Author of Some of My Best Friends Are Black
About Tanner Colby
Tanner Colby is the author of Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America. He is also, at first glance incongruously, the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts and Belushi: A Biography.
After earning his BA in history at Tulane University in New Orleans, Colby spent several years moonlighting as a sketch comedy writer while working in New York’s advertising industry. Through his comedic work in radio and television, he found his way to working on biographies for two of Saturday Night Live’s most notable alumni. The success of those books offered him the opportunity to choose his next topic and, prompted by the fact that he didn’t have any black friends even though he’d worked to elect a black president, Colby chose to investigate the history of racial integration in America. The result was Some of My Best Friends Are Black.
“Who would expect a coauthor of two Saturday Night Live alumni biographies…to pen a thoughtful, judicious, yet provocative social history of American race relations?” asked Library Journal upon the book’s publication. And rightly so, for the book was a sharp, surprising departure from Colby’s earlier work. Library Journal then answered its own question by calling Some of My Best Friends Are Black “felicitously written” and “a pleasure.” Other critics have since called it “a wonderful book that deserves to be read widely” and “a refreshingly honest and textured story that has much to contribute to conversations about race in America.”
By approaching the knotty subject of race from an affable everyman’s point of view, Colby has brought new thoughts and insights to this often contentious and deadlocked conversation. In addition to writing books, he is also a frequent columnist on the subject of race and culture for Slate magazine. He lives in Brooklyn.
Why Integration Failed, and Why We Need It to Work
After the triumphs of the civil rights movement brought an end to legal segregation, a host of programs and policies—school busing, affirmative action—came to the fore, promising to create an integrated America. By and large, those programs didn’t work, giving rise to the still-separate black and white communities we live in today. With insightful historical analysis and humorous, thought-provoking anecdotes, this speech lays out the reasons why integration failed, how it could work, and why we need it to succeed.
“Diversity”: Why It’s Part of the Problem and Not the Solution
The failure of integration in the 70s and 80s gave rise to a new zeitgeist, one rooted in the idea of celebrating a multicultural, pluralistic society. But this idea of promoting and celebrating diversity in corporate offices and on college campuses has served to further marginalize minorities and entrench the interests of an overwhelmingly white elite. In this talk, Tanner Colby explores the fundamental problems of America’s love affair with “diversity” and how it can be replaced with programs and policies that actually aid the progress of blacks and other minorities in America.Categories: Black History Month Speakers
Books by Tanner Colby
Media About Tanner Colby
- 212 572-2013
- Tanner Colby travels from New York, NY
Some of My Best Friends Are Black
"Who would expect a coauthor of two Saturday Night Live alumni biographies (The Chris Farley Show; Belushi) to pen a thoughtful, judicious, yet provocative social history of American race relations? Evenhanded, felicitously written, and animated by numerous interviews, Colby's book is a pleasure." – Library Journal