Shit you don’t say to your Black friend

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By Rosemary Akpan

Dear non-Black folks,

No matter how harmless or funny it may seem in your head, there are a few things you probably shouldn’t say to a Black person, especially one you consider to be your friend.

It doesn’t matter how close you two are, or if you’re also a (non-Black) person of colour, it will undoubtedly come off as offensive or ignorant. You probably feel like you already know what and what not to say. But just in case you needed a quick refresher, here are a few things you definitely shouldn’t say to your Black friend.  

1.“All lives matter”

All lives cannot matter until Black ones do. PERIOD.

2. “Can I touch your hair?”

There will never be a time when the answer is yes…unless there’s a bug in it. However, that is a very rare scenario so the answer will undoubtedly be NO.

3. The N-word

It doesn’t matter where you’re from, who you grew up with or how you heard it, there will never be a plausible reason for you to say it. This also goes for the kids reading Lord of the Flies out loud during high school English class.

4. “You look just like [insert famous Black celebrity]”

Stop. Nine times out of ten we don’t look anything like the person you’re about to compare us to.

5. “I don’t see colour”

Like Jackie Aina said, “If you don’t see colour, what do you do at a traffic light?” By not seeing colour you’re choosing to ignore the years and history of oppression Black people have faced and still face today. It’s important to see our colour in order to understand that even though it is different than yours, it’s still equal. So when ours is not being treated equally you’ll hopefully understand the discontent.

Although this is just a short list of things you shouldn’t say, let this act as a guide for any other random urges of offensive things you think are OK to say to your Black friend.

Sincerely,

Your Black friend

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