neighbors on our classy tree lined street of Victorian homes in midtown threatened to set the house on fire if we did. Tanner Colby is younger than me and apparently has a lot less personal experience with this issue than I do. He covers this subject from 4 angles- schools/education, neighborhoods, work (the advertising industry) and churches. He admits he had to limit the scope (as well he should) but he covers certain limited areas an example- schools in the Birmingham, Alabama area, neighborhoods in Kansas City, Missouri, the New York advertising agencies, and churches in Louisiana. I am glad he chose 4 different states for coverage instead of just limiting himself to one place. He covers these areas pretty well but sometimes I think he doesn't have a clue. For example, he took an anonymous poll of students that asked two questions- How many black acquaintances do you have? (by acquaintances they really mean- How many black people in your school do you know by name?) and How many close black friends (the kind you call up to chat with, text to, and have over to your house/go over to their house) do you have. He then goes on to post the results and to comment on them. He says "Today more than 60% of the white kids are at least chummy with five or more (black kids) and half of them have at least one close black friend." This isn't exactly what the chart shows. An acquaintance is someone you have met, you know his or her name and recognize him/her in class. This is NOT the same as being "chummy" which means being friends and associating with each other. There were a lot of people in elementary, junior high, high school, and college who I was acquainted with but was in no way chummy with. Most days I would not even speak to or with them. Saying that 60% of these white kids are "chummy" with their black acquaintances is ridiculous. Then there is the part about half of the white students having at least one close black friend. According to the data presented, 49% have NO close black friends. 24% have 1, 13% have 2, 6% have 3 and 3% have 4. 5% have 5 or more. The biggest group are the ones with NO black friends. The second largest are the ones who have only 1. Few have more than one. This is not exactly a case of the white kids and black kids forming a lovely integrated pack of good close friends. My elementary school was almost all white and yet I had over 5 black close friends, both male and female back in 1965-1972! In junior and senior high, I had a lot more than that and in college even more. There are some issues I was glad to see brought out. One of them is how Jesse Jackson and others like him had tried to be gatekeepers between blacks and whites, insisting that whites could never understand blacks without a "translator". Funny, I have never needed a translator to help me be friends with blacks and understand what they like yet Jesse Jackson and others have promoted the idea of blacks segregating themselves by going to historically black colleges, starting their own black focused businesses (including ad agencies) that serve only blacks, etc. Some "rainbow". I have asked for all of my 53 years- why are we dividing ourselves up by skin pigmentation? There is only one race- the human race. We bleed red. We have the same body parts. What does it matter if I am a white Atheist and someone else is a black Christian? That should be no barrier. I have friends on 6 continents of every conceivable race, religion, and national origin, male/female, gay/lesbian/heterosexual, rich/poor, educated/not formally educated, and more. I love them for themselves and the differences, just respect the differences. We are not clones nor should we be. I like the differences that bring color and variety to life. This book is a good place to start for a close personal look at the past and the present.

  • Jen Mcgovern
    2019-02-12 15:20

    I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I initially picked it up because it seemed like the type of book that would speak to my students' experiences- and academic books about race can be dry. The book was well written an easy to read but I had a few issues with it. The author admits that this wasn't meant to be a research book - I was happy that he put that out there but did feel like the book would have benefitted from a more systematic way of interviewing (and a bit more layered analysis about the interview data). For me, the biggest issue was that he never really answered his own question in a clear way-only hinted at it. And some of hints sounded a lot like he was putting the onus of failed interracial friendships on non-whites. At times this is subtle and other times more explicit--either way I was uncomfortable with that conclusion based on the historical data and interviews that he presented.What did I like about it then? the author did good job giving brief summaries of certain pieces of racial history (the housing and madison avenue history sections were bright spots)

  • J
    2019-02-09 13:24

    Saw this in the library and thought it was an interesting idea for a book. It got decent reviews and even an endorsement from someone associated with the Richard Nixon Library, so I figured I’d give it a try...In the preface the author refers to Obama as the “awesomest guy ever”. He also described his friends as “enlightened, open-minded, well traveled, left-leaning white folks like me” who nonetheless didn’t have any close relationships with African Americans. It became clear that this book was written for such an audience. Enlightened terms such as “whiteytown” were used to describe groups of old, white men. There was also quite a bit of convincing misinformation about Catholic Church history and doctrine.

  • Melissa
    2019-02-16 15:32

    Meh. The first section starts out strong, but the book looses the author 1/3 of the way through. After that, though I find the topic worthwhile, I did not find the book compelling. There are better books about race out there.

  • Sonia
    2019-02-14 11:35


  • Brad
    2019-01-20 09:28


  • Susan
    2019-02-16 07:14

    Disappointing!I found this book very disappointing and, in fact, could not even finish reading it. The author is a mediocre writer at best. I've read some of his other writing recently but I will no longer read his work. One star.

  • Lyndsay
    2019-01-31 08:16

    I enjoyed the first part of the book about segregation and integration in schools but then he lost me. I was bored and started skimming and then gave up on it.

  • Gabriel
    2019-01-31 07:12

    [Won as a First Reads]Looking for a book that will make you think about race in a slightly different way? Looking for a book that shows us how much progress has been made? Looking for a book that describes the true cost of that progress? In many ways, this is that book. Written in an easy style with structured history and memoir-esque reasons, SomBFaB plays out like a Michael Moore movie, only fair, balanced and truly important for everyone no matter what side of the divide you are on. This book is a great gateway to the race discussion and if you are involved in School, Real Estate, Advertising or Religion and tackling cultural diversity, it is a must read.Obviously this does not come close to touching on all aspects of integration (according to this book, integration is between Blacks and Whites only, for starters). Tanner Colby, in his Preface (which is easily worth the price of admission) says that it would be impossible to even attempt a book that came close to discussing all aspects of integration. What SomBFaB does, though, is present a selection of anecdotes that are centered on four different regions and four different aspects of life: School, Home, Work, Church.Below are reviews on each aspect (School is part 1, Home is part 2, etc.), but that is only a glimpse at the depth Colby tackles each topic. I don't know if I can recommend this book enough ... but I know I'm probably buying a couple of copies to give away to Administration at my school so they can understand why we have a dorm-day separation in the cafeteria and how tough it is to build up a diverse student body, especially with a majority white faculty.Part 4: Colby ends the book with the story of Grand Coteau, Louisiana. To say much more would be to steal the power and message of this anecdote. Though it reads as its own separate entity to the book (the other sections all are quick to relate to previous sections and previous sections lead directly into the next sections), there are glimpses of why Religion must be discussed and how it is the most important of the four aspects described. The brief epilogue helps right a wrong I had started noticing while reading the final section - a lack of citations. That may be due to the status of the copy I got (Advanced Uncorrected Proofs), and I hope that is remedied in the actual copies of this book. Part 3 review: In my Advance Uncorrected Proofs copy it says: "Advertising now has to be culturally competent across the board. To get there, integrating the white hierarchy of the big agencies is going to take years. In the meantime, black agencies are still asserting ownership of black consumers, but their seventies-era, race-based business model isn't any better suited to the new media universe than the white guys'." Now, maybe I'm just crazy in my interpretation of this sentence, but it sounds like the only way you can get a culturally competent crew of people is if they are balanced racially. That is, that some sort of Affirmative Action HAS to take place for true cultural competency. Now, I would have lesser issues with this argument (besides a big one, namely that one race can NEVER know another race and that targeting specific racial identities in ads IS OK) had he not spent the last 10 pages describing how the internet has shown the need for racial targeting to be a moot point. That people will go to what they want regardless of the advertising (well, "regardless" is the wrong word, but "despite" doesn't work so well either). In other words, he just spent 10 pages describing how black agencies are unnecessary and then in two sentences describes that the reason they exist (paraphrasing: white people don't understand blacks, so only blacks can sell to blacks) IS A TRUE REASON! This is the first time that Colby has actually pushed a race button and seemed to completely misinterpret what came out of the food hole.The rest of this section - focusing on advertising, since that's what Tanner Colby did before becoming a writer - is as interesting and intriguing as the entire book has been so far.Part 2 review: After the school integration, he talks about neighborhood integration. The best pieces here were the backing information, where he discusses the creation of suburbia. I will say that it is unclear whether we are heading in the right direction in terms of neighborhood integration, or if there has been no progress made at all. Throughout this section, Colby goes on describing what are the various pieces of racism that exists today and that existed back then. What he doesn't discuss is as important as what is discussed, namely: white flight INTO black neighborhoods (as what is being done right now in Portland, Or around the north Portland area). Again, the lack of other races discussed thoroughly is a little bothering, but given his focus of Kansas City, Missouri, maybe that's fitting.Part 1 review: Ok, I don't normally do this, but this book has definitely inspired me to write mini-reviews while reading. At the very least, it has been incredibly interesting and thought provoking. The only other book to have gotten me to think about Race as much as this one, and that was just the Introduction/Preface. There, Tanner Colby presents just a bare skeleton of an idea that any American (and this book really is meant for US race relations, though I'm sure other countries may have similar stories) needs to look at. Then he goes on to discuss school integration. While laying the factual framework for this section (chapters 1 and 2), it does get a little boring. Some of the information is old hat for anyone with a decent Government class (like mine from High School), but other aspects are definitely region-related and about that time is when the book really gets interesting. During the last three chapters in this section, we delve more into anecdotal evidence - and it is powerful to read. As a person of mixed race myself, it was moving to read about the "Oreo" idea and "Acting White." I had brought up to the faculty at the school where I teach how I've been "Treated White" for almost all of my schooling career and they didn't understand. This book explained it better than I ever could.There's also some hope in the last few chapters, giving the sense that racism isn't holding back the schools in this particular region, but socio-economic factors instead. This is something that is very true in Oregon also.This section also leaves me with the hope that the rest of the four parts of this book will be as illuminating and thought-provoking as the first. Tanner Colby may be white, he may have selected very specific areas to cover, but he's done a nice job of including the black voice in this book.Now if only there were other races included in the discussion; racism isn't just a Black/White issue, after all.

  • Michelle
    2019-02-07 13:17

    The author discusses integration and how limited it is. He views it from the fact that he has no black friends. Acquaintances but not friends. He frames this exploration of modern America history through his own life and the places he's lived and their connection to integration. It's a great framing device, but he's inconsistent with it. It bounces around time-wise and the first and last chapter on school and church are the strongest.School is the strongest chapter because you hear the most about his life and people who attended and are attending the school there at it's history as a white flight suburb. It's personal, funny, illuminating, and relevant. The survey filled out by current students is great, and the reunion with the black girl from his high school really resounded for me.Next is the section about blockbusting, white flight, suburbia, and redlining. he distill the subject with clear and direct descriptions. It's not in depth, but still breezy. there's not much of him in this section and I wish there was more on the gentrification of the neighbor hood by gays and what life is like for those in East St. Louis.The weakest section is work on Madison Avenue. It's wonderfully illuminating on affirmative action and business quotas, but it goes on too long and focuses too much on advertising. Another weak point is that there is little of him after the first chapter. It's all about advertising and suffers because it doesn't talk about other professions fields or employment, which could have made the section stronger. It feels repetitive with the constant talk of business relationships. It's true, but we got it the fifth time you said it.The church section has the least amount about the author, but is the strongest because the focus on the longitudinal integration of a Catholic church with two parishes - one white and one black - in Louisiana. Again, the narrow focus on Catholicism both hinders the overall thesis Colby repeats but strengthens the section's narrative with its tight focus.His final thesis boils down to the reason that integration hasn't work is because black people don't want to give up the few thing that are "theirs" even if its limiting and is financially less lucrative or important than integration with whites. Occasionally he'll bring up good points as to why they maybe be reluctant to integrate (the church section has the best and most insights) but he does try to delve into that discussion. the most insightful comment is about how when it comes to integration the biggest fight is among the pro- and anti- black groups, but white people are in a Catch-22 section because either way their motives and involvement is questioned, so they throw money at the problem and back away. He doesn't have much in the way of solutions or advice except the strong belief that integration is good. the final section does a great job of showing how full integration is achieved, but makes it all worth reading. So, at least read the first and last sections.

  • Andrew
    2019-02-16 15:26

    This book was hit AND miss for me. Being a big fan of the urban planning field, I loved the first part of the book - it was a fascinating overview of historical patterns with modern day examples of what those patterns have wrought. So far, so great. And then . . . came the whole middle section about advertising which, to me, seemed to go on and on and on and on. I turned the page at the end of one section and was hoping that Colby had gotten everything he wanted to say about advertising out on the page and was so disappointed when he launched back into it with the next section. Ugh.Here's the rub: I feel like that since the author is an advertising guy and he derives such a joy out of thinking and talking about everything even remotely related to the advertising field, he commits the all-too-human error and forgets that not everyone finds the stuff he finds interesting as interesting as he finds it. I got his points about race and advertising and I actually thought they were interesting points - the first four times he made them; I just feel like he needed to have some non-advertising people vet that portion of the book a little more honestly. I'm talking this was a 150 pages when maybe 86 would have sufficed. When you have the same point being made paragraph after paragraph, any sensible reader will begin to detach from the material. For his next book, I hope Colby goes back to the basics: highlight a conundrum and the opposing positions about that conundrum, make your point about the conundrum, provide a few of your own examples that reinforce your point, draw your conclusion(s) and then move on to your next topic.All that said, I think Colby rebounded well with the final section of the book - the one on religion. This section was compelling, engaging and informative.In the end, good book. It would have been great had the advertising section been shorter and more to the point. But good book nonetheless.

  • Matt
    2019-01-29 10:23

    I really enjoyed this book, even though it was not, as I hoped, a story about how Colby managed to integrate his social circle. Instead, it's a social history of integration in four domains-- school, neighborhoods, work, and church-- and four locations: Vestavia Hills, AL; KC, MO; Madison Avenue, NYC; and Grand Coteau, LA. Along the way, Colby tells a lot of really interesting stories, some familiar and some less so. Some of the stuff on integrating advertising at the very least came from the same source material Matthew Weiner was looking at. And I've lived in, or very near, three of these places, so I was pretty interested. Colby is funny, and sometimes a little more salty than you'd expect, able to break from the pious do-gooder historian voice at moments that surprised and disrupted my reading.The one area that the book kind of lacked was a clear argument-- which maybe would be out of place in a work of popular history? But in at least three of the sections mentioned, things sort of just get better, which feels a bit like a cop-out. The working out of solutions in the book's final section, about Church, feels more deliberate and real, but was still only partially explicit enough for me.It's a really good revealing book in spite of my concerns, though.

  • Rebecca Davis
    2019-01-22 11:09

    We live our childhoods once and spend the rest of our lives unpacking what happened to us then. For me, this will always be about race, gender, and developing the courage to challenge traditional viewpoints, because I grew up in Vestavia, Alabama, one town Tanner highlights in this terrific and personal exploration. He's funny and wise, and brutally honest, letting the story lead him places outside our current political narrative. On his podcast he recently said that a school district is making this required reading for its 9th graders; I can only imagine how much this would have improved my own understanding had I been lucky enough to read it then. And, it might be interesting to note, my mother's book club of women aged 65 and up also just read and enjoyed this immensely. I think if you had done a lot of work to understand sources of inequity in real estate in post-war America, some of this might have been a repeat; for me, it was largely new, not only because I learned new things, but because our national conversation is shifting. I'm seeing things differently, again, and this book helped tremendously. We'll never stop needing to be reminded of how we arrived where we are.

  • John Hammontree
    2019-02-20 14:16

    This book ought to be required reading in today's political climate. It's an excellent, accessible primer on the forces that created and continue to perpetuate American segregation -- especially in our schools, our neighborhoods, the workplace and the church. The book will challenge everyone's preconceptions, white or black, republican or democrat. While I didn't always agree with Colby's conclusions, the book does a great job of establishing a narrative. It also offers a few positive examples and models for progress. Growing up in the same basic neighborhood as Colby and entering the same basic career path, so many of these revelations hit close to home. However, I'm certain that any reader will find the book revelatory.

  • Miranda
    2019-02-17 15:13

    Colby's book is well-researched and illuminating, and is absolutely readable due to the author's voice and humor. The book looks at race relations and integration policies from the point of view of the people involved, presenting personal stories and quotes nestled in with historical and cultural context. After reading this book, I understand so much more about integration, mandated busing, redlining, blockbusting, and the state of race relations today. Time well spent.

  • Rog
    2019-02-17 09:24

    A miss.

  • Vicki
    2019-02-15 09:23

    The framing of this book was that basically white people don't know black people, because they haven't gone to school with, lived near, worked with, or prayed with them. And that's the exact opposite of my lived experience, so the grand conclusions he drew had a tendency to bother me. BUT I realize that my lived experience is outside of the norm for White America, so I tried to not take it personally and read through a more anthropological lens -- sort of observe the White American in his natural habitat. There is a lot of good here -- the great details and examples of blockbusting and redlining and explaining what that meant for home ownership and wealth accumulation rates in Black America was probably the most informative section. There's also plenty of average -- the employment section felt kind of like a square peg in a round hole. Of course Colby should write what he knows, but the advertising world felt very specific and also kind of uninteresting. Ths school section was more on point, with the history of white flight and bussing interwoven into the storyline, and the added drama of Colonel Reb as the mascot.The church section was also a little off-target vis a vis the broader purpose of the book: yes, Colby grew up Catholic, and that one churh's experience was actually very vivid, interesting and well-told. But since Louisiana was the only place on earth that the Catholic church had "national" churches for Black Catholics, it's odd to use that as an examination of American Catholicism and segregation (as a for instance, my childhood church had masses in English, Vietnamese & Spanish, and a substantial African American and African immigrant membership as well). Also, since he acknowledges that only 5% of African Americans are Catholic, at least partly because of geographical issues (not many Catholic churches in the Deep South at the end of slavery, because anti-Catholic sentiment normally went hand-in-hand with racism), wouldn't it have been more informative to look at the churches that Black Americans actually attend? It just felt a bit forced to make a grand point about white people and black people not attending the same churches when 1) in the case of Catholic churches, that was incredibly specific to Louisiana, and 2) white people and black people are not attending the same Baptist churches, and there are actually a lot of Black Baptists. Oddly, even though I have those reservations about the church section, I felt it was the best-written and most engaging section of the book.

  • Kristin
    2019-02-13 13:15

    “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” wrote James Baldwin. White author Tanner Colby decides to face the history of racial integration in the United States when he realizes that he and his fellow Obama supporters don’t have any black friends. In a country where white people sometimes gloss over how our past racism has influenced the present, Colby looks at segregation in the “everyday places where people should meet and interact, but don’t:” schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, and church. He investigates school desegregation in the suburb of Birmingham, Alabama where he grew up, racist city planning and federal housing policy in Kansas City, Missouri, the influence of the old boys’ network in New York advertising companies, and Catholic churches in Louisiana split by race. I liked Colby’s humor and ability to engage readers by telling the stories of individuals, such as the bus driver who drove black kids to white schools, black students who thrived in majority white high schools, or neighbors who joined together to fight blockbusting. I learned a lot about the history of segregated schools and neighborhoods that helped me better understand our current reality. For example, black students first rejected academic achievement as “acting white” after being bused to white schools who rejected them. Widespread restrictive convents that prevented people of color from moving to many neighborhoods led to segregated cities now. While I thought the sections on work and church sometimes dragged and I also want to read an African American writer’s perspective on these issues, overall I really enjoyed reading this book. I recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand why current American society is often segregated and how we can work together to build the beloved community.

  • J 1Jacobsen
    2019-02-05 07:23

    Some of My Best Friends are Black, by Tanner Colby, is a non-fiction book about the development of integration in America. Colby addresses Jim Crow Laws and how those influenced our society today. It’s a different perspective on how our country developed and opens your eyes to how relevant segregation is still today. The book shows how race issues have been handled in schools, neighborhoods, religion, and in jobs. Colby realized that growing up he really only knew a few African American people, and went back to places in his life and more to see why that was.I am not one to usually get into non-fiction books, but I found this one very interesting because of its raw approach. Colby went back to the area that he grew up in and spoke to people living there to find out why integration was never truly a thing. He found that for the most part, it was just something forced in order to have the right face for America. For example, the schools had to reach a quota on how many black students they had, so they drew an odd school district line in order to make sure all the schools had enough to reach that quota and stay active. He also addressed how there weren’t many black teachers, only enough to reach the quota, and that made me think of how in our school there aren’t any black teachers that I’m aware of and it makes me wonder why. The book presented a lot of issues that I think people don’t talk about anymore because we are supposed to be integrated for many years, but really I feel as if we aren’t. That isn’t to say its because of racism, but like Colby said in the book, black people don’t always necessarily want to intermix with white communities. It is an interesting topic that can be debated either way, but Colby does a good job of presenting the issue and causes in many different settings.

  • Crystal
    2019-02-09 08:25

    This is about your average white guys experience with integration. He depicts three segments of integration based on places that he has lived. It was very, very interesting. Us white folks born in the last half of the 20th century have been taught that we are integrated, and we believe that. In my graduating class of over 800 there was one black person. (There was a growing number of hispanic students as they migrated in to work in the Tyson factories.) And he was our comedian; our mischief maker; he organized the students into a student led cheer section at basketball home games. I never thought about whether that was who Wesley was, or if he behaved that way to find a niche in our mostly white community. My grandmother says that when she moved to our city in the 70's there was a sign that said, 'don't let the sun set on your black a--' on the outskirts of town curtesy of the KKK. But it was gone before I went to high school, and there were many families of educated blacks being brought in by the many corporations in our region. And since Katrina, because of relocation, there is even more diversity in our black population. I think that the black/white problem has been replaced with the illeagal immigrant issue in my hometown. One fear for another. There will always be something (or someone) that keeeps us from being the unified human family that we truly are.

  • Toni
    2019-01-28 08:38

    This is not some serious textbook chronicling the history of racial integration in America. Neither is it a personal memoir about the author's lack of black friends. It's kind of a combination of both. Colby realized that during the 2008 election, people of many races came together to choose our country's first black president. An when we were done cheering our victory, we went back to our mostly still segregated neighborhoods, school districts, and churches.Colby uses some of his personal experiences to outline the policies (written & unwritten, legal & illegal) that have worked to keep us apart. I found the chapters about real estate to be especially fascinating. The lengths to which people went to ensure that their neighborhoods stayed "white", while not surprising, was still a little mind-blowing. On the flip-side you had people who used the "white flight" to the suburbs as a way to take advantage of the black residents who moved in, by raising mortgages and rents and ignoring their other needs.This book was written with insight and humor (his first two books were biographies of John Belushi and John Candy) making this sensitive topic more accessible and easy to read about.

  • Matthew
    2019-02-04 08:29

    Tanner Colby navigates these troubled waters with a sense of humility and grace that I initially didn't think he could pull off. The book boils down to a set of four case studies, about integration in schools (Vestavia Hills and Birmingham), housing (Kansas City), the workplace (advertising), and the church (Grand Coteau, LA). While this does limit the scope of the book somewhat, it allows Colby to dive deeper and get at the prejudices and tensions that very often keep white and black people on different sides, long after the legality of segregation has been overturned. One gets the sense that the same forces that drive these people drive people nationally, and this is backed up statistically in the book as well. Colby is no radical, and some might fault him for the folksy way he goes about this project. He rarely casts blame for the messes we find ourselves in, with the exception of a few white people who really deserve it. But so long as you go in expecting an anecdotal sociological and historical narrative, and not a textbook or polemic, I think you'll enjoy the book.