‘I Can’t Be Racist Because My Best Friend Is Black and Lives in the Condo I Own’ Is the Whitest Thing I’ve Ever Heard This Week


As a professional observer, curator, interpreter, documentarian and even occasional appreciator of blatant and reckless acts of shameless whiteness, I’ve seen and read about enough types of aggressively white behavior now to last five lifetimes. Particularly in regard to racism (anti-blackness, specifically). I’m like an old and fat NBA point guard who’s able to stay in the league because he’s seen every defense and run every play and has replaced quickness and leaping ability with guile and old-ass-uncle strength. Basically, when it comes to racism, I’m Raymond Felton.


Because of this experience, I’ve become a bit of a racism foodie. Sure, I appreciate a good and simple “nigger” every once in a while (kinda like a no-frills steak-and-eggs breakfast), but what really makes my soul sing are unearthed gems of bigotry and previously undiscovered artifacts of racial animus. Or, even better, no-frills hate with a creative twist. Like omelettes ... with peanut butter! Or a milkshake ... with couscous! And I thank New Jersey high school referee Ernie Lunardelli for providing me with this treat.

Lunardelli and his son Anthony walked off the field of a game they were supposed to be working Friday night because four players from one of the high schools knelt during the national anthem.


When interviewed by NJ.com, Lunardelli gave his rationale:

“Whoever is disrespecting that flag and the national anthem, that’s who I have a problem with,” Lunardelli said. “That’s my protest. I don’t care if it’s a baby, if it’s an 80-year-old man, anybody. I don’t care. Any race, color, I don’t care who it is. It’s not the way I was brought up and it pisses me off that people are doing that.”

Of course, both Lunardelli’s act and his explanation are transparent “Make America great again” dog whistles. It’s him signaling, “I am not one of them. I am one of you” to the type of people who appreciate that type of acknowledgment. The real fun, however, started when NJ.com dug into Lunardelli’s social media history and found him exhibiting some pretty standard no-frills racism.

On a Facebook post from Jan. 21 showing a picture of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Ernie Lunardelli wrote: “Yea! Thanks for f***ing up the country!! Back to the zoo!!”


Of course, Lunardelli denied writing any of this, claiming that he was hacked. But his rationale? Holy fucking shit. I want to bronze it and display it at the Louvre. I want to drink its milkshake. He said:

I’m not a racist. My best friend is black. He lives in the condo I own in North Brunswick.



We’ve all heard “My best friend is black” before. The “black best friend” is so old hat that I think it is literally just an old nigga named “Hat” that white people circulate when necessary like a regifted fruitcake. But “He lives in the condo I own” is some ambitious-ass hat, since it implies that a black person living on land he owns absolves him of racism—a loophole that, if true, would also absolve literally every plantation owner, Donald Trump, Donald Sterling, Scrooge McDuck and, well, America. This nigga pulled an America! No one pulls an America! Except, of course, America! (And Great Britain and France, too, I guess.)


Anyway, thank you, Ernie Lunardelli, for my cookies-and-couscous shake. I wouldn’t quite call it delicious, but it sure is interesting!

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)


Jen Jen Jen

Can we interview his “black best friend” to get his side of the story? We’ve all heard the accounts of slave owners being surprised when the slaves they treated so well decided to escape. “BBF” might think of Ernie more as a landlord than a friend. IJS...