Living in the colorful country of South Africa, we all have mixed race friend circles. With diverse cultures, religions and general ways of upbringing, it brings with it many challenges. Being from another ethic group and having to ‘blend in’ can be challenging at times.
Sometimes we do not take these challenges into consideration when having a friend of another race, nor do we express these when being the friend of another race.
A man by the name of Ben Passmore created a short film titled “Your Black Friend”. The film is a short animated comic of a letter that a black friend wrote his white friend, expressing bias, alienation, and what it means to be a supportive and whitefriend. The short film is done in good taste with a comical side to it.
Here are seven points to remember when you are with your black friend, from Ben himself:
1.” You’re going to have to get uncomfortable.”
“It could be something as obvious and upsetting as a racist joke. Or something as ‘benign’ as your aunt suggesting you cross the street when she sees a group of black kids walking by. But either way, if you want to be a good friend and a real ally, you’re going to have to speak up. You’re going to have to have those tough conversations with people you care about.”
2.” Your black friend would like to say something to the racist lady, but doesn’t want to appear to be that ‘angry black man.’”
“‘He knows this type of person expects that from him, and he will lose before he begins.”
3. “We are constantly monitoring our surroundings and adjusting our clothes, hair, speed, and speech to maintain white comfort.”
“We don’t like it, but one small choice — like deciding whether or not to wear a hood, or the speed at which we reach into our glove box — can be the difference between life and death.”
4. “Your black friend wishes you’d play more than Beyoncé. There are more black performers than Beyoncé.”
“‘Lemonade’ was awesome. There is no denying it. And yes, I love seeing her iconic looks on Instagram too. But there is more to black music and black art than Beyoncé. Dip a toe outside your comfort zone and try new artists and genres you may not be familiar with. Go listen, see it, and experience it for yourself.”
5. “Speaking of which, performative blackness is really uncomfortable.”
“When you wear that braided wig on Halloween, or use your ‘blaccent’ when you’re around me or other black people, it hurts. It’s not cute or charming, and it definitely doesn’t make you seem cool.”
“Our culture and heritage are not costumes you can slide on and off at your convenience. We don’t get to be black only when it suits us. Neither do you.”
6. “Your black friend feels like a man without a country.”
“Having white friends and seeming to ‘fit in’ with the majority can feel really alienating. You can feel too ‘white’ for black people, and too ‘black’ for white people when all you want to do is find people to eat pizza with. As Passmore wrote, ‘He is lost in this contradiction, and held responsible for it.’”
7. “We would love it if we could stop talking about our anxiety and frustrations regarding racism. But right now, that’s impossible.”
“Our concerns are urgent and real. We’re getting subpar health care. We’re disenfranchised. We’re over-policed. We’re thrown in jail. We’re killed by people sworn to protect us. It’s exhausting, but we have to keep talking about it. So, do you. We can’t be expected to dismantle white supremacy on our own.”
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Even though the film stems from the life of a black man abroad, it still has some South African relevance.
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