How To Be A White Person In A Room Full Of Black People


Maybe you were just invited to your Black co-worker's Delta Sigma Theta hot dog eating contest. Or perhaps your Black boyfriend of six years finally gathered the nerve to introduce you to his parents. Or maybe you just got a new job and have to relocate…to D.C.. Or Atlanta. Or Detroit. Or perhaps you just won free tickets to a K. Michelle show. Either way, you're a White person who, in the near future, is going to be in a situation where you're surrounded by Black people, so what the hell do you do?


Luckily, you've come to the right place. Because I — a Black person — have decades of experience of being surrounded by Black people. And I — an American Black person — also have decades of experience of being the only Black person in the room.

So here are some helpful tips on how to comport yourself as the only White person in the room.

1. Do not assume that the Black people are going to eat you

Because Black people are not cannibals. And, even if we were, who's to say we'd even eat you? You might not even taste that good! You need to check yourself on that "I'm White so I obviously must be delicious" privilege.

2. If around a large enough group of Black people, there's bound to be at least one who might say something not completely positive about President Obama. ("You really can't trust a guy who hoops in Costco Nikes.") Other Black people might nod their heads and agree. You cannot.

Black people might not cannibals. But we can be devious. And this very well might be a trick to bait you into an unwinnable argument about Obama that'll eventually segue into a rant about White people's potato salad. Do not — I repeat — do not fall for this chicanery.


3. Do not tell self-deprecating jokes about your Whiteness

If the Black people are about to Wobble, and you feel yourself about to say "I'm too White to Wobble" to the Black person standing next to you, take both of your hands, place them on your neck, and squeeze it until your oxygen flow is too constricted for you to speak or even properly conjugate verbs.


Why? Well, we know you're White. We knew you were White when we invited you. We knew you were White when you walked in. And we knew you were White when we started calling you "White Jane" even though there's no other Jane there. No need to draw extra attention to your Whiteness, White Jane.

4. If invited to a party with Black people, do not bring a bag of Afro wigs and platform shoes to pass out so they can help you reenact your favorite scene from Undercover Brother


One, because that's racist as fuck. But, more importantly, although Undercover Brother is an underrated classic featuring the shamefully underappreciated Aunjanue Ellis, not every Black person has seen it. So the reenactment is going to get bogged down by Black people asking "Wait…who am I supposed to be again?" And by the time you're done explaining things, the meat will be ready. And, when the meat is ready…well, good luck trying to get them away from the meat long enough to do a passable reenactment of your favorite scene from Undercover Brother.

5. Don't steal anything

If you're invited to an all-Black game night, and this is a room full of American Black people, they'll likely already be kinda sore about that whole stolen from Africa thing from a few years back. So don't add insult to injury by stealing a bedroom dresser or a bottle of Apothic Red or the host's ex-boyfriend. It's just not cool.


6. Always carry Hennessy

Although Hennessy tastes like skating rink toilet water and the third stage of grief, some Black people inexplicably enjoy it and will mix it with everything from orange juice to Frosted Flakes. Have some in your attache, and instantly be their favorite White person.


7. Be yourself

Unless, of course, you're a werewolf man who usually turns wolf after 11:30pm on the first Saturday of each month…and this happens to be the first Saturday of the month. Do not — I repeat — do not be yourself. We're fine with one regular White guy. But one regular White guy turned werewolf eating all the remotes and shredding werewolf hair on the couches is just a bit too much to ask.


If you're not a werewolf, though, just be yourself.

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)


Agatha Guilluame

Here's my question…do whites know, that the token black friend in their group is actually not a reliable source of all things black and cool that they were hoping he or she would be…

…cuz the cool blacks are not hanging out in all white groups…they're in fact busting a$$ at the spades table…