Why Do My Friends Insist On Calling Me Their ‘Black Best Friend’?

Shutterstock / View Apart
Shutterstock / View Apart

I am black. That is no rare case. I was diagnosed with being black from the time that I was born. That’s how they said it too, they told my mother, “We’re afraid your child is black.” So obviously, she couldn’t keep me and decided to send me down a river, where little to her knowledge, I grew up to lead thousands of slaves out of the hands of the Egyptians. This is in no way accurate, but as far as my social circles are concerned, sometimes it might as well be. There’s something I’ve noticed in the social situations I’ve been placed in where I am treated somewhat like a commodity, namely with the use of the term “black” as an unnecessary modifier.

I live in Utah, The Promised Land That Was The Only Land Not Yet Promised. Ninety-one percent of the population in Utah is white, so naturally, most of my friends are inevitably as well. Now, before people feel all kinds of uncomfortable that there’s an angry black guy causing trouble, be aware that this is not yet another criticism on white people (I mean, you guys give everyone else a lot to complain about, but still); many of my other-raced friends have been known to do this. I’m talking about unnecessarily throwing “black” into sentences. Let me give you some examples:

  • “You’re the funniest black person I know.”
  • “You’re my favorite black person!”
  • “You’re my best black friend!”

Do you see the problem? Those sentences would have been 100% fine without pointing out to me that I am black. Listen to me, are you listening? Why did we have to bring race into it? It might be true, sure, but it is disturbing that many feel the need to categorize people. It often gives me a “You are not one of us!” feeling. As that is technically true, I don’t think we necessarily need to act like I’m some kind of magician. I know that we are different, and we should recognize and accept those differences, while knowing that those differences don’t make us more or less than people. You can just say, I’m your best friend, and you know what, if I’m not your best friend, don’t say anything. It’s fine for us to be friends and for you to recognize that you like me without having race be apart of it. The whole “us and them” attitude is unnecessary in this modern age. There are racial differences and there will always be racial differences, but you don’t need to have a mindset that says, “Oooh honey, look, black people! Look at that flock of black people! I bet they’re the blackest blacks we’ve seen all month!”

Basically, it’s just somewhat demeaning to use my race in that way. I would never say “You’re my favorite white friend” or “You’re the best Jewish person I know.” I don’t think anyone who says this are racist, I don’t even think they’re aware it’s something that’s kind of insulting. Don’t misconstrue this and think I’m being hypersensitive about race (maybe I am, you can decide, I guess). Most, if not all the time, I let it go. I don’t at all want my race to be ignored, I would just rather be your friend than your black friend. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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