1. If the lighting is bad, we might have to pass on being in a picture (because even if we’re in it, we might not be in it).
Sometimes in dimly lit settings we, your black friend, can only hope that poor lighting doesn’t compromise our being visible in the photo. Cameras on phones have certainly come a long way, because I can remember cringing anytime a Blackberry owner called for a photo op. Their 1.4 megapixels and weak flash that resembled a feeble nightlight fart left me playing Where’s Waldo, searching for myself in every picture. Yes, many cameras these days are capable, but Post-Traumatic Crappy Phone Camera disorder still lingers. We just don’t want to be a silhouette, or worse, camouflage right in with the shadows. If your black friend offers to take the photo instead of striking a pose in it, don’t put up a fight as they’re probably uncomfortable with the lack of illumination.
2. Sweat shows up.
If sweat dries up on our skin, often times it’ll leave visible salt residue and make us look like we just left a construction site or bakery after a hard day’s work. This is why I, and perhaps some others exit hastily immediately after working out. Think of it like Cinderella’s dash to get home before midnight. If you see drying sweat happening on a friend’s face, be a pal and let them know just as you would treat spotting something in their teeth or nose.
3. Limited Halloween costume options.
Unless you’re okay defying the norms to be a black-Batman or African-Amarilyn Monroe, there’s slim pickens as far as recognizable black pop culture characters go. I’m all for breaking molds and bad, which is why I’m considering attempting a black Walter White next Halloween.
4. The cold weather dries out our skin.
It’s difficult not to get ashy when it’s cold. I don’t know the scientific explanation, but 50 degrees renders even the highest quality Jergens useless. It basically takes constantly applying excessive amounts of lotion to stay smooth, so that should explain why some folks might slip up occasionally and have elbows that appear to have been dipped in baby powder.
5. We have the most delicious stereotypes.
It’s been addressed before, but I’ll reiterate the fact that things like fried chicken, Kool-Aid, watermelon and grape soda are treats enjoyed by some members of all races alike. Unfortunately, by labeling these things as predominantly black food and drink, it can sometimes be uncomfortable to consume these things in front of others. I mean really there shouldn’t be any shame in grubbing on a bucket-o-chicken, but when you know that your dinner is a cliché it can make you hesitant to order. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve noticed McDonalds seems to use a lot of black folks on commercials advertising chicken products, which I find a little suspect in enforcing these stereotypes. Then again, I also laugh a little less at the KFC “I ATE THE BONES!” commercial with the black dude, than the one with a white guy.
6. Black people who overplay the race card make the black folks living in reality look bad.
Yes, there are instances where racism rears its ugly head, but not every non-black person is out to get us in this day and age. Things aren’t perfect, but if you’ve got opportunities it’s more about grinding relentlessly than searching for skin tone related excuses in every setback. By complaining instead of soldering on, there’s been a boy-who-cried-wolf effect in which people call racism constantly when it isn’t the case, potentially ruining it for scenarios where that actually is the problem.
7. Sports performance expectations are higher.
This is a blessing and a curse because initially you’re almost always going to get picked to play on a team, especially if it’s basketball. The downside? When it’s time for the actual execution of movements that require coordination, skill and athleticism, you realize that they were really banking on your non-existent abilities. The Office portrayed this notion perfectly:
I remember moving to a new school in 8th grade and being chosen to play basketball during our lunch break. Now, this was years before I really started playing seriously, needless to say there was a level of surprise when my peers saw a clumsy, ungraceful moving black kid who wasn’t capable of dribbling, shooting or doing anything that’s valued in the sport of basketball. I think this even translates to recreational activities because I’ve seen people shocked by how mediocre I am at pool and darts as well. At times it seems as if some people just expect blacks to be good at everything — thanks, LeBron.