Friday, May 31, 2019

Booknote: How Not To Get Shot

D.L. Hughley and Doug Moe, How Not To Get Shot: and Other Advice from White People. New York: William Morrow, 2018.  ISBN: 9780062698544.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: humor, race issues, African American, people of color, satire
Format: hardback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County Public Library

Reading this book was a break from my moratorium on reading anything political/activist/social justice/etc., but I saw it was by D.L. Hughley, so I took a chance on it. Right away I will say you do not want to laugh, because this is a very serious matter, but you laugh anyways because it is funny as he tells it even if it is painful.

The author follows a simple premise: he will distill important information for Black (and other) people (of color). He describes this book as:

". . .a how-to guide for black people, full of advice from white people, translated by me, a black guy" (1). 

The author also makes it clear that he is inclusive. He tells us that this book can help other people of color too:

"And if you're Asian or Latino, let me be the first black man to give you some advice: buy this book now because once we're gone you'll be next" (1). 

True words. I've always wondered about the lack of unity among peoples of color. It is certainly a reason why White people can easily exploit the rest of us. Now, you may be wondering why a book like this is necessary. Well, sadly things like racism continue to persist. As the author explains:

"But here we are in the twenty-first century. We find ourselves at a unique point in history where black people shouldn't have to listen to white people, and yet white people still have lots of advice to give" (9). 

So we are fortunate to have the author distill and translate what White people so desperately want Black and people of color to know in order to have peace and order.

The book is arranged in five parts. Each part has short chapters with advice on important topics such as:

  • The Real Way To Not Get Shot by Police
  • How to Dress Less Threatening
  • What Kind of Music Should You Listen To?
  • What Kind of Black People Do White People Like?
  • How to Make White Food
In addition, the author adds small tidbits such as "wise words," "tips," and "did you know?" In these and more, Hughley presents stories, anecdotes, bits of humor, and real facts and information. What he does is "trying to have a little comedy with tragedy" (94).

As I mentioned, I often did not want to laugh, but I did anyhow. Hughley takes the very serious issues of racism in the United States, and in ridiculing them, adding some sarcasm and hyperbole, gets you to laugh even as you are outraged. The book may be humor and satire, but it is seriously grounded in real facts and solid information.

This is a book that everyone should read. For White people, this would be a real look in the mirror, but sadly I know most White people will ignore this book. There is the sad part: those who need to read this the most will likely not do so. For the rest of us, Hughley entertains and educates at the same time. Decent folks may get outraged, but they can also get some laughs to ease the pain.

Overall, this is a great book, and I highly recommend it. I wish I did not need to say it, but it is a necessary book. On a side note, I'd say this book could be suitable for our campus Dean's Reading Group, but they always stick to serious, academic tomes. A pity. Hughley's book could go alongside books like White Trash (link to my review) and others that deal with topics like racism and privilege.

5 out of 5 stars.

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