Book: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man (Flatiron Books, 2020)
Many people in our country felt that the killing of George Floyd was a turning point that spurred them to new action on issues of racial justice in America. Emmanuel Acho is one of those people, and I thank God for this peacemaking book.
Acho has a knack for breaking down complex and (yes) uncomfortable topics into accessible, real insights that crystallize and illuminate what it’s like to be a black man in this country. Acho is the son of Nigerian immigrants who grew up in America and has been a prep school student, professional football player, a sports analyst and broadcaster, and he holds a master’s degree in sports psychology.
In the wake of the Floyd killing, he began a new chapter of peacemaking work, beginning by producing and distributing a series of videos
addressing hard questions related to race. The videos grew into this book, which cuts through the noise, addressing often unspoken questions about labels and names, implicit bias, white privilege, cultural appropriation and so-called “reverse racism,” among many other topics that often feel off-limits in polite conversation.
Acho is a man of faith, who credits Jesus as his model for how to love in a broken world, and a sense of pragmatic hope undergirds his words. His voice embodies a unique and godly combination of directness and grace that make it a shining example of deft intercultural diplomacy.
As I read, I began to think of Acho as the “tough but fair” teacher/coach/boss who knows you might dread to hear the words he’s using to describe today’s assignment/workout/project, but you respect him enough to do the work anyway. And as you do the work, you become wiser, stronger, and more effective because you chose to follow his lead.
The book jacket cover says it best: this book is “an essential guide to the conversations we should all be having to increase our understanding and join the anti-racist fight.” As someone who is interested in rolling up my sleeves and understanding the deeply embedded and abiding sin of racism in our society, I found this book to be a healing balm and I recommend it most highly.
Illuminating interview of author by psychologist Brené Brown:
Reviewed by Vanessa Griffin, Member of the FPC Anti-Racism & Equity Task Force