Dear White People: Here's 10 Ways To Tell If A Black Person Actually Likes You


While checking VSB's analytics earlier this week, I came across some demographic information that informed me we have a larger White readership than I assumed. I knew we had a good percentage, but the actual number has grown since I last checked.


This (obviously) means there are quite a few White people reading this right now. And to you, White people, welcome!

Now, if you are a White person voluntarily reading VSB, you might have some questions about Black people. I can't answer them all — even I don't know why every Black church pastor also is great at singing — but there are some I can. Namely, how you can tell if a Black person you happen to know actually likes, trusts, and respects you and isn't just hanging out with you for the free beer and stock portfolio tips.

There are numerous indicators. But for the sake of time and space, I'll just list 10.

1. You're invited to places, spaces, and events that will be mostly Black

It's a well-known fact that we (Black people) are generally more comfortable in mostly White spaces than you (White people) tend to be in mostly Black spaces. And this is largely due to the fact that our entire existence in America is basically an extended invitation to a White person's game night, so we've gotten used to it. Since we're aware most of you act plum fools when surrounded by nothing but Black people, if you do happen to be invited somewhere where your presence increases the White population by 100%, we trust you'll be able to handle it. (Or maybe we just kinda hate you and hope you'll do something dumb like touch someone's hair. I guess you'll have to see.)

2. We accept your invitations to all-White spaces that might lead to our death

It's one thing to be the only Black person at the office or even at a nightclub in the city, but it gets a little hairier when you're invited to a White person's house for a dinner party. Or a camping trip. Or West Virginia. If the invitation is accepted, we trust you're not attempting to murder and/or eat us. And we also trust you've made sure not to also invite any of your friends or relatives that'll ask "So, why doesn't Black Lives Matter care about Black-on-Black crime?"


3. "White" is officially a permanent prefix for your name

If your name is "Kim" but Tasha refers to you as "White Kim," it might seem insulting. After all, you are many things other than just White. And there aren't even any other Kims around! You're literally the only Kim at work, so it's not like the White distinguishes you in any way. But, just trust me here. The White is a term of endearment, especially if they actually refer to you as "White Kim" or "White Frank" in your presence.


4. You're allowed to bring the potato salad

If you're invited to a Black person's potluck, and you volunteer to make and bring the potato salad, and you're not immediately doused with a bucket of chloroform, you've officially made it to the circle of trust.


5. You're allowed to touch, do, or cut a Black person's hair

This is perhaps the highest level of trust. Like, how Elaine on Seinfeld reserved sponge status for only the most special men, hair touching status is reserved for only the most special White people. You seriously have to go through an American Ninja Warrior-esque evaluation process before you reach that level. You must study, you must train, and it might even help to change your name to "Storm" or "White Tupac" or something.


6. You have a Black significant other…and no one cares

If you're invited to game night, and your +1 happens to be Jahiem instead of Josh, and no one makes a face, it's because they've already discussed and determined there was a 8474% chance you had a Black boyfriend, and it's already been discussed and determined that they're cool with it.


7. You say something kinda, sorta racially insensitive — not Strom Thurmond racist, but mildly racist (80s sitcoms racist, basically) — and it results in a conversation

We've accepted that even the coolest and most well-intentioned White people can harbor some problematic race-related feelings. Even if dormant and mostly suppressed, they're still there in some form. Basically, racism is the White person's herpes. And, like herpes, if you do happen to say something that makes us cringe, if we like you enough, you'll stay around. It might even start a conversation about why what you said was wrong.


We won't, however, share beers with you anymore. Because herpes.

8. We say something critical of another Black person while in your presence

If Deron is being an asshole, and we like and trust you, we'll acknowledge that Deron is being an asshole. And, we might even agree with your assertion that Deron is an asshole. If we don't like you and trust you though, and Deron is being an asshole, Deron is just going to be an unacknowledged asshole. And if you dare bring up that Deron is an asshole, we're going to human resources.


9. You're single and you express romantic and/or sexual interest in a Black person…and no one cares

This, for the record, might take an even higher level of trust and appreciation than the hair thing. It's one thing to bring your own Black boo to the party. But to come to the party solo and leave with a Black boo and have no one bat an eye is some ninth dungeon Legend of Zelda shit. I think its only been done successfully 17 times.


10. We allow you to bring other White people around

Look, getting invited to game night is on the list, but it's perhaps the weakest thing on it. The invitation could be more of a social experiment than an actual acknowledgement of sincere friendship. Maybe we've always just wanted to see how a White person would describe Wesley Snipes while playing Taboo. But, if you ask if you can bring friends, and we say "Sure," it's a sign we like and trust you enough that we'll give these stranger White people the benefit of the doubt too.


Just don't let any of them bring the potato salad.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


Damon Young

Honorable mention: we get high/drunk in your presence