All The White Friends I Couldn’t Keep by Andre Henry

All the White Friends I Couldn't Keep: Hope—And Hard Pills to Swallow—About Fighting for Black LivesAll the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep: Hope—And Hard Pills to Swallow—About Fighting for Black Lives by Andre Henry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ok, so based on these Goodreads reviews, this is going to be an unpopular opinion.

**P.S. Please don’t correct my grammar in this review, I know how to write, I’m just speaking from my lived AAVE experiences. And don’t come for me in the comments. This is my opinion. If you don’t like it, go write your own.

This book is lame. Maybe that’s pretty harsh, but lemme ‘xplain…

The Introduction is ‘A Warning From the Author’ to explain that what he’s about to say in this book is not going to be an easy read. My question is, ‘’for who?” White people? or Black people? Cause for any Black person who reads this book, this is our everyday lives. This book was not hard to read, and dare I say, Andre Henry must’ve been living under a rock or have been too enmeshed with white culture to notice until Black folks started to get shot on live video feeds around the country.

He states that he had a political awakening during the last decade during the conception of Black Lives Matter era, but I am not buying it. He may have been enraged and that emotion made him have a call to action, but if that’s the case we’d all have books published. Where was he during the time previous to the rampant viral videos showing our Black lives being murdered on video?

Guess where he was?? Schlepping it up with the white folks. Then when he started to speak out about the grief that panged him, and made him realize he could be at danger anytime and these white folks ain’t going to help him, that’s when he was like… “oh, so now I gotta step away from the white folx, cause they all the same.”

How can a Jamaican man, raised in Stone Mountain Confederate Georgia, ever think that his Black ass mattered to white people? I’m confused.

He spoke of being adopted by white families. He spoke of being encapsulated by the white evangelical parishioners. He spoke of his initial preference (let’s call it that) of his non-Black love interests and friends, and his Theology degree from a PWI. He was looking to be white adjacent all his life! Then when the viral videos started hitting FB, CNN, IG, and everywhere else, seeing how innocent Black lives were being snuffed out with little to no repercussions, now he is having a panic attack from all the white people who never supported him and realized his Black life never mattered to them.

The part of the book where I was like, “oh hell nah” was the part where he talks about dating Black women as happenstance. Like for real??? He never intentionally dated Black women? Even though his family is Black, his mother is Black, his grandmother is Black, his father is Black… he looked for other ethnicities to provide the love he was looking for, first?? Is that what I am understanding here? 10/10 he recommends to date Black women… umm, yea! Black love is the epitome of resistance of how we were treated during slavery. White folks never thought we were human. They separated us at birth, or for revenge, or for business pleasure on a whim. Never considering the emotional damage and generational losses we took as a people.

I was exasperated when he talked about his college experience lugging around a boulder just to call out what’s so obvious in our lived experiences. This book isn’t written for Black people at all, but a direct response to the hate he received from whites who expressed or didn’t express their sentiments when he started speaking up about his fears and dangers as a Black man in America. These problems have forever been happening. Pick up any James Baldwin book, and he would have clearly seen everything he needed to see. This book is clearly for the white friends he specifically lost. This is not a book for Black people.

Furthermore, Jesus is not white. Let’s clear the air there. So his, “let’s break up with white Jesus” chapter ummm… I don’t think any Black person I know living today thinks Jesus is white. Christianity was forced onto enslaved people to keep us subdued and in chains, and that religion has been used to execute violence around the world. Jesus is for everyone, but he ain’t white. Most Black people I know who are religious don’t believe in the evangelical/Anglican christianity anyways.

Black people don’t debate or try to educate white folks about anything, especially about race. We are too busy trying to mind our own business and not get in trouble at work because of micro/macro-aggressions that happen everyday to us. We know about the worst of white folks. We’ve had to overcome the worst of white folks in all manners of our existence. What do you think the Great Migration was all about? Getting away from white folks for better opportunities for our families in more livable/workable/hospitable places where the racism wasn’t AS BAD. Not non-existent, but just not AS BAD.

Read: I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown

My initial thoughts while halfway through this book, I was like, wait a minute, is he biracial? No. Ok, so why is he late to the “white folks don’t really care about Black lives or feelings” memo we all got at birth? After finishing this book last night, I just had to sit back, flabbergasted. Henry really wanted to be liked, loved, appreciated, cared for by white people. Like, seriously. Now that Black lives are being murdered in real time for all of us to see at a moments notice, the fear set in that it could happen to him at any time. Now he takes that understanding and fear to his white friends and they do not validate his feelings. He’s hurt. Shocked. Appalled. He’s ‘clutching his pearls’ in disbelief. Plus he’s from Jamaica where his culture and heritage stems from Maroons! Rebels against enslavement. How and why is he so shocked at the ways of white folk? Has he read, Langston Hughes, The Ways of White Folk?? Any of W.E.B. DuBois? Did any Black friend read this book? Did he have a Black editor?? I mean damn, where has he been in this country where he thought his Black self was safe from the vitriol spewed by the worst of white folks? And coming from STONE MOUNTAIN GEORGIA??? Say it ain’t so. He said he read some James Baldwin, but clearly he didn’t read enough. James Baldwin is famously quoted for saying: “To be Black and conscious in America is to live in a constant state of rage.” So it’s quite obvious that he has not been conscious of what’s been going on in America until viral videos hit the scene, and Black people have been shown to be murdered in cold blood over literally nothing.

As a friend told me in discussion with this book, this book is serving a whole lot of Hotep behavior.

I hate blasting on Black authors like this, but damn… this ain’t it.

2 stars, cause I finished it.

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When the World Runs Dry by Nancy Castaldo

When the World Runs Dry: Earth's Water in Crisis

When the World Runs Dry: Earth’s Water in Crisis by Nancy F. Castaldo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An amazing resourceful book for young people, as this book shares how the world is addressing, tackling, confronting environmental issues with our water supply.

“Water is life.” We all need it to survive, and this planet cannot go without necessary water to sustain life within it, like plants, animals, trees, and sea life, etc. However, with growing populations, corporate greed, climate change and global warming, the seemingly limitless supply of water, is not so limitless, but finite. The way we use water has shifted, and more and more people and organizations are lifting their voices to be heard to inform the masses that water conservation is our key to survive. We cannot be wasteful, we have to be cognizant of the decisions we make with everything in our lives and how it impacts our water supply, and being vigilant when certain laws/ordinances/regulations are passed that are not environmentally friendly to all who depend on water. As human beings, we cannot survive without clean water, and so we should all be joining the fight against those entities who have no regard to how they are affecting the water supply; be it through overconsumption, pollution, and/or contamination.

This book highlights some of the most heinous and egregious issues our generation has seen and/or read about regarding water. Flint, Michigan, one of the most troubling cases in our lifetime, shows how corporate greed, mismanagement, and lying to the public has catastrophic consquences to our lives. Coupled with systemic racism, water shortages, contamination, and poor management of water consumption can result in death, disease, and public distrust.

Our world is facing dangerous times in the future with water; whether we will have enough clean water to drink, despite the Clean Water Act, and other laws/regs and the EPA that help us at keeping clean drinking water a human right, is getting harder and harder to guarantee. Politicians and those elected to the Presidency are all responsible for deciding the future of clean, sustainable water for all. The public depends on fair and equitable distribution of water, and not having the proper infrastructure and funds necessary to make needed repairs comes at a drastic cost to our lives.

I appreciated the way the author spoke of these concerning issues in a way that envoked urgency, interest, and personal responsibility. This book makes you think about how you personally consume water. Are you wasteful, are you conserving, are you doing your share to make sure you aren’t contributing to pollution and contamination? All of these questions arise as you read this book. I feel like this book should be apart of school circuluum, as its going to be our children’s future; those who inherit this earth once we’re gone, as they would be able to come to this problem of ours with fresh perspectives and creative solutions to our water issues.

The book not only dealt with contamination, overuse, gross mismanagement, and other harmful contributions, but also shined a light to talk about human involvement in the climate change crisis. How we as humans are guilty in pushing forward global warming and climate change. Climate change and global warming are REAL issues, and I’m glad that this book talks about how we as humans contribute to the degradation of our planet in our consumption behaviors. Places like Venice, who have too much water, enviromental disasters like hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornadoes, are all direct products of climate change and human activity. Plastic found in fresh water sources, animals, fish, and all of sea life, etc., are all human made problems that we are having to deal with and correct.

The book also promoted how to be more environmentally conscious of how you treat the earth, the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the products you buy, the water you drink or don’t use responsibly.

“Everything is connected.” What you flush down the drain/toilet, the water you use in the shower, the medications that are not disposed of correctly, the animal droppings that are not disposed of properly, the overfarming, the concrete used on streets and sidewalks, all of it is connected.

Our water is our lifeline, and if we don’t care for it properly, it will not be there for us to sustain life as we know it. Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is a great example of how we do not want to continue disrespecting our earth and water supply of lifegiving water. Resisting and fighting corporations like the Native Americans did in raising their voices in DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) and rural communities banding together to stop oil drilling, overusing water from wells, are all helpful and useful actions that can make people who rely on this capitalism to stop in their tracks. We need more people who are earth conscious and determined to make this world a better place than they left it to step up in our environment and all egregious behaviors when they see them. Water is life. We all need it, and we should all care about the quality of water we need for life.

This book is a 4/4.5 and I would love to see this book in schools to help our young children have a way to start organizing, petitioning, and questioning what goes on in their community.

Thank you to the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, and to the author, Nancy Castaldo, for this book in exchange for a fair and honest opinion.

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Boss by Tracy Brown


Boss by Tracy Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book reminded me of The Perfect Find by Tia Williams, as the premise was kind of similar. Magazine/newsroom setting, woman making moves, getting seen, making money, doing her thing. Boom, bam, pow, meets a man who sweeps her off her feet, but he’s the son of the boss, so he should be off limits until… so that’s where the similarities end for the most part. However, I got kind of bored in the beginning with the set up and slight subtle drops of a pending plot twist throughout the first half of the book. However, the sex scenes in this book are good, and not over the top, but it made me question a lot about the plot, as there are huge gapping holes in the beginning. Second half of the book there is a plot twist, then things get interesting.

I’ve read Tracy Brown before, specifically I read White Lines, and that was stellar to me a decade ago. Urban fiction isn’t my go-to genre, so I am not interested in the thug/bad boy trope or the ghetto queen who raises herself out of squalor to make herself into the best there is, or drama on top of drama. Some people like that rags to riches-esque/drama/bad boy type of trope, but that just isn’t my preference.

Anyways, this book, was a good read once you hit the plot twist. There is an unreliable narrator who tries to make you believe something else is happening when it’s not, but I liked being mislead a tad in this story. It brought the story to life a bit more in the end and plugged some of the holes that were gapping in the beginning.

Brown does a great job in making sure her characters seem like real 3D people, which is much appreciated, but sometimes, she pushes it to the edge with their storyline that sometimes you lose heart that things will work out for them. The ending doesn’t seem as satisfying as you would like since you and the character was stressed out throughout the whole book.

There were a few things that just didn’t sit well with me in this story that made it seem less believable, but overall the storyline was decent, fun, and engaging at the end. Brown left the ending open-ended teasing us all with a possible sequel.

Overall this book is 3.5

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I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a powerful testament to the untold stories of the African diaspora in all manners of speaking. This is a historical, but fictional account of a woman who came from Barbados to the present day United States as an enslaved Black woman who was accused of being a witch during the time period of the Salem Witch trials. Her story was buried, forgotten, and untold until Maryse Condé retold her story in this most profound and beautiful way ever.

This story details the life of Tituba, born in Barbados during 16** while the world was participating in chattel slavery of African souls. Tituba was the daughter of Abena, who was hanged for her crime of hitting her slave master with a knife that barely grazed him, while he was attempting to rape her in broad daylight. Due to her obvious transgressions, according to her white slave owner, Abena’s husband died at his own hand before being sold off to another plantation, and Tituba, the left behind child, was driven off the plantation at 7 years old. After being driven off, she was raised by the local medicine woman, Mama Yaya, who taught Tituba everything she needed to know about plants, herbs, and their medicinal qualities.

After meeting and agreeing to marry another enslaved man, John Indian, Tituba and her new man is sold off to another family and makes their way to Massachutes, in the United States. Tituba, is later accused of practicing witchcraft, and has to stand trial in 1692 for her crimes of witchcraft. While she was awaiting further trial dates, and subsequent decisions and punishment, there is a pardon that goes out and subsequently, Tituba is released and resold into slavery to another owner. However, in the midst of the trials, she meets a woman named Hester, who tells Tituba to admit to her witchcraft in such a way that allows her to get off. Tituba, admits to witchcraft, while also accusing two other women to practicing witchcraft, during these trials.

Although much is missing in the real account of Tituba, Maryse Condé breathes life into her story and creates a stunning portrayal of a woman who is determined to evade the depths of slavery and regain freedom on her terms by any means necessary. Maryse Condé is definitely placing Tituba right back in the center of the story where she ought to be instead of on the forgotten fringes of history that many historians have relegated her to because of her blackness. It is very important to read books like this, postcolonial literature, that brings to life the African diaspora that existed during the very obvious times that Black people were apart of the society even though white literature tries to erase our names, histories, and origin stories.

Much of the ‘Black Girl Magic’ that we know today is so evident in Tituba’s story. She undergoes so much, and even has a chance to go back to Barbados, when her last owner grants her freedom and allows her passage to go back to her home country. Condé creates Tituba into a very real person, flaws, bad judgment and all! She is a person who wears her emotions on her sleeve and makes decisions with her heart and emotions.

Some of the topics I felt were really explored in this book were:
– Feminism
– Motherhood (choosing/not choosing/forced)
– Independence
– Sexual freedom
– Love
– White supremacy/evil
– Religion
– Race
– Oppression
– Conjuring/root magic
– Culture
– Survival
– Generational awareness
– Perserverance
– Determined
– Self-aware

“Misfortune, as you know, is our constant companion. We are born with it, we I lie with it, and we squabble with it for the same withered breast. But we’re tough, us niggers! And those who want to wipe us off the face of the earth will get their money’s worth.”

Although this book has some heavy themes, and the topic of slavery is never easy to digest, Maryse Condé writes with a very fresh perspctive that has you engaged from the beginning to end. The way in which she recreated Tituba and her story was so profound and necessary, and spoke to us as a people, complete with our entire humanity on display. I absolutely loved this book, and I would love to read more from Condé. Reading postcolonial work is so important, and I highly recommend this book to everyone. 5 stars.

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