It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good white person of liberal leanings must be in want of a Black friend.
In the biting, hilarious vein of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life comes Ben Philippe’s candid memoir-in-essays, chronicling a lifetime of being the Black friend (see also: foreign kid, boyfriend, coworker, student, teacher, roommate, enemy) in predominantly white spaces.
In an era in which “I have many black friends” is often a medal of Wokeness, Ben hilariously chronicles the experience of being on the receiving end of those fist bumps. He takes us through his immigrant childhood, from wanting nothing more than friends to sit with at lunch, to his awkward teenage years, to college in the age of Obama, and adulthood in the Trump administration—two sides of the same American coin.
Ben takes his role as your new black friend seriously, providing original and borrowed wisdom on stereotypes, slurs, the whole “swimming thing,” how much Beyoncé is too much Beyoncé, Black Girl Magic, the rise of the Karens, affirmative action, the Black Lives Matter movement, and other conversations you might want to have with your new BBFF.
Oscillating between the impulse to be "one of the good ones" and the occasional need to excuse himself to the restrooms, stuff his mouth with toilet paper, and scream, Ben navigates his own Blackness as an "Oreo" with too many opinions for his father’s liking, an encyclopedic knowledge of CW teen dramas, and a mouth he can't always control.
From cheating his way out of swim tests to discovering stray family members in unlikely places, he finds the punchline in the serious while acknowledging the blunt truths of existing as a Black man in today’s world.
Extremely timely, Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend is a conversational take on topics both light and heavy, universal and deeply personal, which reveals incisive truths about the need for connection in all of us.
Ben Philippe is a New York–based writer and screenwriter, born in Haiti and raised in Montreal, Canada. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University and an MFA in fiction and screenwriting from the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. He also teaches film studies and screenwriting at Barnard College. He is the author of the William C. Morris Award–winning novel The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. Find him online at www.benphilippe.com.