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Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in Americaby Tanner Colby
Synopses & Reviews
An incisive and candid look at how America got lost on the way to Dr. King’s Promised Land
Almost fifty years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech, equality is the law of the land, but actual integration is still hard to find. Mammoth battles over forced busing, unfair housing practices, and affirmative action have hardly helped. The bleak fact is that black people and white people in the United States don’t spend much time together—at work, school, church, or anywhere. Tanner Colby, himself a child of a white-flight Southern suburb, set out to discover why.
Some of My Best Friends Are Black chronicles America’s troubling relationship with race through four interrelated stories: the transformation of a once-racist Birmingham school system; a Kansas City neighborhood’s fight against housing discrimination; the curious racial divide of the Madison Avenue ad world; and a Louisiana Catholic parish’s forty-year effort to build an integrated church. Writing with a reporter’s nose and a stylist’s flair, Colby uncovers the deep emotional fault lines set trembling by race and takes an unflinching look at an America still struggling to reach the mountaintop.
"In his latest, Colby (The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts) takes a fresh, honest look at race relations, tackling the issue in four realms: school, neighborhood, workplace, and church. He probes school integration's turbulent history in Birmingham, Ala. — test case for Brown v. Board of Education, and also the place Colby went to high school. He visits his old school district to track its bumpy progress from racial homogeneity to integration and to find out whether the black kids and the white kids still sit at different tables in the lunchroom. In Kansas City, Mo., he uncovers how real estate practices like blockbusting, redlining, and racial covenants created ghettos and urban blight, and how one neighborhood group is fighting back. Then, a former adman himself, Colby returns to Madison Avenue to examine an industry still divided into mainstream white agencies and niche-market black agencies. Finally, he winds up in a Louisiana Catholic parish scarred by racial violence and learns how the church was able to overcome a self-segregation perpetuated by decades of silence and mistrust. Pointing out the shortfalls of court-ordered busing, affirmative action, and other well-intentioned programs, Colby's charming and surprisingly funny book shows us both how far we've come in bridging the racial divide and how far we've yet to go. Agent: Peter McGuigan, Foundry Literary + Media. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
An irreverent, yet powerful exploration of race relations by the New York Times-bestselling author of The Chris Farley Show
Frank, 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.
About the Author
Tanner Colby is former head writer of the National Lampoon Radio Hour, and coauthor of Belushi: A Biography. He lives in New York City.
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