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Dear White People: Stop Making Your "Black Friends" Uncomfortable

No, seriously, cut it TF out.

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It's the year of our Lord 2017. I'm only saying that because, by now, there are some things people should just know.

  1. Don't wear brown shoes with a black suit.
  2. Don't fake orgasms for men and have them out here thinking they're doing something.
  3. Don't wear white pants when you even think you might get your period unless you just want to tempt fate and bring it right on down, and;
  4. White People: DON'T LET YOUR N-WORDS FLY, EVER. I don't care if it's in the lyrics, I don't care if your black friends have never scolded you or dealt out appropriate and well-deserved open-handed slaps and uppercuts. Don't. Do. It.
I'm tired of having to rehash this. It should be well understood, but I recently had an epiphanous moment and want to talk about it. At my part-time retail job, I closed the store with a manager I'm never truly enthusiastic about working with closely. She's over-eager and takes the job way too seriously. If I spoke to a customer and left them alone, purposefully, she'd always find a way to weigh on them in a manner that just seemed overzealous and unnecessary. Things like that bother me. On this night, as I locked the door, she asked me if I minded whether or not she play her own music while she counted down the registers. "What music do you like," she asked me? "I listen to everything," I replied. I'm not exaggerating, I do, and she jokingly asked whether or not heavy metal would be appropriate.

*Joke's on you, I like 80's Hair Bands*

However, rock wasn't what I was in the mood for, and we settled on Drake. She's the kind of white girl that utters phrases like "turn up," when she means "that's what's up," "hi," "Okie dokie," or "I have a wedgie." Ok, I'm joking with that last one, but she seriously peppers her speech with AAVE. When she let the name "Drake" out, I just knew we were headed for an incident and I waited for it, asking myself how I was going to handle it.

We trudged along and I waited as she took forever to incorrectly count down the damn registers, listening to assorted selections from a Pandora Drake. One, two, three songs in and no n-bombs have been dropped on my Pearl Harbor, until "Started From The Bottom."

"No new friends, nigga, we don't feel that..."

Perhaps, I heard her wrong. I was, in fact, singing along and perhaps my voice echoed like angels off of the walls. I dismissed it. "She can't be that stupid." I thought to myself. What I knew, for sure, was that we weren't listening to censored versions and I became more vigilant, waiting for when I knew I'd need to speak up for the culture. And then, "The Motto."

It took but one time to hear, "real nigga wassup," before I whipped my neck and cracked my black. "The hell you just say? Did you just say nigga?" She looked like a deer in headlights. Let's be clear here. She did not think I'd say anything at all and here's how I know. She didn't repeat herself. "It was in the lyrics..." she began before trailing off. "I don't care if it's in the lyrics, don't say it. Period." She then doubled down on the BS, "Well, literally none of my friends have said anything to me when we've all been together." And that was the moment I felt my blood get hot. I said, "Well, your friends aren't doing you any favors, but I'm not one of your [little] friends. Lil Wayne can say it, you can't. Lil Wayne is black."

So this exchange had me on edge. I had confronted it, I dodged her white guilt and well-earned awkward feelings in the aftermath of being checked; I was a winner. Until the next night with one of my best friends in the car listening to NWA. I've heard her use the N-word before and I've never said anything so I just KNEW that, because she "grew up listening to NWA," and she's all like "FTP, FTP!" She'd feel entitled to speak every lyric uttered. And... boom. It made me sick. Who was more fragile? Me or my anxiety riddled white friend who might collapse after being scolded or turn it into a "Why can't I say it?" exchange the way she thoroughly pissed me off with a "I don't have White Privilege because I grew up poor" dismissal. That was right before she was able to use her white womanhood to intervene when police were called on me during a verbal altercation when a UPS worker refused to release my package to me after three days of calling. She can be thoroughly exhausting, and because of this, I bit my tongue, unwilling to rock my relationship. At what cost though?

This is the problem. On the one hand, my manager wasn't my friend and I said what I needed to say; but with my friend, there were many factors that affected my ability to speak up and perhaps, by not doing so, I robbed her of a much needed opportunity to use her filter...for once. I felt futile and I began to limit interaction. Yesterday, I did finally express my grievances to her and I hope that she will take that and improve. If not, our friendship will have reached its end. But I really want white people with "black friends," especially the white people that can actually count how many black people they associate with for cool purposes, to do is be better. Stop making your friends uncomfortable enough that they can't even tell you what's wrong with you being thoroughly problematic. That's why you're always so shocked when you get your jaw rocked by someone who isn't your friend. Someone should've rocked you long ago.

I never used to advocate for the "no one should use the word," tack but I'm almost there because they refuse to do right. It's ridiculous and I'm tired. I don't want to keep having to repeat myself. It's 2017; there are some things you should just know.

Stop making your black friends uncomfortable.


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