1. “Can I touch your hair?”
You might as well just throw peanuts at us. This isn’t a petting zoo and (thankfully) we’re not in cages. Unless you’re in a hair salon and everyone’s touching everyone’s hair, just let it go. You’re not discovering a species.
2. “Do you play basketball?”
I love that you come from a world where every black man over six feet plays basketball. I love that you ask that within minutes of meeting me. I should walk up to every white guy and ask if he plays golf.
3. “I wish I had darker skin like yours!”
4. “What do YOU think about [insert popular black topic of the day]?”
Did I miss a Black People of America conference where I was nominated as one of the ambassadors? Let me check my email. Oh, damn. I do have one from Barack, hold on.
5. “You don’t like the Beatles??!”
Let it fucking go.
6. “So, you’re a democrat, right?”
This is the political discourse equivalent of “I’m not trying to be racist but..”
7. “As an African-American, do you..”
I’ve never been to Africa. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to make a trip there, but I’m so far removed from the “African” culture that it’s not even historically accurate anymore. We’ve been reluctant Americans since the slave ships. The “something-American” thing is just another way to linguistically identify non-whites as “others.”
8. “So, was your dad around, or..”
In too many conversations about family, this little tick will come up surprisingly often. Maybe you think you’re being preemptively understanding, but it sounds like you’re confirming a stereotype. In any case, to answer your question: no. He wasn’t. Dads are assholes.
9. “You can’t dance?”
Write a tragedy, Shakespeare. I don’t practice my shuck and jive at home in the mirror. As a black man, I reserve the right to be just as uncoordinated as anyone else.
10. “You’re so well-spoken.”
White people say this like they’re about to give you a medal for pronouncing your e’s and r’s.
11. “Hip hop degrades women.”
I love ridiculously over simplistic double standards as much as the next guy. People who say this also worship musicians like John Mayer, who talks about actual women in interviews as if they were all fun dog toys tossed to him during his idle time, and I just can’t be bothered.
12. “I hate ignorant people, man. I just don’t see color.”
I’m so happy you live in a world where you can decide race isn’t an issue. It’s really encouraging for us black folk that you can wake up in the morning and say, “You know what? I’m not feeling the whole skin color thing today!” Such a phrase usually comes in when people are talking about icky racism and it is the white privilege equivalent of, “LALALALA I’M NOT LISTENING!”
13. “No, but like which part of Africa are you from?”
There’s a 700+ page book and a six part series spanning 10 hours on how difficult this information is to find for us (whether or not you believe Alex Haley’s story was fact or historical fiction). Barring the lucky ones who have managed to trace their lineage back that far, the rest of us are stuck with a shrug punctuated, “Uhh..”
14. “My dad would be so mad if he knew we were hooking up.”
Tight. Good to know. Can’t wait to meet him.
15. “Is it true what they say about black guys..”
Uhh, actually, this question is totally okay with me.