A Comedic Take on White Guilt

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid felt very much like a commentary on white liberals’ attempt to  please and appease the few black people around them; mainly due to their white guilt. However none of this is new to us – black people. A lot of it so far has been very predictable and expected. It’s a comedy based on the truth we have to face and live in everyday. With each page, the  laughter came with pain and vice versa. 

The story starts off with Emira Tucker responding to an emergency to aid the white family she babysits for in an upscale part of Philadelphia. She finds herself in the local grocery store where she is accused of kidnapping the child she babysits. She’s questioned and judged by both security and a local shopper who refuses to believe that she has any connection to the child. After going back and forth with both individuals and fearing for herself, Emira calls Briar’s father and is only permitted to leave after he arrives. The incident of course is recorded by the self identified very “woke” male named Kelley Copeland. 

From what we’ve read as a book club, the novel brings up complicated questions about race, prejudice  and social class. Our hope is that the book was written for white people to see how insincere, ludicrous and senseless they sound at times; Written for them to reflect on their behaviors. 

“There were moments like this that Alix tried to breeze over, but they got stuck somewhere between her heart and ears. She knew Emira had gone to college. She knew Emira had majored in English. But sometimes, after seeing her paused songs with titles like “Dope Bitch” and “Y’all Already Know,” and then hearing her use words like connoisseur, Alix was filled with feelings that went from confused and highly impressed to low and guilty in response to her first reaction. There was no reason for Emira to be unfamiliar with this word. And there was no reason for Alix to be impressed. Alix completely knew these things, but only when she reminded herself to stop thinking them in the first place.”

Excerpt From: Kiley Reid. “Such a Fun Age.” Page 127-128.

This shows some self reflection for Alix, but her implicit or unconscious bias hinders her from making such assumptions. In a way it mirrors the mindsets and attitudes of a large population of white people, who limit the potential of other races based on their preconceived prejudice and stereotypes. Someone’s background, lifestyle or simply their taste in music does not make them less than nor does it indicate that they lack knowledge.

The novel is packed with characters and storylines that we related to so well! It is very honest and real, giving a glimpse of what it is like to be  Black in America.

Some of the topics Discussed

  • “If we were in NY this wouldn’t happen”- Comparing how life was for them back in NY as opposed to Where they are now in Philadelphia. As if blavk people as a whole feel differently about racism in different parts of the country. It appears that maybe they lived in a predominantly white area where no one was or would have been affected by their ignorance towards race.  
  • Guilt Alix felt after the grocery store incident- This resulted in Alix finally taking the time to get to know Emira. Evaluating her lifestyle and the people around her. 
  • The old lady at the grocery store leaving after causing damage- this action is very common. Even though she realized at the end of the situation that she was wrong, she left as if she didn’t take part in causing the issue.