The Talk

by Darrin Bell

Hardcover, 2023




Henry Holt and Co. (2023), 352 pages


"This graphic memoir by a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning offers a deeply personal meditation on the "the talk" parents must have with Black children about racism and the brutality that often accompanies it, a ritual attempt to keep kids safe and prepare them for a world that-to paraphrase Toni Morrison-does not love them. Darrin Bell was six years old when his mother told him he couldn't play with a white friend's realistic water gun. "She told me I'm a lot more likely to be shot by police than my friend was if they saw me with it, because police tend to think little Black boys-even light-skinned ones-are older than they really are, and less innocent than they really are." Bell examines how "the talk" has shaped nearly every moment of his life into adulthood and fatherhood. Through evocative original illustrations, The Talk is a meditation on this coming-of-age-as Bell becomes painfully aware of being regarded as dangerous by white teachers, neighbors, and strangers, and thus of his mortality. Drawing attention to the brutal murders of African Americans like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, and showcasing his award-winning cartoons along the way, Bell takes us up to the very moment of reckoning when people took to the streets protesting the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and when he must have "the talk" with a six-year-old son of his own"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member villemezbrown
Centered around "The Talk" his mother had with him as a child and "The Talk" that looms before him with his own son, cartoonist Darrin Bell reflects on a life buffeted by blatant racism and constant microaggressions even as several white people assure him he is "one of the good ones."

Another sad
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and enraging reminder of how far we have to go.

The book skips between vignettes from Bell's life, and I was often frustrated by not knowing what happened in the gaps between as we're given tantalizing sketches of other members of his family and his own career that never get the full development they seem to deserve. So I guess I'm complaining that this thick graphic novel isn't twice as long . . .
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LibraryThing member reader1009
graphic nonfiction, memoir - cartoonist relates moments over his lifetime, from growing up as a biracial kid (Jewish/white mom, Black dad) in 1980s/90s Los Angeles, to his time as a UC Berkeley student, to the political cartoon he drew post-9/11 that unintentionally (but notably) contributed to
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hate against Sikhs, Muslims and Arabs, to the present day (2023) when he needs to explain racism to his young son.

All the praise and positive press is well deserved--I do not give out more than three stars lightly and this book easily warrants all five. Bell is a highly skilled storyteller, cartoonist, and explainer of complicated things. It is a fast read, but each page and each image is also packed with meaning -- please read and share widely.
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LibraryThing member travelgirl-fics
about as good a graphic novel as have been written. deeply personal, concise, seemingly effortless artistry and writing... fwiw, i gave myself six days to read it; i was done in one.
LibraryThing member DarthDeverell
In The Talk, political cartoonist and artist Darrin Bell recounts his childhood experiences of racism and the conflicting messages he received from family, teachers, and loved ones that led him to understand the ways in which racism weave throughout U.S. society. As a mixed race child, he never
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quite felt that he fit in either white or Black communities, but he had to deal with how people from each community viewed him. Worse, the messages he received from popular culture conflicted with what opportunities were available to him and he eventually learned that those messages were largely tailored for white audiences and the fact that people of color enjoyed them was incidental to their creators. Bell slowly began to develop his voice and learn how he could use it in middle and high school, finding the power of political cartoons to convey complex ideas with his high school newspaper. His cartoons became a career, giving him a sense of control in a world that limited his power due to his identity. The Movement for Black Lives refocused his work, leading to this book in which he tries to explain racism to his son in a better way than it was explained to him so that his son doesn’t have to learn these lessons the hard way. A great, all too relevant book, Bell flexes his artistic talents throughout and continues to show the power of image to convey complex issues while connecting with all audiences.
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LibraryThing member oldandnewbooksmell
The Talk is the graphic novel memoir of Darrin Bell as he recounts his childhood and growing up as a Black man as he decides how to best give his own son The Talk.

This novel goes from Bell’s coming of age story where he finds his voice through cartooning and becomes well aware of just how
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dangerous his teachers, neighbors, and police see him. He also talks about how much his mom advocated for him as well as trying as hard as she could to protect him; his dad on the other hand had failed to teach him how to be a Black man in America.

There’s a lot to process in this book - a lot that Black Americans have to go through just to live their day to day lives. It’s honest. It’s raw. It’s very moving.
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