Tyler Merritt's video "Before You Call the Cops" has been viewed millions of times. He's appeared on Jimmy Kimmel and Sports Illustrated and has been profiled in the New York Times. The viral video's main point—the more you know someone, the more empathy, understanding, and compassion you have for that person—is the springboard for this book. By sharing his highs and exposing his lows, Tyler welcomes us into his world in order to help bridge the divides that seem to grow wider every day.
In I Take My Coffee Black, Tyler tells hilarious stories from his own life as a black man in America. He talks about growing up in a multi-cultural community and realizing that he wasn't always welcome, how he quit sports for musical theater (that's where the girls were) to how Jesus barged in uninvited and changed his life forever (it all started with a Triple F.A.T. Goose jacket) to how he ended up at a small Bible college in Santa Cruz because he thought they had a great theater program (they didn't). Throughout his stories, he also seamlessly weaves in lessons about privilege, the legacy of lynching and sharecropping and why you don't cross black mamas. He teaches readers about the history of encoded racism that still undergirds our society today.
By turns witty, insightful, touching, and laugh-out-loud funny, I Take My Coffee Black paints a portrait of black manhood in America and enlightens, illuminates, and entertains—ultimately building the kind of empathy that might just be the antidote against the racial injustice in our society.
Publisher's Weekly Starred Review:
Actor and comedian Merritt combines comedy, social commentary, autobiography, and religious musings to stunning effect in this kaleidoscopic take on race and religion in America. Merritt, best known for his viral YouTube video “Before You Call the Cops,” recounts his upbringing, during which he was constantly made to feel like a threat: “I have had a lifetime of white women reacting to me in fear, not because of my size, or because of my clothing, but because of my blackness.” Merritt also explores growing up in Las Vegas, his early interests in musical theater, and his chance decision to attend a Bible college. Peppered with pop culture references, wisecracks, and ironic asides, this powerful testament reveals many disheartening realities of being a Black man in America (such as an eye-opening exploration of the history of redlining and segregation in Stockton, Calif.), as well as “the power of proximity to break down barriers and forge real community.” In the end, Merritt effectively conveys the transformative nature of getting to know someone different than oneself. Readers will be awed by Merritt’s brutal honesty and inspiring grassroots approach to countering racial injustice and deep-seated prejudice.