Black Buck – Published 2021
“An unambitious twenty-two-year-old, Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother, who wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential as the valedictorian of Bronx Science. But Darren is content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building, hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, and eating his mother’s home-cooked meals. All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join an elite sales team on the thirty-sixth floor.
After enduring a “hell week” of training, Darren, the only Black person in the company, reimagines himself as “Buck,” a ruthless salesman unrecognizable to his friends and family. But when things turn tragic at home and Buck feels he’s hit rock bottom, he begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force, setting off a chain of events that forever changes the game.
Black Buck is a hilarious, razor-sharp skewering of America’s workforce; it is a propulsive, crackling debut that explores ambition and race, and makes way for a necessary new vision of the American dream.” – Goodreads
This is a satirical look at racism in the American workforce that’s written like a manual on how to succeed in sales. Keep in mind in satire things are going to seem unbelievable at times, and that’s okay, because the purpose is to expose a truth.
Darren works at a Starbucks and after pitching a new drink to a regular he finds himself being thrust into a start up company with high pressure, impossibly high expectations and ridiculous superiors. His new bosses are the worst kind of racists, the kind that want to tell you why their comments and actions aren’t racist. He is clearly chosen as the token minority, and is treated terribly continuously. Things get out of hand fast, and Darren does a complete turn around as a character, having lost himself in the corporate hustle and bustle for a while.
This book examines racism, privilege, classism, gentrification, microaggressions, greed, ambition, and more. I’m not sure I liked it, but only in the sense that the content is not really likable. It’s cleverly written, it accomplishes its goal of drawing attention to racism in the workplace, and it definitely holds your interest.