My Black Friend Can't Swim: Funny?

Plus: Is black culture a cause for shame? The results of a Race Manners-inspired Reddit Ask Me Anything.

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I think there's a lot of room for sorting out which stereotypes are harmless and which are funny and fine to joke about, but that would happen between individuals -- there's certainly no general rule about what's "horribly racist" and what's not. A good friendship that's characterized by mutual respect and has already weathered some serious conversations about race and differences (I think that's key) could certainly be somewhere where this could happen. The fact that you're asking on Reddit instead of feeling this out with your friend suggests to me that you might not yet have that type of friendship, but that doesn't mean it's not a possibility in the future.

The Root's staff writer, Jenée Desmond-Harris, covers the intersection of race with news, politics and culture. She wants to talk about the complicated ways in which ethnicity, color and identity arise in your personal life -- and provide perspective on the ethics and etiquette surrounding race in a changing America. Follow her on Twitter.

Need race-related advice? Send your questions to

Previously in Race Manners: "Are Weight Comments a Nonwhite Thing?"

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