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I Take My Coffee Black: Reflections on Tupac, Musical Theater, Faith, and Being Black in America

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As a 6'2" dreadlocked black man, Tyler Merritt knows what it feels like to be stereotyped as threatening, which can have dangerous consequences. But he also knows that proximity to people who are different from ourselves can be a cure for racism.  Tyler Merritt's video "Before You Call the Cops" has been viewed millions of times. He's appeared on Jimmy Kimmel and Sports Il As a 6'2" dreadlocked black man, Tyler Merritt knows what it feels like to be stereotyped as threatening, which can have dangerous consequences. But he also knows that proximity to people who are different from ourselves can be a cure for racism.  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.


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As a 6'2" dreadlocked black man, Tyler Merritt knows what it feels like to be stereotyped as threatening, which can have dangerous consequences. But he also knows that proximity to people who are different from ourselves can be a cure for racism.  Tyler Merritt's video "Before You Call the Cops" has been viewed millions of times. He's appeared on Jimmy Kimmel and Sports Il As a 6'2" dreadlocked black man, Tyler Merritt knows what it feels like to be stereotyped as threatening, which can have dangerous consequences. But he also knows that proximity to people who are different from ourselves can be a cure for racism.  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.

30 review for I Take My Coffee Black: Reflections on Tupac, Musical Theater, Faith, and Being Black in America

  1. 4 out of 5

    MonsRuiz

    If you are going to read this book, then I would Strongly recommend you do this with the Audiobook. Between Tyler’s tone of voice and the little effects contained with in, it was a wonderful book/story to listen too. I had know idea who Tyler was prior to listening to this book. I have not seen the viral video’s he has made. So his story has hit me with the full impact. The first chapter had me in tears, tears of sadness, (glad I was not on the train). The thought that a person has to make so much If you are going to read this book, then I would Strongly recommend you do this with the Audiobook. Between Tyler’s tone of voice and the little effects contained with in, it was a wonderful book/story to listen too. I had know idea who Tyler was prior to listening to this book. I have not seen the viral video’s he has made. So his story has hit me with the full impact. The first chapter had me in tears, tears of sadness, (glad I was not on the train). The thought that a person has to make so much effort walking a street to change their appearance in an attempt to make another person feel better about their environment because of skin colour is heartbreaking. The remainder of the book is a mixture of happiness and life struggles, and just putting it out there, the ice cream story is not ok, anyone who does that should be totally ashamed of themselves. I have learnt a lot from this one and I have Tyler to thank for that. The audiobook ends on a really lovely good feels note. I would highly recommend this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nadine Keels

    I'll admit I hadn't heard of actor, comedian, and activist Tyler Merritt until I found out about his new memoir, I Take My Coffee Black: Reflections on Tupac, Musical Theater, Faith, and Being Black in America. I read this part of the book blurb: "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 I'll admit I hadn't heard of actor, comedian, and activist Tyler Merritt until I found out about his new memoir, I Take My Coffee Black: Reflections on Tupac, Musical Theater, Faith, and Being Black in America. I read this part of the book blurb: "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..." With that, I immediately wanted to read the book. I'm gripped by the occasional memoir, and it isn't often that I come across a Christian one that draws my interest. As I got into this book, it didn't take me long to see, "Ah, yes. Merritt is a comedian, all right." Plenty of humor in books makes me smile at least, but it doesn't always make me laugh. This author is definitely laugh-out-loud funny. And it's good that "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" (thank you, Mary Poppins), as this author's voice isn't only compelling when it comes to fun and games, so to speak. As he conveys the disappointment, fear, anger, and grief wrapped up in his experiences, his voice comes through just as clearly. One early part that most resonated with me is where the author reflects on being made in the image of God. However, a content issue that took me completely off guard is the profanity in the book. I expect to possibly run into some language in secular works, and though I'm never comfortable with it, I can usually keep reading when the language isn't excessive and the book's overall message is important. But profanity just isn't something I want to run into and have to push through when I reach for a book from a Christian publisher. After trying to stick with this one for a while, I decided not to push through any further. Even though I didn't finish it, I don't think this author's story is any less important. For readers who wouldn't find the language to be an issue, I think this memoir is still worth checking out. _________ I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melinda Ryen

    I've been reading a lot of books by Black authors over the last few years. The never-ending killings of Black people by cops was wearing me down. I knew if this white woman was feeling it, the Black community was in deep suffering. I had to learn more; how could I help? Tyler's book is unlike any of the books I've read so far. He shares his personal story with great transparency, and had me laughing and crying throughout. Reading his book feels like you're sitting across from him, having a conver I've been reading a lot of books by Black authors over the last few years. The never-ending killings of Black people by cops was wearing me down. I knew if this white woman was feeling it, the Black community was in deep suffering. I had to learn more; how could I help? Tyler's book is unlike any of the books I've read so far. He shares his personal story with great transparency, and had me laughing and crying throughout. Reading his book feels like you're sitting across from him, having a conversation. But wait...is it a history book? Because I learned some things I wish I didn't have to, but need to, and I am not alone. Tyler's big on proximity, and he's not wrong. The dictionary defines it as "nearness in space, time, or relationship". Tyler's book shows why it's so important, how it "destroys suspicion and distrust", breeding empathy. He has orchestrated projects that bring unlikely people together, for important, life-changing conversations. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll also be encouraged by this book. Tyler has a way of reaching through the pages to impart how special you are (yes, YOU!) I usually have about three books going at one time, and I planned to take my time with I Take My Coffee Black, savoring it in bits and pieces. That didn't happen! Tyler's book is hard to put down. I'll be reading it again. (I hear the audiobook has some treats!)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Katie Proctor

    5 MILLION stars. This book was honest and hard-hitting, and also LOL funny and tender. I’ll be bossy about this one— READ IT ON AUDIO. The audio is like sitting across the table from him (with his black coffee and me with my vanilla latte thank you very much) listening to a life story with all of its ups and downs. This will be a favorite of the year for sure.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kate Olson

    Yes, yes I did buy this book after finding out that the author is Jen Hatmaker’s new boyfriend. I’m owning it! I really enjoyed it despite it being a gazillion times more Christian focused than what I typically read. I knew that it would be going into it, and read it anyway - just a heads up for any other non-Christian readers. I’ll definitely be looking for more from the author in the future, since I loved his thoughts on living a quality life, activism and acceptance. I also learned a TON abou Yes, yes I did buy this book after finding out that the author is Jen Hatmaker’s new boyfriend. I’m owning it! I really enjoyed it despite it being a gazillion times more Christian focused than what I typically read. I knew that it would be going into it, and read it anyway - just a heads up for any other non-Christian readers. I’ll definitely be looking for more from the author in the future, since I loved his thoughts on living a quality life, activism and acceptance. I also learned a TON about Las Vegas!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mturney1010

    "Distance breeds suspicion. But proximity breeds empathy." ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ At first glance, and I might not seem that compatible. I am a small 30 something white woman whose people come from Utah and a long line of Mormon pioneers. Tyler is a 6ft 2 40-something black man, Christian convert, who's people come from Eutaw, Alabama. We were introduced by our dear mutual friend, Elysha, and bonded over Hamilton and politics. And that is really the point that Tyler is making in his new book I Take My Coffee Black "Distance breeds suspicion. But proximity breeds empathy." ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ At first glance, and I might not seem that compatible. I am a small 30 something white woman whose people come from Utah and a long line of Mormon pioneers. Tyler is a 6ft 2 40-something black man, Christian convert, who's people come from Eutaw, Alabama. We were introduced by our dear mutual friend, Elysha, and bonded over Hamilton and politics. And that is really the point that Tyler is making in his new book I Take My Coffee Black, in book stores and on Amazon September 14th. On the exterior we may not have much in common with the person next to us, but as we open our hearts and minds we see that we are more alike than different. Tyler is a master of breaking down barriers that separate people, and finding those commonalities that forge Christ-like love and friendship. In this open and honest memoir, Tyler weaves his personal history into the backdrop of United States history. Facts, coupled with his experience as a black man, a black son. He does this with contemplation and levity. Reading this book you will laugh out loud and feel as if you are having a conversation with a long time friend. But you will also cry with this friend. I had the opportunity to both read this in print and listen on audio. The audiobook is read by Tyler himself, and is a quality experience.Tyler is sincere and earnest, and asserts the belief that you just can't feel animosity towards another human being if you really know them inside and out.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I broke my phone screen and had two hours to kill while it was being repaired, so of course I went to a book seller. I browsed, stood and read the first few pages of this non-fiction memoir (autobiography?), and picked it up to carry along with me while I browsed on. I will pick up and put down dozens of books on any given visit to a book store. With a cup of London Fog in hand, I sat down, settled in, and decided which of the books I'd start. Two hours later, after getting to know Tyler Merritt I broke my phone screen and had two hours to kill while it was being repaired, so of course I went to a book seller. I browsed, stood and read the first few pages of this non-fiction memoir (autobiography?), and picked it up to carry along with me while I browsed on. I will pick up and put down dozens of books on any given visit to a book store. With a cup of London Fog in hand, I sat down, settled in, and decided which of the books I'd start. Two hours later, after getting to know Tyler Merritt, I blinked myself back to reality and headed back to 'real life' connected to a multi-media device that poked, buzzed, and prodded me out of any type of immersion or mindfulness. But Tyler and his story kept calling to me. Tyler is funny. Tyler is interesting, but what really drew me to him and his writing was his spirit. He's a sensitive soul, I'm a sensitive soul. He's all about the arts, I'm all about the arts. He hates bananas . . . Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. The penultimate reason I kept eagerly returning to this story is because his soul shines so brightly, you feel it radiating through the paper and ink. The book nearly glows with it. Joy, concern, and love comprise the engine of his heart. What Tyler (I get the feeling he would want me to call him Tyler) cares about is teaching people a fundamental lesson that many can't seem to grasp: you can't judge a book by its cover, you have to engage with it, open it up, read and absorb it. Full disclosure, I will buy a book and a bottle of wine if the cover/label appeals to me. Sometimes a book has a message that requires multiple visits and immersions. Tyler wants us to know that each of us are individual, complex, unique entities. We have a network of people and events that have shaped us as we travel through life. We are all human. Yes, we are all flawed and have made mistakes, but that doesn't make us bad. I'd have coffee with Tyler. For sure. And I'd ask, "—but what about banana bread, Tyler? Surely you can't hate banana bread?" My one lament about this book: The people who really need to 'meet' Tyler and hear his message probably won't read it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elysha

    Completely biased because I love Tyler. But even if I didn’t, this book does a wonderful job of weaving facts and history into his personal narrative. The book made me feel all kinds of emotions, from anger to joy. The audiobook is a totally different experience from the book so listen to that too. ❤️

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robin Woods

    Review coming soon!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Denise Dodge

    I really enjoyed the book. It was an amazing mixture of enlightenment about growing up black in America, the impact of ‘being seen’ and connection with others. Shame, struggles, sin and the redeeming grace of Jesus make Tyler a man I’d truly embrace having coffee with!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Castaneda

    I Take My Coffee Black: Reflections on Tupac, Musical Theater, Faith, and Being Black in America by Tyler Merritt is an important book that I think everyone should read. What does it mean to be a black person in America? I was blessed to know Tyler back in his college years. When I saw that he was writing this book, I knew I wanted to read it because he is one of the most genuinely kind people I have ever met. He's the real deal. To know Tyler is to be fully embraced and accepted as you are. Tha I Take My Coffee Black: Reflections on Tupac, Musical Theater, Faith, and Being Black in America by Tyler Merritt is an important book that I think everyone should read. What does it mean to be a black person in America? I was blessed to know Tyler back in his college years. When I saw that he was writing this book, I knew I wanted to read it because he is one of the most genuinely kind people I have ever met. He's the real deal. To know Tyler is to be fully embraced and accepted as you are. That's how he has always been. Tyler somehow wrapped up his incredible personality and delivered it in the form of a book. Reading this book is like sitting down with him for a life giving, life changing conversation. Come as you are. Listen to his journey. Be willing to challenge your expectations and listen with your heart. You'll never see things the same again. Tyler opens your eyes with his experiences but he has a way of lifting the reader up with his encouragement and honesty. I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages and backgrounds. We need to read it in order to truly understand each other. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    I’ve seen his video “Before You Call The Cops,” his acting on Outer Banks and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Do yourself a favor and check out The Tyler Merritt Project. Good old Bethany Bible College, the memories, (I met my husband there.) Bethany was trying to change their mostly white campus image. While attending there in ‘98 I was part of the Multicultural group which ended up being mostly African Americans and Pacific Islanders. We also went around & sang at various high schools. I kne I’ve seen his video “Before You Call The Cops,” his acting on Outer Banks and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Do yourself a favor and check out The Tyler Merritt Project. Good old Bethany Bible College, the memories, (I met my husband there.) Bethany was trying to change their mostly white campus image. While attending there in ‘98 I was part of the Multicultural group which ended up being mostly African Americans and Pacific Islanders. We also went around & sang at various high schools. I knew of Tyler Merritt and Broken Frame through my husband & we know some of the people that he mentions especially Mike and Josh, Lisa and others. (My husband has known Josh and his family forever & Josh was in our wedding as well!) Broken Frame has an amazing sound! I liked learning more about how they became a band and their Nashville experience. I laughed, I cried, I empathized, I sympathized, I felt his anger, I was furious about how the church treated him (Christians can be some of the most ignorant, unloving, selfish people) and I felt that I was educated and have a firmer grasp of what it’s like being an African American. Being a rebellious 5’7 tattooed MK (missionary kid) having been raised in the church Pacific Islander/white American (descendant of William Brewster who made the Mayflower journey.) I struggle with the duality of my heritage and how people treat me in a certain way. I’ve struggled with church hypocrites and the lack of true repentance, honesty & humility. It’s rare to meet Christians who are willing to talk honestly about their failures, about share how they learned and grew. So Tyler I applaud your truth sharing! He speaks a lot about music and how it has played a big part in his life and such a variety. (I loved Bon Jovi in high school and later in life heard Counting Crows and love them as well.) I liked the style of writing. I appreciated his bold honesty and the willingness to share his story, his struggles, his failures as well as triumphs! Thank you Tyler! It’s not a book you can just read through, I needed to take time to process it and let some of the tough topics marinate as my eyes were opened and I could truly understand. I liked the “math equation,” Proximity (which breeds empathy) + Honesty (vulnerable dialogue)+ Value (seeing each other as having inherent worth)+ A Common Goal( seeing that we’re all in this together)= Better Society Gumbo He details his life in chronological order gave a lot of history and background he wrote from his heart! The brutality that seems to lurk around for African Americans is scary and horrible! It needs to STOP! When he set up that Safe Place where people shared that was powerful!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Candace Wathen

    I loved this book. I don’t say that very often. I am not much of a reader, and I HATE reading on my cell phone. But I read all 18 chapters on my cell phone! That’s how much I loved it. (I got an advanced copy, and I was too technologically obtuse to figure out any other way to download it. So, yeah.) In many places in the book, Tyler would say to go and watch a movie or listen to an album before proceeding. But I just kept reading. I couldn’t put it down. Because I loved it that much. (And also I loved this book. I don’t say that very often. I am not much of a reader, and I HATE reading on my cell phone. But I read all 18 chapters on my cell phone! That’s how much I loved it. (I got an advanced copy, and I was too technologically obtuse to figure out any other way to download it. So, yeah.) In many places in the book, Tyler would say to go and watch a movie or listen to an album before proceeding. But I just kept reading. I couldn’t put it down. Because I loved it that much. (And also I am not as submissive as I thought I was.) I Take My Coffee Black is an autobiography. It is hilarious, poignant, persuasive, educational, and inspiring, and it is written as if Tyler is sitting next to you at your kitchen table, just telling you his story. (Probably why he tells you in the title that he takes his coffee black.) One of the key points Tyler is making is that proximity breeds empathy. So he gives us all proximity to his own heart and soul. He is transparent, in all his awesome beauty of spirit and in all his most shame-filled brokenness. And we can all empathize… because he masterfully lured us into proximity beginning on page one. I learned a lot about Tyler Merritt by reading this, but I also learned about myself and about our society. Racial oppression and conflict (both past and present) are not ignored, but the truths about these issues are related to Tyler’s own life story. So as the reader comes to know (and love) this one black man, they also learn in clear, observable, real, personal illustrations about patterns of injustice that have affected his life and his heart. So the book is awesome. Tyler Merritt is awesome. You really need to and want to read it. You can thank me later. Right now, I have to go watch Miss Saigon.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ali Hamper

    Wow... I did not expect to have so many feelings about this book. Tyler's voice is so authentic from the first moment he begins this story. It's engaging and entertaining in all the best possible ways. Yet the most important thing that is does is provide an impact. It touches the heart in a way that is both nostalgic and reflective. It moves a conversation forward through his own personal life experience. While it is not my story, or yours (unless you're Tyler reading this), but I can guarantee Wow... I did not expect to have so many feelings about this book. Tyler's voice is so authentic from the first moment he begins this story. It's engaging and entertaining in all the best possible ways. Yet the most important thing that is does is provide an impact. It touches the heart in a way that is both nostalgic and reflective. It moves a conversation forward through his own personal life experience. While it is not my story, or yours (unless you're Tyler reading this), but I can guarantee there is something about his story that every single human can relate to on some level. This book opens up the door to a conversation that I believe we have all been desperate to have. Tyler's words and desires for the future to make an impact are all things I have felt, but didn't always have the right words to use. These are things that I have always strived to impart on my child as they grow and become a human that anyone would be proud of. I want everyone to read this book. I want them to reflect upon the thoughts this man has given us to consider. I want us to have a conversation. Communication is a bog part of the human experience, so let us all take these words and see where it can lead us. As someone who was in close proximity to Tyler for one year only, at the Las Vegas Academy, there was always something about his energy that kept me going. There was a moment during one show where he gave me a simple "you did good" type thank you and it's hung with me ever since... now that this book is out in the world, I can already see how his impact will make you feel the same way. We have all made mistakes in our lives, but let's share and learn and grow. Let's make things better together. Open the door, read this book, and let's do just that!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Fatimah Omar

    Funny Reflections, Awesome Performance. If you already know Tyler Merritt you are going to love his stories. If you don't know him you are going to hear about a very likable, funny guy that is everyone's good buddy. However, the overall book was too long and at times too repetitive. I needed the funny break and enjoyed the fresh approach to doing an audible book so it's worth a listen. Funny Reflections, Awesome Performance. If you already know Tyler Merritt you are going to love his stories. If you don't know him you are going to hear about a very likable, funny guy that is everyone's good buddy. However, the overall book was too long and at times too repetitive. I needed the funny break and enjoyed the fresh approach to doing an audible book so it's worth a listen.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jane Maloy

    Okay, I'm going to unload on yall... the only reason that I read/listened to this book was because he's dating my GURL Jen Hatmaker and I figured I would listen to his memoir and give him a chance. This book could have been half the length with all the stories. He would get himself all worked up in an aside and being laughing and laughing.....and THEN he would talk to him producer. It was like an 11 hour podcast. I honestly would have preferred an hour long podcast because towards the end where h Okay, I'm going to unload on yall... the only reason that I read/listened to this book was because he's dating my GURL Jen Hatmaker and I figured I would listen to his memoir and give him a chance. This book could have been half the length with all the stories. He would get himself all worked up in an aside and being laughing and laughing.....and THEN he would talk to him producer. It was like an 11 hour podcast. I honestly would have preferred an hour long podcast because towards the end where he's just shooting the sh** with his friend James was pretty entertaining. But they way he dramatized his entire life was TOO MUCH. maybe I'll watch his youtube channel or his new gf will interview him on her podcast, but I was happy to finish this one.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Griffin

    I Take My Coffee Black is a beautiful blend of comedy and truth with a splash of history. I was surprised how much it made me feel. I never tear up reading a book, but this one… Tyler does what he sets out to accomplish- he works his way into your heart. Maybe it’s because I live in Nashville, too. Maybe it’s because despite our differences in backgrounds, there are so many similarities to each of us along the way. The vulnerability he shows is raw and special. A rare book that I want to reread I Take My Coffee Black is a beautiful blend of comedy and truth with a splash of history. I was surprised how much it made me feel. I never tear up reading a book, but this one… Tyler does what he sets out to accomplish- he works his way into your heart. Maybe it’s because I live in Nashville, too. Maybe it’s because despite our differences in backgrounds, there are so many similarities to each of us along the way. The vulnerability he shows is raw and special. A rare book that I want to reread as soon as I put it down.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Literally, there aren’t enough stars for this book. I just finished it and now I need time to digest and fully embrace all of the gifts, challenges and lessons within. Tyler does an outstanding job of bringing readers into proximity and connecting on some extremely hard topics. This is arguably one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. I will recommend it to everyone of every age. Thank you Tyler.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Summer Nettleman

    I listened to this on audio and I don’t think it would hit the same way in print. Part of what makes it so powerful is hearing the true vulnerability in his voice, and the earnestness of his heart when he’s stabbing it and then handing it to you to hold while he finishes whatever story he’s included in that particular chapter. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of him prior to his relationship with Jen Hatmaker and was immediately curious about what man could stand up. So many times I said out loud I listened to this on audio and I don’t think it would hit the same way in print. Part of what makes it so powerful is hearing the true vulnerability in his voice, and the earnestness of his heart when he’s stabbing it and then handing it to you to hold while he finishes whatever story he’s included in that particular chapter. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of him prior to his relationship with Jen Hatmaker and was immediately curious about what man could stand up. So many times I said out loud “Oh! Yeah, I get it now. Something I imagine she would say too”. It’s more than that though. It’s a story of a man and how we can all be better to ourselves and to each other. He just happens to have some pretty cool friends to fangirl over.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ilana Grenda

    I’ve followed the author through The Tyler Merritt Project for several years, ever since the first time his video “Before You Call The Cops” went viral. Nothing could prepare me for the greatness that is this book. My experiences growing up were different from Tyler’s. I am a white women who grew up in the Midwest. I have zero idea of what it’s like to walk in his shoes and to have to wonder every time I leave the house if there is a chance I won’t get to come home because of my skin color. Just as I’ve followed the author through The Tyler Merritt Project for several years, ever since the first time his video “Before You Call The Cops” went viral. Nothing could prepare me for the greatness that is this book. My experiences growing up were different from Tyler’s. I am a white women who grew up in the Midwest. I have zero idea of what it’s like to walk in his shoes and to have to wonder every time I leave the house if there is a chance I won’t get to come home because of my skin color. Just as importantly as what differences we had growing up, I found a cohort in this Generation X musical theater-Alanis Morissette-New Edition-Bon Jovi loving, junior high-banana hating thespian. I found someone that I can guarantee I would have been friends with in high school. The theme of Tyler’s book stresses proximity breeding empathy. And let me tell you that he allows you about as much proximity as he can without being physically in the same room sitting next to him. While style disarms you with his self assurance, charm and humor, he then painstakingly walks you through some of the most vulnerable times in his life and how those experiences impacted him. By the end of the book you will feel like you want to call him up and tell him all the feelings you had when he painstakingly detailed America’s history with racism. You will want to have lengthy conversations about which Broadway musicals are the best and which 80s cassettes and 90s CD’s you wore out. His book opens up a much needed dialogue about not only the history of racism in America but how we as a society are so much more than that. We have so much more in common with each other than we realize if we just took a moment to sit down and have a cup of coffee with someone and listen to their story. You will laugh, and cry and be angry throughout so much of this book. But mostly it will leave you with such hope in society. And, an unending appreciation that Tyler Merritt exists in this world.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I couldn't put this down. Tyler's honesty combined with amazing humor made you feel like you were sitting having a conversation with him. This is a must read for all my white friends. He's right, we need more proximity. When you look past the melanin, or lack thereof, you see the beauty of every human. Keep doing what you're doing Tyler, people like you are going to fix this screwed up world!!! I couldn't put this down. Tyler's honesty combined with amazing humor made you feel like you were sitting having a conversation with him. This is a must read for all my white friends. He's right, we need more proximity. When you look past the melanin, or lack thereof, you see the beauty of every human. Keep doing what you're doing Tyler, people like you are going to fix this screwed up world!!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leslie McKee

    I'd never heard of Tyler Merritt prior to reading this book. I have also never seen the viral video referenced in the book. I read a hardcover copy of the book, but I'd love to listen to the audio version at some point, as I can only imagine how much more impactful the book would be hearing it from Tyler himself. As a short white woman, I can't begin to imagine many of the things Merritt has experienced in his life, including being judged solely on his appearance, namely the color of his skin, wi I'd never heard of Tyler Merritt prior to reading this book. I have also never seen the viral video referenced in the book. I read a hardcover copy of the book, but I'd love to listen to the audio version at some point, as I can only imagine how much more impactful the book would be hearing it from Tyler himself. As a short white woman, I can't begin to imagine many of the things Merritt has experienced in his life, including being judged solely on his appearance, namely the color of his skin, without someone having spoken a word to him. In that way, this book was quite eye opening. However, I could relate to his love of Bon Jovi! This book shows the reader that people, in general, have far more in common than we ever realize. This book is unlike any other book I've ever read. It's a mix of the author's life experiences, a mix of joy and struggles. He includes a number of historical details I was unfamiliar with, and I appreciated that. Merritt is very transparent in sharing his story, and there were numerous places where he had me in tears (and some were from laughing). Reading this book was like sitting and having a personal conversation with Tyler. This is an emotional, and important, read. Some of my favorite quotes: - "Distance breeds suspicion. But proximity breeds empathy." - “Proximity to people who are different from ourselves can be a cure for racism.” Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I wasn't required to leave a positive review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Corrie Haffly

    “Proximity breeds empathy. And with empathy, humanity has a fighting chance.” Many of you may have seen Tyler’s viral video, “Before You Call the Cops,” when it first came out in 2018, or like me, when it went viral the second time in 2020. To me, this quote perfectly captures Tyler’s heart for why he wrote this book — to share his story, his joys, his sorrows, his mistakes, his triumphs — because “I was thinking that maybe if you got to know me, you wouldn’t be frightened. Or better yet, maybe “Proximity breeds empathy. And with empathy, humanity has a fighting chance.” Many of you may have seen Tyler’s viral video, “Before You Call the Cops,” when it first came out in 2018, or like me, when it went viral the second time in 2020. To me, this quote perfectly captures Tyler’s heart for why he wrote this book — to share his story, his joys, his sorrows, his mistakes, his triumphs — because “I was thinking that maybe if you got to know me, you wouldn’t be frightened. Or better yet, maybe you’d see that we have more in common than you thought. Or better yet, at the end of this book, you would think to yourself, ‘Man, that Tyler Merritt. We could kick it. For real.’ Or at the very least, the next time a six-foot-two black man comes near, you might think to yourself: ‘Maybe he’s listening to Bring It On: The Musical’” (instead of slamming the locks down in your car or crossing to the other side of the street). While sharing his mostly hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, always authentic stories, Tyler also gives us context and background about sharecropping, lynching, and other topics that help to illuminate the problems of racism in America. I deeply appreciated his vulnerability in laying out his mistakes and flaws; his bravery and honesty was touching and inspiring. And I also can’t count how many times I LLOLed (literally laughed out loud) while reading; I may have just slightly annoyed my husband when he tried to read his own book next to me, although he laughed out loud, too, when I would read him choice bits. Side note for those who care - Tyler sprinkles some salty language occasionally, but if that typically bothers you, I think this book is still so worth the read: Tyler is a Jesus-lover, a people-lover, a Miss Saigon-lover, and I hope that you come to love him as much as I have through the pages of his book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Merritt

    We may share the same last name, but we live worlds apart. I found Tyler in 2020 on Facebook and reposted his “Before You Call the Cops” video as the world continued to unravel. I was thankful that I found his account amongst all the turmoil we were/are living through. If you want a dose of sunshine (and some truth talking) I highly recommend that you follow him. He has one of the biggest hearts I’ve seen on social media. And after reading his book, I know he has one of the biggest hearts. His boo We may share the same last name, but we live worlds apart. I found Tyler in 2020 on Facebook and reposted his “Before You Call the Cops” video as the world continued to unravel. I was thankful that I found his account amongst all the turmoil we were/are living through. If you want a dose of sunshine (and some truth talking) I highly recommend that you follow him. He has one of the biggest hearts I’ve seen on social media. And after reading his book, I know he has one of the biggest hearts. His book is eye-opening, gut-wrenching, funny, inspiring, and real. When I finally got my copy, I couldn’t read it fast enough. I’ve also dogeared dozens of pages to reread. The bottom of page 249 gutted me. (Many pages gutted me.) To say that I laughed and cried my way through this book would be an understatement. I love that he’s a musical theatre brat like me. I love that he talks in movie/TV-speak like me and my girls do. That he’s always looking to do the right thing even when he doesn’t want to. That he’s a flawed loveable human, just like the rest of us. And I would most definitely like to have coffee with this man. Scratch that. I’d like to have dinner and talk long into the night. We’ll have decaf afterwards. Do yourself a favor and read this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    GET THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF THIS, you will be glad you did. This is an interesting book written and performed by the author, who is interesting to the thousandth power. He tells his story with humor, and insight - eventually - and anger and disappointment. What I like best about the author is his unflinching belief that honesty and connection are integral in our lives. Even when he has significant issues with honesty that impair his ability to connect, he understands the need for these in the wo GET THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF THIS, you will be glad you did. This is an interesting book written and performed by the author, who is interesting to the thousandth power. He tells his story with humor, and insight - eventually - and anger and disappointment. What I like best about the author is his unflinching belief that honesty and connection are integral in our lives. Even when he has significant issues with honesty that impair his ability to connect, he understands the need for these in the world at large. It's when it comes to investigating his own life that his biggest failures occur, notwithstanding the ever present racism that assaults him daily in one form or another. In favor of the audiobook, let me add these inducements: small passages are read by his parents, his friend James Monroe Inglehart, and the intro is by Jimmy Kimmel. And when you get to the section where he read the list of unarmed black people killed by police over a 4- 5 year period, it seems heartbreakingly to go on forever. I was unfamiliar with Mr Merritt prior to reading the book, and I am happy to have made his acquaintance via this medium. He's for real.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Donna Bijas

    Absolutely one of the best autobiographies I have read. Mr. Merritt is a tall dark Black man who, while consistently stereotyped, manages to lead an incredible uplifting life that he passes on to young people of color. His video “Before You Call The Cops” is absolutely perfect in terms of eliminating violence by police officers against Black people. His life, ambitions and community service are outstanding and amazing. Hoping more white people will give this one a try.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I read this book because I saw it on my parents kitchen counter. My 82 year old white father had checked it out from the library. My father has dementia and I’m sure has never heard of Tupac. I’m so happy he chose this book. He read it and loved it, I read it and loved it, now I’m giving it to my mom and recommending it to my book club. Everyone needs to read this. Tyler Merritt is an author who makes you want to hang out with him. I read that he’s recovering from a cancer scare. I hope he conti I read this book because I saw it on my parents kitchen counter. My 82 year old white father had checked it out from the library. My father has dementia and I’m sure has never heard of Tupac. I’m so happy he chose this book. He read it and loved it, I read it and loved it, now I’m giving it to my mom and recommending it to my book club. Everyone needs to read this. Tyler Merritt is an author who makes you want to hang out with him. I read that he’s recovering from a cancer scare. I hope he continues to have good health and write more books and change the world.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brandie Ballard

    I could not put this down! Tyler is so authentic! Being an Air Force brat from Vegas, I loved hearing about Tyler’s experiences growing up in Las Vegas. I loved hearing his “sliding door” moments and how they shaped his life. Hearing his experiences as a black man, made me take pause and realize my own privileges. Read this!!!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sam Rock

    As a 6'2" dreadlocked Black man, Tyler Merritt knows how to write a relatable, hilarious, inspiring book, and I say that as a 5'7" tattooed white woman. His story has something for everyone, truly. Even if you don't know Counting Crow's hits or have never heard a number from Miss Saigon - this book is for you. Even if you fear bursting into flames every time you find yourself having to frequent a church or are whiter than a white teen talking back to her mom for not having enough extra caramel o As a 6'2" dreadlocked Black man, Tyler Merritt knows how to write a relatable, hilarious, inspiring book, and I say that as a 5'7" tattooed white woman. His story has something for everyone, truly. Even if you don't know Counting Crow's hits or have never heard a number from Miss Saigon - this book is for you. Even if you fear bursting into flames every time you find yourself having to frequent a church or are whiter than a white teen talking back to her mom for not having enough extra caramel on her PSL - this book is for you. Honestly, I was briefly concerned about the religious talk as someone who is deeply NON-religious, but Tyler shared every bit of himself - and big pieces are his faith - without being the least bit preachy. I absolutely loved how American History was woven throughout the book as needed. The lessons were succinct, impactful and flowed perfectly with the larger story so that you forgot you were actually *learning* beyond Tyler's narrative. This is easily in my Top 10 favorite books of 2021 (and this is book 70 for the year so far), maybe Top 10 favorites... ever. I am grateful that Tyler Merritt was willing to be so vulnerable and share his story with the world. He's right - proximity DOES breed empathy. This book is a great place for so many people to begin very important conversations that can help build bridges of understanding. Note- I received an advanced digital copy of this book. These opinions are my own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Debbie J

    Tyler describes himself as a 6’2” dreadlocked black man. As a 5’1” white woman with super-short hair, my life experiences have been significantly different than his. We also have a number of things in common, and some of them might surprise you. Tyler and I wholeheartedly agree that: Betty White is a national treasure. The film Dirty Dancing is a cinematic masterpiece. Spiders are evil. Having people judge you based on what they don’t know about you is painful. And being seen for who you are is o Tyler describes himself as a 6’2” dreadlocked black man. As a 5’1” white woman with super-short hair, my life experiences have been significantly different than his. We also have a number of things in common, and some of them might surprise you. Tyler and I wholeheartedly agree that: Betty White is a national treasure. The film Dirty Dancing is a cinematic masterpiece. Spiders are evil. Having people judge you based on what they don’t know about you is painful. And being seen for who you are is one of the best feelings in the world. But it’s not always comfortable to let people see who you really are a world where there’s so much pressure to live a life that’s Instagram-worthy. It’s much easier to keep a safe distance… Distance breeds suspicion. In his book, Tyler gets REAL in an effort to close this distance, giving us the opportunity to see him both at his best and at some of his darker moments. All of us have both, and can easily connect with Tyler as he shares his stories… Because proximity breeds empathy. We find ourselves in a time that seems focused on the things that make us different and encouraging us to distance ourselves from those who aren’t like us. And many of us are struggling to be authentic in a world that makes it scary to do so. Tyler offers a solution, and it’s an easy one: be real and get to know people who are different than you. And he shows us how to do it with the personal stories he shares. Showing us that it’s not only possible for one person to make a difference, but it’s something each of us can do. It gives me hope for a future in which we can celebrate the unique things that make us different and empowers me to be a part of making that happen. You’ll have a hard time putting this book down after you pick it up. You’ll laugh, cry and even learn some history along the way as Tyler shares his journey. And you’ll see the importance of connecting through the things we have in common to develop empathy for those things that make us different. Tyler says that if you met his mama, you’d instantly be a better person…I’m pretty sure I’m a better person for having read his story, and I think you will be, too.

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