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A powerful exploration of Black achievement in a white world based on honest, provocative, and moving interviews with Black leaders, scientists, artists, activists, and champions.
“I remember the day I realized I couldn’t play a white guy as well as a white guy. It felt like a death sentence for my career.”
When Chad Sanders landed his first job in lily white Silicon Valley, he quickly concluded that to be successful at work meant playing a certain social game. Each meeting was drenched in white slang and the privileged talk of international travel or folk concerts in San Francisco, which led Chad to believe he needed to emulate whiteness to be successful. So Chad changed. He changed his wardrobe, his behavior, his speech—everything that connected him with his Black identity.
And while he finally felt included, he felt awful. So he decided to give up the charade. He reverted back to the methods he learned at the dinner table, or at the Black Baptist church where he’d been raised, or at the concrete basketball courts, barbershops, and summertime cookouts. And it paid off. Chad began to land more exciting projects. He earned the respect of his colleagues. Accounting for this turnaround, Chad believes, was something he calls Black Magic, namely resilience, creativity, and confidence forged in his experience navigating America as a Black man. Black Magic has emboldened his every step since, leading him to wonder: Was he alone in this discovery? Were there others who felt the same?
In moving essays, Chad dives into his formative experiences to see if they might offer the possibility of discovering or honing this skill. He tests his theory by interviewing Black leaders across industries to get their take on Black Magic. The result is a revelatory and very necessary book. Black Magic explores Black experiences in predominantly white environments and demonstrates the risks of self-betrayal and the value of being yourself.
About the Author
Chad Sanders is a writer, director, actor, and musician based in New York City. Previously, Chad worked at Google and YouTube and as a tech entrepreneur. He has since written and cowritten TV series and feature films with collaborators Spike Lee, Morgan Freeman, and Will Packer. Chad’s op-ed pieces have appeared in The New York Times, SLAM magazine, and Teen Vogue. Before living in New York, Chad lived in Berlin, London, Oakland, and Atlanta. Chad is a graduate of Morehouse College. He was born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland.
"Chad has the unique ability to turn his experiences and the experiences of others into a guidebook that will inspire many healthy discussions. This is Chad’s superpower.”
— Morgan Freeman, actor
“Daring, urgent and transformative. Not only did the stories and interviews in Black Magic forever change how I think about leadership and culture, they challenged me as a parent, friend and citizen. This book will be required reading in our organization.”
— Brené Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead
“I greatly enjoyed Black Magic. I found it to be, at once, pulverizing, educational, and inspirational in a way that feels accessible. You should read this book.”
— Shea Serrano, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Black Magic is the book we need urgently in this moment. Chad’s voice is clear, direct and honest. There is so much for us all to learn from the lives explored in this beautiful read.”
— —Angie Martinez, New York Times bestselling author, Grammy-nominated artist, and The Voice of New York
“Our world has never been more at peril, our country never more divided and the need for smart, unifying voices never more clear. Chad’s perspective is bold and unapologetic while simultaneously being inclusive and non-judgmental. An incredibly difficult balance that Black Magic achieves marvelously.”
— Will Packer, film and TV producer
“Black Magic is real. Chad Sanders takes us on a journey to unlock its secret with life stories that offer proof.”
— Tom Straw, Emmy-nominated TV producer and #1 New York Times bestselling author
“An astonishingly original book! Chad Sanders makes a compelling case for the magic to be found in leveraging your authentic self in a business world that emphasizes conformity.”
— Cal Newport, New York Times bestselling author of Digital Minimalism and Deep Work
“Chad’s analysis of Black achievement is compelling and inspiring. In times like these, we need this book. Every human should read it.”
— Pinky Cole, CEO and Founder of Slutty Vegan ATL
"Readers will be moved most by how Sanders and his interviewees don't shy away from the pain of the discrimination they’ve endured, instead transforming suffering into a source of assurance and hope. The overarching vision here is one of making room for Blackness in every sphere and ensuring that being Black is not a detraction but rather a strength."
— Booklist (Starred)
"This inspirational account offers useful lessons on how 'power can be derived from trauma and suffering.'"
— Publishers Weekly
“Thought-provoking and useful... Above all, “Black Magic” is an expression of an exciting and much-needed philosophy, and readers may be encouraged to mine gold from their own tough experiences.”
— Washington Post