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.
A guide to how not to piss off a person of color.
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.
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
Zeitoun, Dave Eggers
Arguing With Idiots, Glenn Beck
Arguing on Purpose, Craig Ferguson
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
Interview Magazine interview: http://www.interviewmagazine.com/film/justin-simien-dear-white-people#_
Speech at the Film Independent Spirit Awards: http://www.themarysue.com/justin-simien-diversity-speech/
Book Soup review: http://www.booksoup.com/justin-simien-2014
A challenge here was finding reviews that spoke about the book rather than the film.