Crazy Stories About Racism
Written By: Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar
Published By: Grand Central Publishing
Reviewed By: Melissa Minners
I have a terrific friend who challenges me to read books I might never have pursued on my own. Recently, I received You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar. The book’s subtitle is Crazy Stories About Racism. Inside was a note from my friend which said, “because sometimes we need to laugh at the terrible things.” I looked suspiciously at this book. How could racism be funny? Only one way to find out.
As the book opens, we are introduced to Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar, two sisters. Amber has long ago moved from Omaha, Nebraska and is a comedy writer living in New York City. Lacey, however, still lives in the Midwest and, apparently, this area is ripe for racism. According to Amber, there are many stories regarding what Lacey has to deal with daily in her working and personal life that prove racism is far from over in the Midwest. But as I read these stories…and grew infuriated with some of them…I began to realize that much of the same could be said about the New England Coast, the South, the far west. In fact, we really haven’t gotten away from racism, despite how educated or enlightened some claim to be.
As one travels through this book, they will note that some of the things said to Lacey are built on pure ignorance of Blacks as a race, culture, human being. Ignorance is not an excuse for racism, not something we should just poo-poo at, thinking these fools know not what they say. As Lacey feels, this is a teachable moment in which we can inform ignorant people wo that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again. But other things, the pure racism taught by generations of people who don’t like anyone different from they are…well, those things are harder to stomach. The idea that someone perusing items in a store should be judged by their race is racism at its prime and something I have had to deal with when working loss prevention years ago. I would often argue with managers who would want me to follow the young Black individual who entered the store while the white male with the suitcase in Health and Beauty was stealing the store blind. What was their reasoning regarding one person’s propensity to steal over the other, I would ask, but never would I get a satisfactory answer.
So, how can remarks about Black people’s hair, education, etc. be funny? Well, you’re right, it simply isn’t funny to read some of the things that Amber and Lacey discuss. But there are some instances when people are just so downright ignorant that the situation can’t help but be funny, especially the way Amber Ruffin writes them. I did find myself laughing at some instances, but for the most part, especially when reading about how Amber and Lacey’s mother dealt with certain instances, You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism will piss you off.
You’re probably wondering why you should read this book if it will make you so mad, right? Well, you should read this book for the education it imparts. You may have your own ignorant views of Blacks that can be squashed by this book. But for the most part, you should read this book so you remember that this stuff still goes on relatively unchecked, especially now that more than one of our government leaders has made it seem okay to speak and act a certain way toward races that are different from yours. For no other reason than that, you should recommend this book to others. The more people are shocked or infuriated with what they read in You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey, the more people will stand up and demand change…or at least try to effect change anyway.