Being the only black person in your class, school or job is not a death sentence. It might even be all smiles and rainbows with no worries or concerns and you will laugh at the memory of thinking you needed an article to help with this occurrence. Nevertheless, you want to be prepped in case you are surrounded by these individuals.
The First Encounter-er
How can you not ever have met a black person? That is the question you will ask when you meet The First Encounter-er. They will either be uber excited because holy fuck, you are black in real life and not on MTV or watchful because you are black like those movies on MTV and they are not sure if you are Boys in The Hood or Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins. When dealing with the First Encounter-er try to be patient. They may question you about every aspect of Black culture and ask you extensively about Africa. Most questions will begin or end with “is it true.” The First Encounter-er means no harm but they have been given an opportunity to finally ask those questions that have been bubbling in them for years. However, you could get a First Encounter-er who is not one side of two extremes but understands that you are the first black person they have ever met and moves on without making a big fuss.
“So Amber, is it true that all black people have been affected by the War on Drugs? I watched a documentary about it and it really moved me but I always wondered how you people really felt but never could ask. It’s so nice to finally have this chance.”
“Stacy, you are from Louisiana. You could have asked plenty of people.”
The Learner loves everything you do and wants to do everything you do. You roll your eyes and the Learner will feverishly ask how do you coordinate that eye and neck roll so well then demand you give a step-by-step tutorial. You will come to school and with kinky twists on Monday, an afro on Tuesday and box braids on Wednesday and the Learner will attend class everyday with a notepad, interviewing you on how you are able to do this wizardry and if it works for white hair. Take the Learner as a compliment. You could come to school looking a hot mess and the Learner will want to know how your style is so unique and how he or she can get on your level. The Learner will eventually find her own style or bite off of someone else with some ethnicity.
“Oh my God, I looove your hair. What is it? Can I touch? I’m going to touch it. How do you get so wild like that? Tell me all the steps.”
“It is a bantu knot out. Don’t touch my hair Susan. I watched a tutorial on YouTube that you can watch online too, for free.”
The Adapter changes his behavior for you but it’s usually not in a good way. Those random listens to rap music and scattered memories of old black movies will surface whenever the Adapter talks to you. The Adapter shift from formal English to ebonics is noticeable. For some strange reason, the Adapter does not believe you and he or she can connect with saying slang and attempting to Hit the Quan once. Think Quentin Tarantin during that interview at 106 and Park.
“Goodbye my dear friends and colleagues. I wish you a safe and prosperous journey to your living quarters where you shall dine like men and face the r-, oh what’s good fam. I did not see you there home skillet biscuit. Are you about to get in them streets bruh?”
“I am journeying to my living quarters where I shall dine like men, Brad.”
“Yas, do you cuzzo. Don’t get caught up with no thots though.”
“You majored in English. Stop it.”
The Person Who Asks You “What’s the Black Perspective”
The Person Who Asks You “What’s the Black Perspective” makes the horribly wrong assumption that black people all have the same ideology and that you went out confirmed this ideology in some way, shape or form. Maybe the Person Who Asks You “What’s the Black Perspective” thinks black people have secret meetings every week to make sure we all know what we like and do not like. You know, to keep morale up. This question can be reworded but the main focus is you speaking for the black community.
“How do black people feel about climate change?”
“I personally think it is a real and major issue that needs to addressed and not debated by nonscientific politicians.”
“You guys do not think alike.”
“No, I missed the meeting at the Underground Railroad where we discuss issues until we reach unanimous decisions about every issue in the world. The meetings are biweekly because we have to squeeze it into our work schedule too. It’s tough but how else will we think alike like drones.”
Discussing social issues and speaking on injustices is all well and fine but the Let-Me-Tell-You-What’s-Wrong-With-Black-Community Philosopher is not there to have back and forth. No, the Let-Me-Tell-You-What’s-Wrong-With-Black-Community Philosopher is only there to give you a one-size solution to all the problems that plague the black community. Where did he or she get these solutions? Scattered bits of news commentary and a sprinkle of statistics probably. Their solutions involve a perfect society with unmistakable equality and an endless availability to opportunity. There is an easy solution big problems like institutionalized racism that you simply could not grasp but this late night news watcher saw it all and boy is he or she going to drill you with theses theories.
“It’s the clothes. It has always been the clothes. You have to dress for what you want. You see rappers and these young boys falling along with these trends that make them look like gangbangers and thugs. They have to pull up their pants and dress better in order for them to stop being harassed by the police.”
“Was there a surge in police brutality for white males with hair long and black clothes when death metal was popular? No. If we all wore tailored suits tomorrow, we’d still be gangbangers and thugs, just well dressed gangbangers and thugs. It’s not clothes, it’s preconceived prejudice that’s the issue.”
“See no, I watched a segment and a black guy said “we as a people have to represent ourselves better.”
“Jesus could have said that and I still would not agree. Changing clothes is way easier than changing minds, Rachel.”
Backhanded Compliment Giver
“You are so pretty for a black girl.” “You speak very well for a black guy.” “You got into that school? Oh, it’s probably because of affirmative action.” “You’re black but not black, black.” Just back away slowly or try to make them see the error in their ways.
“You have really long hair to be black.”
“You are really ignorant to be a brunette. I thought you guys were smarter than that.”
“I can totally see how I was offensive now . I am sorry.”
The Low-key Racist
The Low-key Racist is the worst of all. The Low-key Racist is a friendly person, genuinely liked by counterparts and a great big ball of joy to everyone. Well, everyone with the same complexion. The Low-key Racist’s friendly persona is erased when he or she comes around you. There are no rainbows but only backhanded compliments and racist questions like “why are all you black boys so into that dope slagging business.” Calling out the Low-key Racist brings confusion and disbelief from peers because how could he or she be racist when they are so nice to everyone else. Though a true victim, you are made to seem crazy and overly sensitive, at best, or a liar, at worst. The Low-key Racist comes in all shapes and sizes and no one is immune to being the Low-key Racist. That bias towards a race is ingrained and their pleasant demeanor remains intact around others but what’s done in the dark will come to light.
“You are a hoot Steven.”
“You black people are not the only ones who can jive.”
“What the fuck Steven?”
“Whoa, calm down with the whole angry black woman thing you women do.”
“I heard that Steven, not nice.”
“I was kidding. I love the negroes.”
“What the fuck Steven?”