“Reading is essential for those who wish to rise above the ordinary.” -Jim Rohn
One of the things I love most about reading is the opportunity to learn and grow. Whether reading a fictional story or a memoir/firsthand experience, I am transported into someone else’s shoes and gaining perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
Today is Juneteenth, now an official US holiday! And it certainly gives us a good reason to celebrate and learn. Here’s a brief (oh so brief) summary of why: Freedom was a hard fought battle for the black enslaved. Even the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t have power throughout stronghold confederate areas. But hope and perseverance prevailed when on June 19, 1865, Union Armies freed the last 250,000 enslaved black Texans.
So in honor of Juneteenth, I wanted to spotlight two recent reads that have helped me gain perspective and learn more.
You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey
Grand Central Publishing
Hilarious and horrifying. I quickly devoured this book (and wanted more!). These are stories that need to be told. They are ridiculous and maddening. But the way Amber and Lacey tell them, you are able to laugh out loud and also reflect.
I have to admit that I laughed… I laughed SO HARD. Many times. And then I was mad. And I wanted to yell at my book, “Come ON white people! We can do BETTER!” As funny as these stories are, they show the work we have yet to do. These stories should be unbelievable. They should be the makings of a good soap opera or movie. These stories should not be real.
I already know that this is going to be one of my favorite books of this year. Lacey’s stories and Ruffin’s writing style have gifted us with the perfect way to reflect on racism while enjoying doing so. Laughter is the best medicine after all.
*Note: Ruffin is a comedian. She uses the f-word. In my opinion, these stories are necessary and worthwhile enough to overlook that one word.
Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man
“For all of you who lack an honest black friend in your life, consider me that friend. My arms are open wide, friends. My heart, too.”
Timely, easily accessible, vitally important. Acho creates an engaging conversation in a warm and welcoming space. Like me, you may have watched his viral video series with the same title. This book is an extension of that series, continuing this necessary dialogue with topics like: cultural appropriation, use of the “N” word, defund the police, the “angry black man,” and white privilege. Acho’s inviting presentation, use of sports metaphors, personal stories, and pertinent quotes take these tough topics and make them palatable.
Maybe one of the reasons Acho can make these ideas more affable is because Acho himself has had to reassess and relearn also. As a first generation American black man raised in predominantly white, upper class Houston, Acho himself grew up with distorted ideas about blackness. If he could believe inaccurate depictions and ideology, how much easier is it for non-black individuals to believe?
If you’re looking to learn and want to do it alongside a friend, I’d definitely suggest Acho as your guide through this book.
*Also, the young reader version of this book has recently been released titled Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy.
Happy reading and learning friends! And happy Juneteenth Freedom Day!