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Black People, Don’t Be A “Black Friend”

Lena Dunham and Donald Glover in "Girls"
Lena Dunham and Donald Glover in “Girls”
One of the most complicated things about being a black person with non black friends or a non black significant other will always be the shroud of anti blackness that underlies the relationships. There are those moments where we just don’t know what to do when we have anti black friends or an anti black significant other. You ask yourself “Do I want to call them racist? Do I want to call them out for disrespecting me as a black person and risk our relationship?” Almost a million things go through your mind about how you should handle things like that, and there are many ways to solve them, but please by all means don’t ever be the “black friend”

What is a black friend you ask? A black friend is someone who doesn’t put their non black friends in check. A black friend is someone who allows their white friend to say nigga and make racially disparaging jokes because “You’re cool to me!” A black friend allows non black people of color to appropriate black culture with the excuse “At least they aren’t white!” A black friend is not anyone’s friend at all actually. A black friend is just a hall pass for people who want to degrade and disrespect black people to do so without feeling guilty for doing it. Common synonyms used for black friend can be “Uncle Tom” (a classic black term meaning someone who is a sell out and allows themselves to be degraded and mistreated by white people) or “coon” (a racial slur that black people reclaimed to mean something entirely different than its original definition, coon can have varying meanings but all of them are similar to Uncle Tom) and just because black people use these terms to describe other black people doesn’t mean you as a non black person should ever follow suit.

You don’t have to necessarily be just friends with someone to be a “black friend” Black friends can evolve into black boyfriends, black girlfriends, black husbands, and black wives. Far too often we see people in relationships with someone who is anti black giving their significant other a pass for it out of love, but this isn’t love at all. If you truly love someone you will go out your way to educate them and correct them so that they don’t continue contributing to people’s oppression, and if they truly love you back they wouldn’t use you as an excuse to degrade you or your people. In essence, no interracial relationship will ever work out as long as you are the “My black girlfriend says I can say nigga” or the “My black husband doesn’t care that I degrade black women social media” You are never going to be the exception. If they dont like black people, and you are black, they don’t like you. Allowing yourself to be a fetish and a hall pass for ignorance is not what you deserve as a black person, you deserve someone who will love you enough to respect your blackness and see you as a human being, not a racism waiver.

In conclusion, I know how it feels to be in the black friend position. Years ago before I was any type of socially aware I had friends who used me as their “black friend” and I had boyfriends and girlfriends who used me as an excuse to be disgusting, and not only did I allow it but I fought against black people who called me out. It took me time to realize that you gain nothing from being a black friend. You gain nothing from handing out “black passes” and “you can come to the cookout”s because when worse comes to worse, you are black and those people are not, and if they have to step over you to remind you and the rest of the world your place in their eyes they will do it. My great grandmother didn’t march with Dr King for me to sit by and let one of my Asian friends call me a nigga, or let my white boyfriend use me to say racist jokes on social media because “My black boyfriend doesn’t get bothered by it.” Not only is it disrespectful to my family, my friends, and the entire history of my people, but I am disgracing myself and lowering my own self esteem by allowing myself to be treated like an exception. Nobody has to be the Lord Of The Drags. You don’t have to end every white & NBPOC’s entire life for saying or doing something racist because if that’s the case you are going to be stressed 24/7 (been there, done that) but you do have a responsibility as a black person to not allow yourself and your community to be subjected to being degraded by non black people. Should you keep anti black friends around? That is up to you and how patient and willing you are to educate them into unlearning anti blackness, but there will always come a point when enough is enough, and when you reach that point do not continue being friends, or in a romantic relationship with that person. Don’t be a tap dancing minstrel show. Don’t be hall pass for racism and cultural appropriation. Don’t underestimate your worth, and intelligence, and importance, and beauty as a black person. Don’t be a black friend.

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