Over the years, there is one observation I’ve made about black people in various social situations. Amongst fellow black people, we don’t feel the need to explain ourselves; we just ‘get’ each other, even if we’re from different cultural backgrounds. When you’re a black person amongst white people though, there seem to be a million bajillion things you have to explain about yourself and your life.
And most of the time, black people don’t bother explaining because it’s too much of an effort.
In the interests of promoting social understanding and togetherness, here’s a list of things that white people need to know about black people. Very importantly, not all black people are the same, so not all of these will apply equally. Lovely friends, here are 16 things that black people need to explain to their white friends:
1 ‘Bring and share’ parties are a white people thing.
If you’re going to organise a party then you should cater for it, it’s a basic principle of hospitality. The idea that I must cater for a party that you are hosting is completely foreign to me. Alas, because it’s your party, I will go with the flow and bring a pack of Doritos, the ones in a blue packet.
2 Underwear must be washed by hand, every day.
When you walk into my bathroom you will almost definitely find a few lacy numbers hanging on the rail. Don’t be alarmed. I was taught to wash my undies straight after a bath, you were taught to throw them in your laundry basket (it’s gross but I still love you).
3 Closed guest lists don’t mean a thang to us, if I hear about it, I’m there.
Birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries and funerals are free for all. Relatives, friends, enemies, neighbours, people passing by are all welcome! It’s not weird at all when there are random strangers appearing in our wedding videos, it is part of the territory. A closed guest list is a sure way to offend a black person.
4 The words “gap year” don’t exist in our vocabulary.
There is no scenario where the words “gap year” can feature positively in a conversation between a black person and their mother, father or relatives. Telling your parents that you’re doing a gap year is telling them that you want to be unemployed for the rest of your life, period.
5 Hair is a political issue.
White friend, I know you’ve never had to debate the question of natural hair versus relaxed hair with your white friends. You probably didn’t know the difference. The hair debate isn’t just a silly thing to us, it’s a serious issue. Just Google ‘black hair blogs’ and watch Good Hair.
6 Don’t look surprised, disappointed or whisper behind your hand when black people pile their plates high.
Piling your plate high at an event is not gluttony, it’s wholly appropriate if the food is in abundance. We’re not being rude, we’re just being ourselves. Also, don’t laugh when we talk about taking leftovers home for breakfast tomorrow, we’re being serious.
7 Black people don’t do cats.
Don’t ask them why because they’ll look at you cross-eyed. We’re okay with you having pet cats but please, please do not expect us to cuddle, kiss or love them. In fact, black people don’t really do pets at all, dogs belong outside and are there as a matter of necessity, there’s no love lost between me and Spotty.