We might all know that America has a dark and sordid past chock full of racial tension, but few of us relish opening up that chapter of American history and really examining it. There is a lot of pain in that part of the story, but Black Boy makes us open up and acknowledge those issues and experiences, which is uncomfortable.
Even though the United States is called a post-racial society, we have to be aware that many, many people are still dealing with the repercussions of racism. White students may not be able to understand the seemingly natural connection for African-Americans between Richard Wright's experience and the Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin trial. They may not see Richard Wright's mother as loving and caring, but as a harsh, and at times, abusive parent. Black students may feel vulnerable at having the black experience front and center, splayed open for all to see. And if you are a white teacher, you may have black students look at you as if you've lost your mind because you're trying to teach about the black experience—and you likely feel pretty uncomfortable taking the lead on this topic yourself.