I can proudly say now that I am a “bookworm”, as this has not always been a tag I would have said aloud before. As I not only read books that my parents and my family have told me to read, but teachers as well. One of the books I have read growing up which not only my teachers made required reading but also members of my family, did, was Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” I am not going to lie, this first time I read it, I did not quite know what to make of it, nor did I understand their insistence.
It was not until years later, back home in NYC, when I was 14, and got stopped by the police for the first time, and subsequent times since, that a stop like this for a person of color, can be a matter of life and death. Then it sunk in, as his book, and books like Claude Brown’s Manchild in The Promised Land made me comprehend what society thought of me and yet I can still write my own narrative. Which lead to like Dr. Francis Cress Welsing’s The Isis Papers and Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of The Earth, which gave me a greater understanding. Which is only fitting that Ben Passmore’s Your Black Friend begins with a quote from Fanon, which quite simply hits the gut.
Within the first few pages, Passmore gives light to how subtle racism exists, as most people do not even realize what they say or how they say it are microaggressions. He also gets into how careful a person of color must be in their monitoring of their speech, affectations, and mannerisms, relative to the environment they inhabit, so that they don’t get profiled. He gets into the “fetishizing” aspect of having a black friend, where, to relate, their white friends bring up black authors just so that they can relate or have something to talk about. Lastly, Passmore, gets into the “acting white” aspect as well, as gets into the revalidating of your “black card,” when you have friends of other races.
Overall, an important book in today’s day and time, which is a touchstone in many facets, to understanding one another. Passmore’s prose packs punches in every panel. Passmore’s art may seem rudimentary to the passing eye but has shadows of Basquiat ad Pollock, once one digs into. Altogether, the length of the book, is deceiving at best, as it packs more in these 16 pages, than books ten times its length.
Story: Ben Passmore Art: Ben Passmore
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy NOW!!