Your Black Friend

Broken Pencil - - Zine Reviews -

I’ll just say this straight-up: Your Black Friend is re­quired read­ing. Ben Pass­more is do­ing pow­er­ful work here. From be­gin­ning to end, this is a ra­zor-sharp per­son­al­ized analysis of friend­ship and racism, pre­sented in top-notch full colour on matte pa­per in Ben’s dis­tinc­tive comic style. Ben’s comic should stand tall among the grow­ing body of cru­cial ex­hor­ta­tions on race in the United States to­day. It speaks di­rectly to you through the voice of “your black friend.” The cen­tral thrust is that there are things your black friend would like to tell you, but he doesn’t know how — things that are go­ing to make you un­com­fort­able, things that will force you to ask your­self some tough ques­tions. Start­ing out with over­heard racism in a café, the comic un­packs the alien­ation, the ag­gres­sion and the sheer un­ex­am­ined big­otry lurk­ing un­der Amer­i­can con­ver­sa­tion, be­hav­ior and ways of be­ing to­ward black peo­ple

Ben cov­ers a re­mark­able amount of ground in just 11 pages. Nearly ev­ery panel forces a pause and re­flec­tion. Each re­veals an­other as­pect of alien­ation your black friend feels: the need to con­stantly mon­i­tor his own speech and be­hav­ior, feel­ing like your white friends are try­ing to “out black” him, hav­ing to be your own per­sonal ref­er­ence source on black peo­ple, and be­ing ex­pected to teach you how to dance. Ben shows how even in the sanc­tu­ary of friend­ship, the in­fec­tion of racism runs deep. There’s so much your black friend wishes he could make you un­der­stand, but so much ob­sti­nacy in the path of un­der­stand­ing. Your Black Friend in­spires es­sen­tial self-ex­am­i­na­tion and is a killer comic to boot. (Joshua Bar­ton)

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