Author Interview: Emmanuel Acho

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man is an urgent primer on race and racism, from the host of the viral hit video series of the same name. We spoke with author Emmanuel Acho about the inspiration for Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, narrating his own audiobook, and more!

“You cannot fix a problem you do not know you have. There is a fix. But in order to access it, we’re going to have to have some uncomfortable conversations.”

Emmanuel Acho, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, I thought a lot about my place in the fight against systemic racism. As a Black man who has spent a lot of time in white spaces, I decided I could serve best by speaking—and listening—across the racial divide that has kept so many white Americans ignorant of the ways BIPOC remain marginalized and oppressed. My goal with this book was to create a space where tough questions could get honest answers, with compassion all around.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

It might surprise you that it’s not all gloom and doom. I try to approach all of these conversations with humor, as well as with patience and love, because that’s a fundamental way of connecting with anyone. I also just had a great time narrating this, and I think that comes through in the listen.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

I better have—I narrated it! What struck me was how satisfying it was to speak these words, after writing them. Most of my audience first encountered me through my voice—through my video series—so this felt like a way of going full circle, speaking directly to those I know want to hear.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

Bookstores are like a passport to adventure. They’re like arriving at the airport without a ticket, and whatever book you pick up, that’s where you’re headed. Bookstores have opened worlds to me my whole life, and now that I’m in the writing business, I hope to open worlds to others.

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