I used to love this blog in college, but heres the post I want to talk about today. Its an oldie but a goodie. Maybe the most difficult thing for Mormons, and Im sure other people too, is to figure out how to talk to black people. I mentioned in an earlier post, when I first got to Utah, people liked to tell me stories about random Black people they knew. Babies and children of all sorts stare at me when I go to Costco – Ive seen them crane their heads around their parents to get a better look. Them I dont mind, its not their fault they have never seen someone of a darker hue before. But lets just say, I no longer go to Walmart in some parts of the world, because its just much too much uncomfortable.
I am often the only Black person at the events I attend, and Ive experienced the annoyingly eye-rolling to the jaw-droppingly racist, so let me give you the primer on what I do and do not like, and you can see if it generalizes to anyone else. 1) I hate being ignored. In one class I was in a girl from Arizona said she just didnt address directly differences of her friends, because she was scared of offending them. My response to her was, if we are actually friends, then let me teach you how to treat me. Its no different than anything else you have to learn about me – where I like to eat, what movies I will go see, and oh yeah how I talk and feel about this huge piece of what the world defines me as. I dont want people to be color-blind, because then it feels like you are pretending Im just like you, and Im not. I would like to be able to talk about those things that are different from you, whether its how much lotion I put on (a ton) or how often I wash my hair (not a ton), without feeling awkward about it. So maybe you dont know what to say: well I promise to be forgiving, if you promise to make an effort.
Numero dos: Wait until I say something racist first, and then laugh, because I eventually will, and it will be funny. Like when my friend makes a comment about their being only one white free safety left (whatever that is), it works, but if I say it then we’d all be awkward. Its probably true, but its mean. Its bad if you say something racist first, then I have to decide if Im going to be the bigger person, and I honestly will probably not talk to you again. But when I say it first, like when I told my best friend that I was his magical negro (see Will Smith in Bagger Vance and Morgan Freeman in everything), well then its funny, because its true. Then you can laugh at me while I eat fried chicken, but not before.
Three: I have no idea. Lets pretend this is like the Dave Chappell Show and you can ask a black girl. This could be fun. It will be an ongoing thing. Put your questions in the comments section and Ill get back to you.