“I won’t believe I’m just a black spec, I’m bigger, more than that, though sometimes I feel like I’m swimming in whiteness.”
- Donte Ellis
Two brothers. One lighter skinned. One struggling to navigate the world as the "Black Brother". This middle-grade novel takes a careful look at one young boy's difficulty in fighting against a world of racism while trying to find his own place and voice in it.
Black Brother, Black Brother is a powerful coming-of-age story about two brothers - one who presents as white, the other as Black - and the ways they are forced to navigate a world that doesn't treat them equally.
“Youth love ‘Black Brother, Black Brother.’ They love it as a sports book, as a triumphant tale of the underdog, a call for social equity in schools and as a celebration of everyone's unique ethnic heritage. Biracial children especially love the representation,” - Jewell Parker Rhodes
Black Brother, Black Brother. With a black mother and a white father Donte Ellis's life is more than a little complex.
The students and faculty of Middlefield Prep don't look like 12 year old Donte nor do they like him. It's no secret that they wish he was more like his lighter skinned brother, Trey.
The story starts off with Donte, the Black Brother, getting in trouble for another student's action. Punished weekly for things he doesn't do, bullied by everyone, students, teachers, as well as school administrators; Donte often just wants to be invisible. This other student's antics end with Donte being suspended from school and ending up arrested for simply being the "Black Brother".
I started listening to this book with no background information on what it was about, just a title and an author. What I loved about it is that it is not just about the social injustices Donte faces but pulls in young readers by incorporating the sports aspect through fencing. As a reader you are not just rooting for Donte to be victorious in his personal battles, winning the fight over constant discrimination at school, but also as a competitor. It shows what can happen when you take negative energy and use it to empower the positive.
Will Donte be able to use his new found love fencing to beat his bully without ending up in handcuffs, again?
Donte's battles are ones that many students have to fight across our country. The "school-to-prison pipeline" is an alarming trend in which young people are pushed out of public schools and into the criminal justice system. Instead of the additional help that many of them need they are isolated, punished, and pushed out into a system that most can never escape. Students of color are especially vulnerable to this discriminatory push-out trend.Education vs. Incarceration!!!
#OwnVoices at Richland Library is a way for African American staff to provide thoughtful and well written book reviews, book lists and blog posts to promote African American authors and their work about the African American experience. The series invites our customers to learn one more way we are continuing the conversation in our community and speaking our voice. Find more resources on race, equity and inclusion, here.