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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Dear White Friend: The Realities of Race, the Power of Relationships and Our Path to Equity by Melvin J. Gravely II is a powerful guide to looking at race, relationships, and equity in an informed, compassionate, and fair manner. It hinges on the premise that racism should be acknowledged and then dealt with, individually, in communities, and in the world itself. When the author writes that he doesn't believe the reader is a racist, it immediately sets a tone of openness, communication, and problem-solving. He uses his expertise as an entrepreneur and community leader to appeal to readers personally in chapters that are written as letters. Race in America has been a hotbed of division and inaction: people talk, but nothing gets accomplished. Solutions are what Gravely offers, and that's what we need.
I like it when the author says that we can start within ourselves and our own circle of people and contacts to examine our thoughts, motives, views, and actions. He doesn't try to demean the reader, but some points may make you feel uncomfortable, and this is probably a good thing: it prompts you to think about what he is saying. His style is easy and relatable; intellectual without being stuffy, even when discussing social contracts, economics, Black entrepreneurship, stereotypes, etc. He speaks from experience and gives you examples from his own life. His anecdote about being stopped by the police when he was with his girlfriend is potent. You can feel the urgency in his voice. It's the urgency most of us feel. But he goes one step further and suggests clear solutions, like asking us to honestly question what we have done to contribute to the problem of racism. But he also asks compassionate questions, like what can we do to trust one another. Dear White Friend by Melvin J. Gravely II should be in classrooms, book clubs, and libraries all across America.