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Brown Enough

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*received for free from netgalley for honest review* really great read, enjoyed and related to it. was hard to put down!
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Brown Enough was a standout to me.  Part memoir, part call to action - Christopher's tone and urgency was raw, aunthentic, and tender.  I think this book will offer support and understanding to many of the global majority who sometimes feel lost in the "in between". This was a powerful debut that I hope to revisit again soon.
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A beautifully written and well thought out memoir exploring multiple stories and truths. It was great to listen to.
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"Brown Enough" was a delightful book to listen to. Narrated by the author himself, this book felt like you were sitting across the table from him at a coffee shop, just chatting about life- your hopes, dreams, fears, concerns- sharing thoughts and experiences as a brown person in America.

Christopher Rivas is very thoughtful in recounting his failures and his successes as real moments in his life that taught him something, and is careful to emphasize that he is still learning- that we all are.

I enjoyed this book primarily because it made me feel less alone. I'm not the only one who has these thoughts, I'm not the only one who struggles in this way, who ponders their vague place in the middle, who deals with microaggressions and the unrealistic expectations of people we encounter in every day life who want to categorize us into easily-understood boxes and are surprised or frustrated when we don't fit.

The struggle to speak out, the constant exhaustion from being the only one who does speak in a room where you're the only non-white person; the constant pressure to assimilate, the constant judgment whether you do or do not.

Hearing someone else voice some of the thoughts that constantly float around in my own mind was, frankly, comforting.

This book, to me, was lovely and easy to listen to, and I would definitely have a coffee with Christopher Rivas again. I recommend you pull up a chair, too, and listen to what he has to say.
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“I am in charge of the words I don’t speak.”

This memoir is written by Christopher Rivas, an actor, author, podcaster, and storyteller, and his personal journey with anti-racism. Rivas writes about how white supremacy has affected his personal life through generational trauma, Eurocentric standards of beauty, and entertainment media. Rivas writes about his journey towards decolonization; his successes and missteps along the way. I liked how honest Rivas was about this. As someone who is also striving towards anti-racism and decolonizing my mindset and life, I make mistakes all the time and it was nice to see that I wasn’t the only one who struggles. While I wouldn’t say this is informational reading for anti-racism, this memoir is great additional reading for anyone who is interested in pursuing anti-racism. Check out Brown Enough by Christopher Rivas, available tomorrow, October 11, 2022.
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Brown Enough: True Stories about Love, Violence, the Student Loan Crisis, Hollywood, Race, Familia, and Making It in America by Christopher Rivas is a very honest and soulful take on race in America from a Brown man. Discussing everything from colorism to homelesseness to dating. Rivas was not afraid to admit what made him grow and showed his vulnerable side.

The way the book opens really stuck with me. Rivas talks about seeing Ta-Nehisi Coates speak about racism in America being a very black-and-white issue, one that leaves little room for all that comes in between. As a Black woman, my experience is really black-and-white, so reading this book really opened my eyes to other experiences.

One of my favorite essays in the collection is Rivas going over his reflections of being a writer. I really connect with the message about learning and being vulnerable in such a public way. Even putting together this book, he ran the risk of disturbing relationships by revealing things about himself and the people he loves and has loved.

Rivas’s writing is so down to earth and relatable, but sensitive at the same time. I listened to the audiobook, and I really liked the animation he brought to the story. I also liked how he was inviting but not alienating. There is a fine balance between leaving things internal for the culture and over explaining things to people outside of the culture that is alienating for your own people. Rivas strikes that balance well.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. I could connect to it on a personal level, even though I am not Latinx. In Brown Enough you can see into the in-between of black and white.
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Many thanks to Netgalley, OrangeSky Audio and the author, for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Being a brown person in a predominantly white country where you are stand out for literally every aspect of you is haunting!! trust me I know! This book left me feeling seen and understood at the same time opened wounds that are raw and painful.

And obviously I picked up this book only because of this title. 

Being in the era where the long standing fight of racial equality is 'almost' at the forefront, I have always felt inadequate to speak as a POC, as a brown person, because the conversation around race as Christopher Rivas points out again and again is predominantly binary, black and white. So do where do me and almost 60 percent of the world population stand. This book dug out a lot of trauma. The author rightfully talks how as brown children, the only thing we are taught about fitting in is assimilating and becoming closest to white as possible. I have been repeatedly told as a young girl, that how blessed I would have been if I was the lighter brown complexion of my mother, rather than the darker one of my father's. I have been made to feel bad about my color, my skin, my looks for it is too much brown. It took me a decade of self love to love my own skin and feel comfortable in it. You ask what colonization left us with...this....the way we need to learn to love our skin.

This book is well paced and well articulated. It travels from what it means to be among the multitude of shades of brown to student loans to the great lie of the American dream. The loans, multi-billionaires eating away on the society, microaggressions, racial appropriation to so much more. There is apart where Chris talks about how he fought with his father to make him accept that he is racist! That hit close to home!

My POC friends: Read this book only if you are ready to face some of your trauma, demons and accept the fight that comes with us JUST EXISTING

My White friends: Read this book with an open mind, not defensive and accepting of the reality that the history has created for us!
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Favorite quote: "The burden of change has been placed on the ones who have needed others to change for far too long."

Review: 
I love memoirs. I just love hearing or reading about people's stories. You learn so much when you get to see life from someone else's perspective. Adn this was no exception.
Christopher Rivas reflects on most of the important subjects impacting us today: college, racial justice, economics, the pandemic, human relationships...
It was so intriguing to hear about his journey from New York to his career now; how he navigated this world, and managed to make it his own.
This is the kind of book that makes you reflect on your own life journey so far, what you've managed to accomplish.
But it wasn't some kind of lesson. It was just a man, telling his story. Making you laugh at times, and cry during other chapters.

The audiobook version is narrated by Christopher Rivas himself. I'm always fond of authors narrating their own memoirs and autobiography. I find it adds authenticity to the book. The narration here was perfect. It fluid and perfectly paced.
I can only recommend listening to this book if you want to read it!

Thank you NetGalley, Row House/OrangeSky Audio and the author for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Disclaimer: I'm not in a habit of rating memoir, because it oddly feels like rating someone's life? But since a rating is required here, I've decided to make it about the quality of the writing, the fluidity of it and about the audio narration. Thus making it a 5 star read for me.
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In this memoir, Christopher Rivas reflects on what it means to be brown in a country that largely talks only about black and white.  This is a voice that needs to be at the table, and Rivas does a fantastic job sharing his experience.  Once I started this book, I could not put it down.  Rivas did an excellent job narrating his own audiobook.  I highly recommend this book!

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me an audio ARC of this book.
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Thank you to NetGalley and OrangeSky Audio for advanced access to the audiobook of Brown Enough by Christopher Rivas in exchange for an honest review. 

“…tension is a good thing. Most White people don’t experience enough of the repercussions of sitting in the shit that comes out of their mouths.” 

Quote reference in this book: “We have to treat others as part of who we are rather than as a ‘them’ with whom we are in constant competition.” - Robert Bellah, Habits of the Heart

I was interested in this book from the time I read the title, and the synopsis intrigued me even further. Christopher Rivas writes from a perspective I have not often heard, the middle ground between Black and White. Even in the books often recommended on race, there is so often books presented from either end of that spectrum of identity. I enjoyed having a different perspective and learning the ways in which that middle ground is overlooked. I found there were so many insights and connections shared by Rivas that I have not heard expressed before. 

One of the topics in this book that was immediately relatable to me was the thoughts expressed on student loans. It hit me so hard to learn about loans from Rivas’ perspective and see the ways in which they are even more of a burden to marginalized communities. I knew this but I could not fully grasp the myriad of ways that I’ve never experienced personally. 

This was a must-read for me, and I hope many more people (especially White people) read this book and value the knowledge and experiences Rivas shares. These connections are necessary to bridge these gaps between identities.
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This was powerful and truly made me think on certain things. I felt a lot of this book! Being half Puerto Rican, so much of this really touched me. I am also half African American, so I already knew a lot of this but the brown aspect of things were really eye opening. I have asked my mom a lot of the question that were answered in this book. I have highlighted so much in this book! I could not put it down! I am absolutely buying a copy for my sister. I know she will love this one just as much as I do.
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Brown Enough: True Stories About Love, Violence, the Student Loan Crisis, Hollywood, Race, Familia, and Making it in America

I Picked Up This Book Because: The title.

Media Type: Audiobook
Source: Review copy provided by Netgalley
Dates Read: 9/12/22 - 9/15/22
Stars: 4.5 Stars
Narrator(s): Christopher Rivas


The Story:

I had no idea who Christopher Rivas was when I requested this ARC.(Turns out I did but I didn’t know I did.) He opened up a perspective for me that I’ve never considered. In the exploding conversations of black and white where do brown people stand? Of course he can not speak for all of the races in between but he did an excellent job of sharing his perspective and the problems concerning people who look like him. Every race has their ideal physical type and people, be they family, friends or professionals in your life, has an opinion on what it is and how you should achieve it. It's rather depressing but Rivas gives us these hard truths with enough charm to make them swallowable.

The Random Thoughts:
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Christopher Rivas is an actor, writer and podcaster who identifies as a cisgender, Afro-Dominican-Colombian, New Yorker who speaks Spanglish. One day, while watching Ta-Nehesi Coates give a live talk on racism, Chris ventured to raise the question: Where do people like me belong in this conversation? Coates simply said, "You don't." Rather than understanding this as Brown people don't belong in the conversation per se, he took it to mean that they are simply not in it. And so, this book is Rivas's attempt to locate the Brown experience within the national conversation on race.

This book is full of gems, but as I listened to it, I was unable to catch them all, reason for which, when this book comes out in print, I will definitely purchase it. Rivas takes on conversations on race, class, family, the student loan crisis, global warming and more. As a child, his grandmother taught him to pinch his nose every day, and to sleep with a clothespin on it at night, in hopes of making his nose less Black looking. Even after succumbing to getting a nose job (so that he could be selected for more roles where he would be deemed racially ambiguous), Rivas continued to pinch his nose, so ingrained was the white gaze in him.

As the child of immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Colombia, Rivas  talks a lot about assimilation and the negative affects that it had on his family He also tells about his decision not to date white women. We also learn about his monstrous student loan debt - where he calls on Jeff Bezos to pay off all of them.

This book is excellent, Rivas is the real deal - he doesn't mince words and he talks to the reader like he's talking to a friend. Highly recommend this one!!
#Netgalley #audiobooks #BrownEnough
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Favorite quotes: Until the Lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the Hunter.

You can't prepare for intimacy and vulnerability. That's the shit that really hurts. That's showing someone who you truly are.

TL;DR: this is a good book with many points that can help someone who wants to understand what life is like for brown people.

Being a woman that came from a mother that was white and an immigrant father from Cuba, I understand all too well most of what Christopher Rivas talked about in Brown Enough: Latin/BIPOC erasure, (micro) aggressions, privilege that our cultures will likely never have, assumptions as to how we identify because of our skin tone, and so many other things that one cannot understand unless they've lived it themselves. I also questioned if that expectation of "making it" once you get a white woman is why my parents were together, brief as their relationship was. Was that same mindset also indoctrinated in him when he was growing up in Cuba? I'll never know, but it's likely.

While I did find some things Christopher Rivas shared to be profound and others to be my own life experiences or words, there were some that were so outlandish that I was shaking my head in disbelief. He is an idealist, as am I, but our ideals are vastly different. I listened to him with an open mind, but simply could not agree with him. While he certainly didn't have the same privilege as his white counterparts, he did have choices of going to college or not, which school to go to given their cost, getting loans to go there, whether to pursue acting, not to stand up to the writers/producers at Call Me Kat, change his body to fit casting agents' desires, and so many other things in he experienced. Yes, some of these choices will have changed the course of his life, maybe for the better, likely for the worse, but he still had the freedom to choose. He is now complaining about what he had to go through like it was done to him without his input, which was hard for me to listen to or sympathize with because he didn't hold himself accountable for the majority of the book. I understand acting was his calling and he wanted to do whatever he could to pursue it and that the expectations put on him are racist and unreasonable but complaining isn't going to change it. Be like Ava DuVernay.

He also glamorized Porfirio Rubirosa, only speaking of the good he did, admiring him with childlike abandon even though he is an adult. (And blamed his father for never telling him about Rubi. I'm sorry, what?!) He hypocritically fell into the Latin stereotypes when discussing him, almost like, "it's okay for me to say these things because I am Latin like him".

I was deeply moved by his retelling of Elijah McClain's horrific encounter with police. I'm happy that things have somewhat progressed from when this was written, but none of that will bring Elijah back. It's terrifying that this is our lives, and that we're the ones having to have these talks with our children that white children (or passing) will never have. However, as a parent, I was enraged by him taking the liberty to tell a child that yes, kids get murdered all the time, in hopes it would push the child's parents to talk with him. While you may not agree, how someone chooses to raise their child is their right as a parent. You don't have the right to push your desires/beliefs onto anyone else's child. You won't be around for the repercussions and cannot undo any fear you put into that child. Completely irresponsible.

He mentioned that asking where Latinos fit in the black and white conversation and being told he/they/we don't. I feel that way all the time. Black Lives Matter matters, Stop Asian Hate matters, but where's anything to help the Latin refugees/immigrants coming from their homes to ours for safety, help, opportunity, etc.? They are separated from their children, put in cages, raped, abandoned, killed, blamed for dying when trying to smuggle into the country, treated like they're not human, and, simply put, don't matter. While people know about it, nothing is done because it's branded as political. A human being should never be treated as a commodity for your political gain. If it was reversed, you would be outraged and demand something be done about it. But since they're oppressed, it continues.

However, while he acknowledged he didn't speak for all brown people, as it's impossible, I felt like there was no place for my mixed self within Christopher Rivas' book. Yes, my skin is a beautiful shade of cinnamon that I get from my father and I'm Latin because he's Cuban, but I felt insignificant and erasure for my unseen whiteness that is still half of me (as he also flippantly did to fellow Cuban Cameron Diaz because she's passing). Minimizing the white woman that came to his show because he didn't like her comparing the shades of white with the shades of brown (which I fundamentally understand the difference as the privilege that comes from looking any shade of white is so much different than any other skin tone), his dismissiveness of her experience shows his unwillingness to see that other people do have similar plights that he can't understand. The ramifications of these differences will never match up or be exact but unwilling to be open is only further perpetuating the divisiveness between "us" and "them", which means he's no better than the people he's talking about. It also creates a threshold of, if X hasn't happened to you, you don't matter yet, which invalidates someone else for not having the same experience as you.

Overall, I give Brown Enough 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. There really were profound statements and thoughts that people would benefit from hearing and knowing so they can try to understand what life is like for others. I think I just had higher expectations, which is on me; he's a fellow Latino that was given a platform to speak on the issues we Latinos face and I feel like it wasn't put to the best use.

Thank you to Row House by OrangeSky Audio for providing me with an ALC.
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Thank you to NetGalley and OrangeSky Audio for the advance audiobook of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Wow!  I only knew about Christopher Rivas from television’s Call me Kat, but now I want to see him in more!

Somehow I thought this was going to be a humorous take on a number of topics… Okay, there were definitely some funny bits, but this book was REAL. The audiobook is read by the author, and it really squeezed most of the important topics of the day into 7 hours, 5 minutes , and 48 seconds. 

Having a kid who just graduated from college during the pandemic, I really appreciated Rivas’ take on the student loan crisis.  Hopefully recent developments there will help others in the situation he described. 

He even managed to squeeze in a few topics not included in the subtitle, such as the environment, and little steps we can do to help without changing our entire lifestyles.

He made me consider trying meditation.

But the main focus was in the title—about being brown enough in a black and white world.  As a fellow “ethnically ambiguous” individual, everything he said about this really made me feel all the feels. So much that I’ve never really been able to put into words—Rivas made me feel seen.

I listened to this book, but now I want to get the hard copy and read it, and highlight it, and make other people read it…

Wow.
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This was such an interesting listen. It is part memoir, part social commentary really. Great writing that was both painful and shameful to listen to at times with some tough questions to consider.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook!! In Brown Enough, Christopher Rivas shares his experiences as a BIPOC person in America.  As a Dominican American, Rivas offered a perspective we don’t often see.  Rivas shared his lived experiences of being in a “cultured body” in a country that doesn’t always see him for his true authentic self was very deep.   I really appreciated learning about his experiences & how they have impacted his life.  This one is a must read for sure!!!  

Special thanks to Christopher Rivas, Row House (OrangeSky Audio) for the opportunity to listen to this early access edition.
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This was a phenomenal book that made me feel so many emotions, ranging from laughter to sadness to feelings of joy. Christopher Rivas does a wonderful job intertwining his personal life experiences with that of so many other Latino families. There were moments where the sadness I felt for him was also a sadness I felt for myself. Primarily because Rivas has come to terms with his own struggles, something I know many of us in his same position wish we could also do. 

This book was also very educational as well. I learned so much about culture through this book that it led me to continue doing research on my end. 

This is a book I would definitely recommend to others.

Thank you Netgalley for my advanced reader copy.
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Thank you to NetGalley and OrangeSky Audio for advanced access to the audiobook of Brown Enough by Christopher Rivas in exchange for an honest review. 

CW: racism, colorism, violence, police brutality, death, murder, see growing list on StoryGraph. 

Christopher Rivas shares stories of his personal experiences being a brown person of mixed heritage in a country rife with systemic racism, in a career where he is labeled "ethnically ambiguous". 

This is a fantastic intersectional exploration of brownness in America. It serves as part-memoir, part cultural competence nonfiction and was a wonderful read. I loved Rivas' use of the term "cultured body" to describe anyone who lives in a body that is not white, European, thin, heterosexual, cis-gendered, and able-bodied. This term serves to encompass all those who suffer at the hands of systemic racism, classism, and oppression. Rivas courageously and vulnerably shares personal insights and experiences of being taught to hate his own body in this culture. This is a beautiful and important book, and one in a long list of fantastic books that offer own-voices insight that everyone should be listening to.
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book review 

Brown Enough - Christopher Rivas

blurb: At a time when disinformation, hate crimes, inequality, racial injustice, and white supremacy are on the rise, Brown Enough, part memoir and part social commentary, emerges, asking readers to proudly put their bodies, their identities, into the conversations of race. Brown Enough is a roller coaster of finding one's true self while simultaneously having a racial awakening amidst the struggle to be "perfectly" Latinx, woke, and as Brown as possible to make it in today's America.

Brown Enough is the very impressive biography of actor, author and podcaster Christopher Rivas. As you know by now, I refrain from rating non-fiction works but if I did, this would get 5 stars from me.

It's shocking, engaging, eye-opening and, in my opinion, much needed. I listened to the audiobook which I can highly recommend since it's read by the author himself. 

If you want to know what to expect, I'll leave you with a moment that was very vital in the life of the author:

""All I hear is black and white. As a Brown man, a Latin man, where does that leave me?" Coates took a short breath and responded, "Not in it.""

Brown Enough makes you think, really think, about the world in regard to race and about your own behaviour. Pub date is the 11th of October. 

Thank you so much @netgalley and @rowhouse for this ARC!
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