Sure, I'll Be Your Black Friend: Notes from the Other Side of the Fist Bump (Paperback)

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Sure, I'll Be Your Black Friend: Notes from the Other Side of the Fist Bump (Paperback)


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Ben Philippe is one of my favorite authors writing YA fiction today and I was ecstatic to hear he would be delving into new waters with this memoir-in-essays. His humor bubbles off the page while never looking away from the raw, hard edges that surround his experiences of being a Black immigrant man in America--experiences that are both uniquely his own and an echoing refrain across the country and throughout its history. For fans of his previous books, each page is a trail of breadcrumbs illuminating the personal touchstones he explores in his novels.

— Stephanie

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

Product Details ISBN: 9780063026445
ISBN-10: 0063026449
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Pages: 320
Language: English

"I still mute Ben's texts, but I inhaled his hilarious book, which is so full of razor-sharp wit and punches to the gut that it almost made me sick. In a good way!" — Samantha Irby, New York Times bestselling author of Wow, No Thank You

"Philippe has created a funny, and at times harrowing, memoir of his experience as a Black man. Fans of similar memoirs, such as Damon Young’s What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, will enjoy the irreverence and recognize themselves in these pages." — Library Journal

“Flat-out funny…This is a great next-book for fans of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, but if a reader hasn’t turned to either of those yet, Philippe’s disarming, illuminating, and hilarious chronicle is a great place to start.” — Booklist