30 Things Not To Say To Your Only Black Friend

Yep, like many others I am many a person’s only black friend, first “exotic” sexual experience, and justification for writing a lengthy racist Facebook status.
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Courtney Brunson
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Yep, like many others I am many a person’s only black friend, first “exotic” sexual experience, and justification for writing a lengthy racist Facebook status.

Recently a friend texted me out of the blue, “What do you think about the Confederate flag?”

Girl. There were not enough deep breaths in the world to center my spirit and put me in the mood to discuss slaves in the middle of the afternoon, yet there I was. I hadn’t even had coffee. With a quick prayer for strength I quickly typed, “Guess…” before slipping my phone back into my purse.

If you live on this Earth and communicate with humans, at some point in your life you have overheard someone confidently explain, “I’m not racist because my best friend is black”. Right? Well, I’m that black friend.

Yep, like many others I am many a person’s only black friend, first “exotic” sexual experience, and justification for writing a lengthy racist Facebook status. What’s better is that I’m mixed race, so I’m the recipient of an even broader spectrum of fun questions and awkward, unsolicited comments that make me sigh while question marks circle my head.

Practicing my fake smile.

Practicing my fake smile.

Despite swimming through the deep seas of institutional racism, daily media coverage of police brutality, and subtle micro-aggressions, black people do not think about being black all the time. Really. We don’t walk down the street guided by an internal monologue of “I’M BLACK I’M BLACK I’M BLACK I’M BLACK!!!!!!!!” on a loop while humming Nina Simone.

Clearly it doesn’t matter though, because my friends and acquaintances still want me to watch them struggle to twerk for no reason, or explain how weaves work.

To clarify, I’m not throwing shade at just white people because trust me, people of all races say weird shit to black people. I have to laugh about it, because if I didn’t I would never leave my house. If you’re a fellow token black/mixed friend, the following thirty questions and statements will be no stranger to you. If on the other hand you’ve uttered any of the following lines I’m begging, no… PLEADING with y’all to please not. Please don’t do this anymore. Thank you. Pass it on.

1. Where are you from? No, like where are you from…

New Jersey. I’m really from New Jersey.

2. I’ve always wanted to hook up with a black guy.

You sound like a poacher.

3. Oh my god you look just like Beyoncé!

Try not to name the first brown celebrity you can think of. The comparison is not a compliment; you just seem like you literally can’t tell us apart.

4. I’m not racist because my best friend growing up / ex-boyfriend was black.

That’s not how racism works. Imagine Michael Vick saying, “I don’t hate dogs because my mom had a dog.”

5. I would love to volunteer in Africa. The experience would be inspirational.

You do realize that Africa is a CONTINENT with developed metropolitan cities, right? Also, exploiting communities that are disadvantaged for a humble-brag Instagram post is not cool.

6. Can I touch your hair?

No, do I look like a zoo animal?

7. What are you?

APPARENTLY A ZOO ANIMAL.

8. But you’re not “black” black.

Ooooh, so basically you’re confused that I don’t act like a character on The Wire.

9. Yeah, but what are you the “most” of?

Code for “but exactly how black are you”? My mixed brethren are no stranger to the one-drop rule.

10. You’re so eloquent!

And this is worth noting, why? Hmm? :---)))

11. Can you do the Nae Nae?

There are no Official Black People Meetings where we congregate to practice choreography and develop new trends. Go on Vine like everyone else.

12. Teach me how to dougie! Hahahaha!

Great, now I can never listen to that song again. #corny

13. Can you braid hair?

Yes, but that’s not the point. Again, you’re basically saying, “Can you do black people stuff?”

14. *Locks car door*

I saw that.

15. I don’t see color. It doesn’t matter if someone is black, white, yellow, purple, or green…

Yes, you do, unless you have impaired vision and actually think there are green people. (In which case, I’m worried about you). Feigning colorblindness is ignoring racism.

16. What do you think about *insert hot topic race issue*?

Have you ever seen me hold a press conference? No. I am not an ambassador for my race, and definitely do not want to discuss an emotionally charged topic with a stranger in the afternoon. That’s like asking someone Jewish, “So… the Holocaust, huh?”

17. Kendrick Lamar is a genius.

He’s just a not-terrible rapper within a genre of even better rappers. Watch Desus and Mero slaughter Kendrick’s “i” video at the 15:30 mark to become enlightened.

18. What are collard greens?

The lettuce of my forefathers.

19. My hair is so nappy.

*Takes a deep breath*

20. Can you come to school with an afro?

One, I relax my hair. Two, if someone does not already wear a natural hairstyle, do not turn the act into a dare or spectacle. Do we have to go over the zoo animal thing again?

21. Yeah, I voted for Obama.

That’s great. My dad voted for Bill Clinton.

22. Your neighborhood is scary…

This has been said to me countless times by friends visiting my apartment, which is located in a historically black neighborhood. No, the area is not scary. You just aren’t used to seeing that many black people together on one block.

23. So where in Africa is your family from?

PLEASE WITH THIS. WE’RE FROM NEW JERSEY.

24. I bet you love Empire.

Yeah, I do. It’s a really great show.

25. Are you Kwanzaan?

Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday.

26. 12 Years a Slave made me cry.

Years ago my dad and I were the only black people in a movie theatre audience while the trailer for Django Unchained played. A few people craned their necks to look over at us, and my dad was like, “Awkwaarrdd!” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

27. I’m so tan I’m basically black.

It would take a little bit more than that. However it’s hard to ignore that people love big lips, tan skin, and jiggly butts while still sustaining a deeply rooted disdain for the people that naturally possess them…

28. Do you play basketball?

No, I’m terrible at all sports. Why do you ask?

29. I don’t want to sound racist but…

*Usually followed by something super racist*

30. You’re like my whitest black friend.

Okay, bye.

If any of the above phrases have left your lips, consider this an opportunity to be cleansed of your sins and start anew.

Commenters, did I miss anything? Has anyone asked to touch your hair today?

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