“When Karamo Brown first auditioned for the casting directors of Netflix’s Queer Eye, he knew he wouldn’t win the role of culture expert by discussing art and theater. Instead he decided to redefine what ‘culture’ could — and should — mean for the show. He took a risk and declared, ‘I am culture.’
Karamo believes that culture is so much more than art museums and the ballet — it’s how people feel about themselves and others, how they relate to the world around them, and how their shared labels, burdens, and experiences affect their daily lives in ways both subtle and profound. Seen through this lens, Karamo is culture: His family is Jamaican and Cuban; he was raised in the South in predominantly white neighborhoods and attended a HBCU (Historically Black College/University); he was trained as a social worker and psychotherapist; he overcame personal issues of colorism, physical and emotional abuse, alcohol and drug addiction, and public infamy; he is a proud and dedicated gay single father of two boys, one biological and one adopted. It is by discussing deep subjects like these, he feels, that the makeovers on the show can attain their full, lasting meaning. Styling your hair is important, but so is figuring out why you haven’t done so in 20 years!
In this eye-opening and moving memoir, Karamo reflects on his lifelong education. It comprises every adversity he has overcome, as well as the lessons he has learned along the way. It is only by exploring our difficulties and having the hard conversations—with ourselves and one another—that we are able to adjust our mind-sets, heal emotionally, and move forward to live our best lives. Karamo shows us the way.”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
If you have watched Queer Eye on Netflix then you already know Karamo as the life coach slash therapist who changes people’s lives through meaningful conversations, and who always makes everyone cry in the best way. If you haven’t watched Queer Eye yet, I highly suggest you do! It’s such an uplifting and fun show. As soon as I heard that Karamo had a memoir I knew I had to read it!
In this book, Karamo discusses the origins of his name and how he learned to embrace the uniqueness of it, as well as other defining moments of his early life such as dealing with colorism within the Black community, and his struggle with religion. He also talks about abuse within his family, though not in detail, and the difficult road he found himself on during and after college.
He discusses drug abuse and addiction and the moment when he realized he needed to stop and make serious changes to his life. I think the most profound moments of the book where the chapters about fatherhood and how he came to be a father. Queer Eye is only talked about briefly, but he manages to reveal a lot about the behind-the-scenes of the show; how he came to be cast on it, and what it was like filming the first season, before he really got into his groove as the show’s therapist.
My favorite quote was:
“The status quo can no longer be ‘us versus them.’ It should be ‘us versus injustice,’ ‘us versus hatred,’ ‘us versus bigotry.” We need to remove the lends that’s causing us to see the world in black and white. There is an emotional gray area that connects us all. I believe that we can and will get better as a community and as a nation.
There is a real way forward through empathetic listening. Empathetic listening is so important, because if all we do is talk, then we will never hear the other person. When we hear the other person, we come to realize that we all want joy and love, and to be free of fears and anxieties. We realize that the conflicts facing us internally and those facing us externally are more universal than we think. It’s when we support one another and respond to life’s conflicts with emotional awareness that we find growth and connection.”-from Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope
How powerful was that? The book was filled with inspiring and thought provoking quotes just like that, and I could so clearly hear Karamo’s voice in my mind as I was reading. This is a great book for anyone who is a fan of his, or enjoys uplifting memoirs.
Goodreads rating: Five stars