Readers’ Advisory 2: Dear White People. Justin Simien

Quick Facts

Author: Justin Simien

Illustrator: Ian O’Phelan

Published 2014 37INK/Atria. 9781476798097

148pp. $19.99US, $23.99CAN

Popular nonfiction, Humor/Satire, Social Issues

Available in print and e-book

Why I Read It

I’d heard of the film of the same name, because it made the rounds of the festival circuit and was supposed to be a humorous satire. When I found out about the book, I wanted to read it. I couldn’t figure out which came first, the movie or the book, so I ended up reading the book in one sitting and watching the movie the next day.

TLL’s Tag

A guide to how not to piss off a person of color.

The Rundown

A short, funny book about the various myths and microaggressions that exist within other people’s perceptions of black people, specifically. Stream of consciousness thoughts and quizzes to ‘help’ readers examine their own prejudices.

Here’s what I think

This was a quick read. I’ll keep saying it is funny, because there are definite moments of levity in what could have been a very serious book. While the topic of racism and what it means to say it no longer exists in America and the world is a heavy one, Simien’s ruminations on the topic are meant to expose prejudice without being accusatory. It is a delicate balance to maintain, but Simien does it. I enjoyed the Cosmo-like quizzes, mostly because of the explanations of answers and being able to compare them to how I see myself.

Final decision

I enjoyed reading it, but the only reason I picked it up was the film of the same name.

4Q–Better than most, marred by occasional lapses.

3P–They made a movie about it so I need to read it

Readalikes, courtesy of NoveList Plus


Stephen Colbert

Justin Halpern

Maureen Dowd


Zeitoun, Dave Eggers

Arguing With Idiots, Glenn Beck

Arguing on Purpose, Craig Ferguson

Appeal Factors

funny, sarcastic, thought-provoking, engaging

Book talk ideas

Glossary of terms, p. 140-146

Black Myth Busters, throughout

The Paper Bag test, p. 107-121

Book discussion questions

1) If you took the Paper Bag Test and remember your results, share what they were and your thoughts on them.

2) How did you feel about the book overall?

3) Black women are magic. Explain what that means to you.

Clues to the Future

Dear White People, don’t touch my hair, microaggressions, popular nonfiction, satire, social issues

Awards and Lists

The film has won numerous awards, including the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay (Simien).

Links to the Author, Interviews, and Reviews

Author’s Twitter handle: @JSim07

NY Daily News review:

The Dissolve interview:

Interview Magazine interview:

Speech at the Film Independent Spirit Awards:

Book Soup review:

A challenge here was finding reviews that spoke about the book rather than the film.


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