Title: Black and White
Author: Ben Burgess Jr
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Blurb: When the prestigious law firm of Wayne, Rothstein, and Lincoln catches two major cases—a rape case where a White NBA star allegedly raped a Black stripper, and a murder case where a Black rapper allegedly killed gay couple and two policemen—Bill O’Neil and Ben Turner are tasked to handle these racially charged litigations. The cases hit emotional chords with the two lawyers and force them to reckon with their interracial relationships and families. Will the racial tension of their cases destroy them or make them stronger?
We arrived at Becky’s parents’ house. Their butler, Bernard, greeted us at the door and escorted us to the dining room.
“Hey, Dad. Hey, Mom.”
Susan hugged Becky and gave me a light peck on the cheek.
Mr. Preston greeted us with a faux-grin, hugged Becky and grudgingly gave me a weak handshake.
“Glad to see you could make it, Ben,” he said nonchalantly.
“I’m glad I could make it. Mr. Preston, can I talk to you about something later?”
He looked at me skeptically. “Sure thing.”
Becky leaned over and asked me, “What do you have to talk to him about?”
“Nothing. Just man stuff.”
Becky smiled. “You’re up to something.”
I gave her a quick kiss.
We sat down at the table, and as usual, Becky tried to impress her parents by telling them about my accomplishments and successes, but they were unmoved. She told them about my new case and how important it would be for my career.
“Ben has been working so hard at his firm that he was given that case that’s all over the news.”
“What case is that, dear?” Susan asked.
“You know, the one with the rapper that killed the two cops and gay couple. He’s being considered for partnership.”
For once, Mrs. Preston looked impressed by the news. “That’s wonderful!”
Mr. Preston grunted and faced me. “Who else is up for consideration?”
“Bill, another lawyer who has also been winning a lot of cases for the firm,” I said.
“Let me guess: Bill is White.”
“Not that it matters, but yes.”
Mr. Preston sighed. “Of course, you wouldn’t think it matters. Are there any Black partners in your firm?”
“I’m sure it doesn’t matter how hard Bill works; you’ll end up getting the position over him. That’s how things work nowadays.”
Becky squeezed my hand, attempting to keep me calm while he continued.
“You’ll get it automatically because you’re Black, and the White guy will probably never move up in your firm.” Richard snickered. “The media is always talking about White privilege, but the only privilege I see is with you people.”
I curled my bottom lip to hold my tongue from cursing him out.
He was part of the reason why I worked so hard. He fueled my endless motivation. Every day I busted my ass to show people like him that Black people weren’t just thugs, criminals and drug addicts. I wanted to prove to him and small-minded individuals that my people were sophisticated, intelligent and just as good as his were. Even though I knew he believed his race was superior, I wanted him to see there was no difference or gap between us. I was equally as capable and as smart as anyone in his race.
“You know what your minorities will never understand?” Mr. Preston asked me.
“What would that be, sir?”
“Steven—” Mrs. Preston said.
“No, society coddles minorities too much. He needs to hear this, Susan.” He faced me. “You people always want more and think things should be equal. When does it end? I’m not blind. I know that right now, White people hold the majority of power in this country, but why should we give it up? We built this country—”
“Off the backs of those minorities you’re talking about,” I said.
“Regardless of that, it was White men who built this country, and if minorities had it their way, they’d push White people out of power and make us the minority. While that’s good for you and your people, what about my race? Why would I want to see a shitty world like that?”
“It wouldn’t be a bad world. It would be how races should be treated in this world: equal.”
“Again, you’re still not grasping, how does that benefit me as a White person?”
“You wouldn’t feel good doing what’s right?”
“Please, don’t talk to me about morals,” he said. “You’re getting paid well to represent a murderer, and I’m sure as an attorney you’ve manipulated the law plenty of times to benefit your firm when you knew it wasn’t morally right. The same rules apply to me. I’m not worried about your race or any other minority. I’m concerned about my own benefit.”
He laughed and said, “Frankly, as a White man I don’t give a shit about minorities killing each other. It’s one less mouth on welfare mooching off of my tax dollars.”
Becky rested her hand on my thigh to calm me.
Before things got out of hand, I said, “Let’s just agree to disagree.”
“Ben, that’s the smartest thing you’ve said all night,” he said.
After listening to Mr. Preston talk for a good two hours about how he was so happy to see Obama leave and proud to have a strong, wealthy White man back in the White House again, he finally shut up and asked me to speak with him privately.
“Ben, while the women gossip, let’s go into my study so we can talk man to man.”
I nodded and followed him.
As soon as the door shut, Mr. Preston stopped smiling.
“Have a seat, Ben. We can drop the bullshit now; you know my daughter can’t hear us in here.”
I sat down. Mr. Preston leaned back in his black leather executive chair, lit a cigar and blew the smoke in my direction.
“Now, what do you want?” he asked, and took another long puff on his cigar.
“I won’t beat around the bush. I love Rebecca, and I wanted to ask you for your blessing when I ask her to marry me.”
He laughed at me. “Absolutely not. I’ve entertained this phase she’s going through and put up with your sham of a relationship for years because I love my daughter, but there’s no way in hell I’d allow you to ever marry her. No matter what you do, you’ll never be good enough for my daughter. ”
“Why is that? I’m no slouch. I’ve worked hard all my life, and I’ve always done well…”
“You people are all the same. You might be wrapped in a nicer package, but when it comes down to it, you’re no different from the other Blacks I’ve met.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He sighed. “I thought you were smarter than that. Do you need me to spell it out for you? OK, here goes: you’ve gone to prestigious schools, so you’re not a complete dummy. You have a decent job and you drive around in a nice car, but nothing will change the fact that you’re Black. It doesn’t matter how many fancy degrees you have or how much money you make; you can’t change that fact. I don’t want my daughter to just do ‘well.’ If she married you, it would be a downgrade.”
“Downgrade? I work just as hard if not harder than you.”
“But you’re still Black.”
“So?” I asked.
“I don’t want people in power to look at my daughter in pity when they know she’s married to you. If you were married, any children you had would be Black, and I don’t want your race ruining my gene pool. I’d rather my daughter be a lesbian than marry a nigger. That might sound harsh to you, but I’m being honest.”
With his last comment, I stood up and headed for the door. My hand on the doorknob, I turned to him and said, “With your blessing or without it, I love Becky, and nothing you say or do will stop me from asking her to marry me.”
“I’ll never let it happen.”
“We’ll just have to see, won’t we?”
The tragedy of it all was that I’d been law-abiding all my life, received a high education, a great career and now I was rising to gain the American dream by being a Black partner in a White-dominated firm, but in the eyes of many ignorant people like Mr. Preston, I would never be more than a nigger.
Review by Amber:
I am giving this book 5 stars. It’s a wonderful get to meet 2 major couples, Ben and Becky and Billy with Ebony. Ben and Billy both work in the same firm and have to solve both their cases and the one that won would be considered for partner. Yet, they expect Ben to lose because they do not want an African American as a partner.
The book really does delve into how hard it is to have an interracial relationship as white people think that dating a black woman is because of the sex. A white man dating a black woman is seen is the women stealing all the good men and leaving the black women with nothing. Becky’s parents are portrayed as the typical white racists and Ben’s parents don’t think Becky is not worthy of him.
Both relationship go through so much and changes both couples for the better. Each one grows into their ‘color’ and nothing can pull them apart. I would recommend this book for everyone, it reads fast and it really is something all should read to open your mind against racism. Read and makes you really think about the relationships between African Americans and white individuals.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Ben Burgess Jr is the author of the award-winning novels “Monster,” “Wounded,” “Love and Happiness,” ” Daddy’s Girl,” and the new novel “Black and White.” He is an active performer of spoken word poetry. Ben Burgess Jr uses his love of writing to inspire and influence youths to strive for what they believe in and to never give up on their dreams. His novels “Monster” and “Wounded” are currently used in schools on the lower east side of Manhattan. Ben Burgess has a BA degree in Business Management and an MA degree in Educational Leadership. He is the proud father of his daughters Jaelynn and Jaclyn and he is active in trying to improve urban neighborhoods and communities.
Giveaway information: Ben Burgess Jr will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Rafflecopter link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2480