16 Things Black People Wish They Could Explain To Their White Friends

NB : No reblogging or Copy + Paste to your website. This is the writer’s property.

Over the years, there is one observation I’ve made about black people in various social situations. Amongst fellow black people, we don’t feel the need to explain ourselves; we just ‘get’ each other, even if we’re from different cultural backgrounds. When you’re a black person amongst white people though, there seem to be a million bajillion things you have to explain about yourself and your life.

And most of the time, black people don’t bother explaining because it’s too much of an effort.

In the interests of promoting social understanding and togetherness, here’s a list of things that white people need to know about black people. Very importantly, not all black people are the same, so not all of these will apply equally. Lovely friends, here are 16 things that black people need to explain to their white friends:

1 ‘Bring and share’ parties are a white people thing.
If you’re going to organise a party then you should cater for it, it’s a basic principle of hospitality. The idea that I must cater for a party that you are hosting is completely foreign to me. Alas, because it’s your party, I will go with the flow and bring a pack of Doritos, the ones in a blue packet.

2 Underwear must be washed by hand, every day.
When you walk into my bathroom you will almost definitely find a few lacy numbers hanging on the rail. Don’t be alarmed. I was taught to wash my undies straight after a bath, you were taught to throw them in your laundry basket (it’s gross but I still love you).

3 Closed guest lists don’t mean a thang to us, if I hear about it, I’m there.
Birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries and funerals are free for all. Relatives, friends, enemies, neighbours, people passing by are all welcome! It’s not weird at all when there are random strangers appearing in our wedding videos, it is part of the territory. A closed guest list is a sure way to offend a black person.

4 The words “gap year” don’t exist in our vocabulary.
There is no scenario where the words “gap year” can feature positively in a conversation between a black person and their mother, father or relatives. Telling your parents that you’re doing a gap year is telling them that you want to be unemployed for the rest of your life, period.

5 Hair is a political issue.
White friend, I know you’ve never had to debate the question of natural hair versus relaxed hair with your white friends. You probably didn’t know the difference. The hair debate isn’t just a silly thing to us, it’s a serious issue. Just Google ‘black hair blogs’ and watch Good Hair.

6 Don’t look surprised, disappointed or whisper behind your hand when black people pile their plates high.
Piling your plate high at an event is not gluttony, it’s wholly appropriate if the food is in abundance. We’re not being rude, we’re just being ourselves. Also, don’t laugh when we talk about taking leftovers home for breakfast tomorrow, we’re being serious.

7 Black people don’t do cats.
Don’t ask them why because they’ll look at you cross-eyed. We’re okay with you having pet cats but please, please do not expect us to cuddle, kiss or love them. In fact, black people don’t really do pets at all, dogs belong outside and are there as a matter of necessity, there’s no love lost between me and Spotty.

Get the rest of the 16 Things Black People Wish They Could Explain to Their White Friends for free by clicking this link!

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183 thoughts on “16 Things Black People Wish They Could Explain To Their White Friends

  1. Funny read and most of it hit home. Thanks
    I have to say, the use of “black people” seems like a sweeping generalisation. I’m black African and have been exposed to #1 since I was in Sunday school when the congregation brought all sorts to share, I can say the same for most of my black friends. #14 I was taught to always take my shoes off when I get to someone’s house unless I want to get the “eye” for scuffing their perfectly polished floor. Different experiences I guess.

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  2. It’s really weird to me, but a lot of what you say is also true of Afrikaans culture. Especially not going ANYWHERE in bare feet and dogs belonging outside! That’s how I was brought up. And the thing about unmarried boyfriends – yeah, that’s slowly changing. But bringing food to someone’s house comes from our history of deprivation. Yes, I know it now seems strange, but there was a time when we brought food so that no one was embarrassed. Just what history does to you, I guess.

    But a great piece and one that fosters understanding. Thank you very much.

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  3. Concerning point No 1: About 50 years ago I went with some friends to visit a guy called Elliot Mngadi. As it was close to lunch time, at the suggestion of some of the white people among us, we took along some food in case he felt obliged to feed his unexpected guests. The black people among us said nothing, but Elliot Mngadi did when we arrived. He said in African culture you don’t take food to someone’s house. It just isn’t done. It’s one of the cultural differences that seems to remain strong.

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  4. I’m glad this information wasn’t “too much of an effort” to share, because infact I’ve found it very insightful.

    My white cultural is increasingly becoming a very individualistic one. You just need to look at our big walls around our homes and ask us how much we know about the people that live down our street, to realise this.

    So if we’re not even engaging our white counterparts, except for the casual “How are you?”, “I’m fine, thank you”, just imagine how awkward it feels for us to meaningfully question black people about their lives and cultural norms?

    However, you can believe me when I say the following. Just like you might be envious of white peoples ‘perceived’ wealth, we are envious about the family bonds you have with people who aren’t even blood relatives, and to have your children grow up playing in the streets which our high walls prohibit our kids to do.

    I can’t summarise my culture in comment box, but this does offer a glimpse of a somewhat one sided and generalised point of view of a 27 year old white guy. And I hope for more humorous conversations like this in the future, so we can starts understanding each other in a more meaningful way.

    I do have one question: Why do black people snort so loudly? ;-)

    (Side note: If you read this, I hope you sense my heart behind my comment and not scrutinize me on any facts. I’m open for meaningful conversation though.)

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  5. I am sitting here giggling and giggling, my black girlfriends must think I am a complete heathen because I reckon I have misunderstood about 15 out of 16 of these things…it’s fantastic to read it :) (Although my dog Cake crawled onto my friend Linda’s lap about two and half years ago while we were watching a movie; and the two are thick as thieves forever more! Linda calls me “Baby Mama” now, referring to Cake as her baby. He he. Love this kind of writing, will subscribe to it…that, and I’ll remember that every time I go to a black girlfriends dinner I will only ever take a packet of blue Doritos in a completely ironic fashion! X

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  6. Well written. I so identify. I might include that hiring my brothers and sisters (cousins) is not nepotism. Nepotism as a word exists in capitalism, which glorifies competition and individualism. And there is nothing capitalist in the african way of life.

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      1. I enjoyed reading every point, its like you’re from the house next door, brilliant writing

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  7. WOW! So true. I could almost swear you come not only from my part of Africa but my family. Please give us some more “insight full” stuff. GOD bless you

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  8. kkkk so true the boyfriend one was hilarious remembered hw l was beaten thoroughly for walking with a boyfriend and always wondered hw l was going to be married if it was taboo to hv one.

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  9. You know when going into this I was kind of sceptical and on the look out for any kind of stereotypical notions; but I must say “It’s a GREAT piece!” I feel like saying congratulations, lol. Well done! Hilarious and entertaining.

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  10. Loved this, and I hatw to say I relate, but I’m Greek and 90 % of that article I relate to. Especially the bring and share and the respect of parents. Great read, and funny too. Thanks.

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  11. I swear as black as I may think I am, I am as white as they come. I fully understand that cats and dogs aren’t just pets but part of the family. freaking fantastic!!

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  12. Reblogged this on Soul Canvas and commented:
    I love this article so much I had to share it! It is mostly referring to black Africans rather than blacks in general. And as a black African I can confirm that all the points in this article are accurate! Enjoy!

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  13. 3,6 & partly 8 though makes me wonder about the “blacks” you hang out with…. #7 & #10 are hillirious… Love being black though!

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      1. 3,6,8 are SOOO darkie – Just yesterday Iwas at a boardmeeting, as we left the white folks were taking “Skaftin” and have created a provision because they now GET it – no food is going to waste!
        This list is totally on point…here’s another…when black people hang out together, they are not hating the white people, no are they gossiping- English is usually our 7th language! Sometimes we just need a break…

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  14. The part of UKUNGENWA when your husband dies to keep the wealth in the family you are given to the brother. It is a dying culture but still practised in other parts of the country e.g KZN.UKUTWALWA again another disturbing culture but still exist where an old man is lazy to propose and just makes a little girl his wife e.g EC

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  15. Great blog!! And soo true. One more thing though I think should have been on the list is ancestors (amadlozi/badimo) I don’t even know how I’d explain it to my kids let alone a white person. But what you wrote is on point, but to cover everything you’d need to write books, lots. I loved your blog.

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    1. Hi Tumi! Ah, yes… The ancestors story is a tricky one :-/ Thank you for your kind words, I feel encouraged to write more, even books! ♥

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    1. SO PERFECTLY AFRICAN I CAN GIVE YOU THAT, WOW AFRICAN CULTURES ARE JUST THE SAME REGARDLESS OF WHICH PART OF TE CONTINENT YOU AT.

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      1. Hi Desiree! :) I’m glad you enjoyed it! Don’t take my word for it though, make sure you double check those facts with your friend ;)

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