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Friendship

Joy

7 things Black people want their well-meaning white friends to know

"You, white friend, need to speak up and say something when I can't."

Growing up black in a white neighborhood.

I grew up black in a very white neighborhood in a very white city in a very white state.

As such, I am a lot of people's only black friend.


Being the only black friend is a gift and a curse. I am black and I love having friends. But I am also, at any given moment, expected to be a translator, an ambassador, a history teacher, and/or a walking, talking invitation into "I am not racist" territory. It's a lot to handle. See what I mean about that curse?

So when I saw the animated short-film "Your Black Friend," I felt so seen. Clearly, I am not alone.

racism, friendship, equality, education

Don't get me wrong, my friends are awesome, just very white. Here are me and a few of my pixelated pals before a high school dance in the early 2000s.

Photo courtesy of the author.

The film, which was written, designed, and narrated by Ben Passmore and is based on his mini-comic of the same name, is a brilliant, refreshing way to examine whiteness and racism. The comic and animated short are an open-letter from "your black friend" to you, their well-meaning white friend, about bias, alienation, and what it means to be a good ally and friend.

It's funny, honest, and heartbreaking in equal measure. And speaking from personal experience, it captures the experience of being a black friend to white people pretty much perfectly.

So if you're a "woke" friend and ally, here are some things your black friend wants you to know.

1. You're going to have to get uncomfortable.

race, social issues, racism, bias

Animation depicting a racist joke that creates an awkward and upsetting space.

Silver Sprocket/YouTube

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.

It's not easy to confront strangers or people you love, but if you don't do it, you are part of the problem. Sitting out isn't an option. No one said being an ally is easy.

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.'"

inequality, police, obedience, power dynamics

Biased situations that play out uncomfortably true.

Silver Sprocket/YouTube

"He knows this type of person expects that from him, and he will lose before he begins," Passmore says.

Black people can't always react or respond the way we want to. When I am followed in a department store, pulled over for no reason, or stared at while picking up dinner at the fancy grocery store, I can't stop what I'm doing and yell, "YES, I AM BLACK. NO, I AM NOT A CRIMINAL YOU SMALL-MINDED, BIASED ASSHOLES." Trust me, I want to. But especially when police are involved, I have to be calm, respectful, and obedient.

That's where you come in. You, white friend, need to speak up and say something when I can't. If you are not at risk, nor considered a threat, you have a certain amount of privilege in these situations. Use it to demand answers, speak to supervisors, or if things really get dicey, pull out your phone and hit record.

3. We are constantly monitoring our surroundings and adjusting our clothes, hair, speed, and speech to maintain white comfort.

privilege, cultural bias, police brutality, human rights

Friends may not realize the challenges in avoiding unwarranted confrontation.

Silver Sprocket/YouTube

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.

When I am in a parking garage and walking behind a white woman, I intentionally cough or walk a little louder so she turns and notices me.

Why? Because when I don't, that same white woman will often clutch her purse and occasionally let out an audible gasp as I pass her. This is something my white friends likely don't realize I have to do. Some of them may even be the pearl-clutchers in the parking lot.

But to maintain white comfort and to avoid having the cops called on us, we often have to tamp down clothes, modify our speech and volume, even do our hair differently. We have to have "the talk" with our kids about how the world sees them, and how act in order to make sure they come home alive.

No, it's not fair. No, we don't like it. But so long as this country and its institutions are built on a solid foundation of white supremacy, it's a grim reality. You need to know that, and take it up with your fellow white people about how to dismantle it.

4. "Your black friend wishes you'd play more than Beyoncé. There are more black performers than Beyoncé."

friendship, respect and curiosity, music appreciation

Taste isn't only derived from race and culture.

Silver Sprocket/YouTube

"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 new artists and genres you may not be familiar with. Go listen, see it, and experience it for yourself.

And while we're here, you can't say the n-word when you sing along. Nope. You just can't.

5. Speaking of which, performative blackness is really uncomfortable.

Halloween, racism, cultural appropriation, costumes

Sometimes jokes and misguided appreciation is hurtful.

Silver Sprocket/YouTube

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."

alienation, culture, heritage, pizza

Can we enjoy each others company without pointing out our differences.

Silver Sprocket/YouTube

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.

Our white friends and allies need to step up and gather their people. Have the tough conversations. Speak up when you see racism, discrimination, and microaggressions. The time to talk about it is done. Be about it, or find yourself a new black friend.

Watch "Your Black Friend" in full and check out Passmore's book, "Your Black Friend And Other Strangers."


This article was written by Erin Canty and originally published on January 30, 2018.

Photo by Katerina Holmes|Canva

Mom in tears after another parent calls about daughter's lunch


People say having children is like having your heart walk around outside of your body. You send them off to school, practices or playdates and hope that the world treats them kindly because when they hurt, you hurt. Inevitably there will be times when your child's feelings are hurt so you do your best to prepare for that day.

But what prepares you for when the child you love so much winds up accidentally healing your inner child. A mom on TikTok, who goes by Soogia posted a video explaining a phone call she received from a parent in her daughter's classroom. The mom called to inform Soogia that their kids had been sharing lunch with each other.

Soogia wasn't prepared for what came next. The classmate's mother informed her that her son loves the food Soogia's daughter brings to school and wanted to learn how to cook it too.


That may seem like a small thing to some, but the small gesture healed a little bit of Soogia's inner child. Growing up as a Korean kid in California, Soogia's experience was a bit different than what her children are now experiencing.

"I guess I just never thought that my kids would be the generation of kids that could go to school and not only just proudly eat, but share their food with other kids that were just so open and accepting to it," Soogia says through tears. "Knowing that they don't sit there eating their food, feeling ashamed and wishing that their fried rice was a bagel instead or something like that. And I know, it sounds so small and it sounds so stupid, but knowing their experience at school is so different from mine in such a positive way is just so hopeful."

Soogia's tearful video pulled on the heartstrings of her viewers who shared their thoughts in the comments.

"Soogia! It will never be small. Your culture is beautiful & the littles are seeing that every day. You've even taught me so much. I'm grateful for you," one person says.

"Beautiful! I can see your inner child healing in so many ways," another writes.

"Welp. Now I'm sobbing at the airport. This is beautiful," someone reveals.

"These Gen Alpha babies really are a different, kinder generation. I love them so much," one commenter gushes.

You can hear the entire story below. You may want to grab a tissue.

@soogia1

These kids, man. They’re really something else. #culturalappreciation #breakingbread #sharing #

This article originally appeared on 3.23.24

Joy

There are over 30 years between these amazing before-and-after photos.

"It's important for me for my photography to make people smile."

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Before and after photos separated by 30 years.




Chris Porsz was tired of studying sociology.

As a university student in the 1970s, he found the talk of economics and statistics completely mind-numbing. So instead, he says, he roamed the streets of his hometown of Peterborough, England, with a camera in hand, snapping pictures of the people he met and listening to their stories. To him, it was a far better way to understand the world.

He always looked for the most eccentric people he could find, anyone who stood out from the crowd. Sometimes he'd snap a single picture of that person and walk away. Other times he'd have lengthy conversations with these strangers.


But eventually, life moved on and so did he. He fell out of love with photography. "Those pictures collected dust for 25 years," he says.

Then, a few years ago, Porsz found those 30- to 40-year-old photos and sent them to be printed in his local newspaper.

Peterborough, reunions, Chris Porsz

Chris Porsz and his camera.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

And remarkably, people started recognizing much younger versions of themselves in his shots. "There was this lightbulb moment," he says of the first time someone wrote to him about one of his photos.

Eventually, he became curious about the people he'd photographed all those years ago, and he decided he'd try to find some of them. It wouldn't be easy — the photos were taken a long time ago, and Porsz didn't have names or contact information for many of the people in them.

But he did find some of them, sometimes in extraordinary ways. "Some were absolute million-to-one coincidences," he says.

Like the time he went out on a call (he's a parademic these days) at 3 a.m., and the man he was there to treat recognized him as the photographer who'd snapped his picture all those years ago. On another call, he asked a local shopkeeper if he recognized any of the subjects in the photos. He did.

Once Porsz began posting about the project online — he calls it "Reunions" — it became easier and easier to reconnect with his former subjects.

Many were eager to recreate the old shots as best they could, like Layla Gordon, who Porsz originally photographed drinking milk in 1983.

time, memories, photos

The child version drinking milk.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

milk, history, project

The adult enjoys milk too.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Others groups, like these schoolgirls, had fallen out of touch. "Reunions," fittingly enough, brought them back together.

schoolgirls, pose, soul mate

Schoolgirls pose for a photo.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

best friends, intimate, confidant

The adult versions find time for a group photo.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Porsz says that his subjects, like this wild-haired couple, were strangers to him 30 years ago. Now he considers many of them friends.

punk rock, narrative, archive

Pink colored hair and mohawks.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

record, story, account

The color has moved to the sleeves.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

In all, Porsz has collected over 130 before-and-afters in his new book.

The response to Porsz's work has been more than he ever imagined.

He's personally heard from people all over the world who've been inspired by his project and want to try to recreate it themselves. But beyond that, he just hopes it brings a little warmth and happiness to the people who see it.

"It's important for me for my photography to make people smile," he says. "Because there is so much sadness in the world."

And while the project is finished for now, don't count out the possibility of "Reunions Part 2" somewhere down the line.

"I'd love to meet these guys in 2046 when I'm 94 years old," Porsz says.


This article originally appeared on 11.30.16

Some girls out at a bchelorette party.

A recent story posted on Reddit shows how sometimes trusting your gut can be the best thing you can do, even if following it will seriously impact your friendships. It all started when a 24-year-old woman with the username Yslbabycat went to a bachelorette party with 5 other friends in Italy.

For brevity’s sake, we’ll call our main character YBC.

One night, the six girls went bar and club hopping and met some new friends. “We met some young people, and they invited us to a party. We went and danced and met more people. The night kept going on longer, and we were very far from our lodgings. These young men with 2 women in their group told us to stay with them for the night,” she wrote.

That’s when she had the first strong gut feeling.


“I wasn’t feeling this situation. It felt unsafe, but the group voted and I was in the minority,” she continued.”I didn’t trust these men. Something seemed wrong. But I was at a loss as I could not split from my group and didn’t feel safe separating from them in the middle of the night.”

Even though the girls locked their doors that night, the men could enter their rooms. But the girls, besides YBC, all wanted to stay another day because the men promised to show them around Italy.

“I didn’t want to get into a car with them because I found them creepy. There were women in their group but it didn’t matter. They seemed even more suspicious to me, being overly friendly,” She continued. “The whole morning, I found the men staring at me a lot and also making some comments about my ethnicity—I am Korean and they could tell and it seemed that they were interested in me because of my ethnicity, asking me strange questions …including if I’m a virgin or not.. so in my head I could only think of perverted reasons for these questions because I thought these guys were sketchy and sizing us all up for some reason I couldn’t figure out yet.”

YBC's friends tried to tell her that it was just cultural differences and that the men weren’t being creepy, but she decided that she wanted to leave. So, she called her boyfriend in France, a few hours’ drive away, to come get her. She met him at a local store, where YBC called the bride-to-be and informed her she was leaving.

The bride-to-be screamed at her on the phone and chastised her for spoiling the “mood of the trip” and told YBC to essentially “f*** off.”

After YBC left, the other 5 girls went on a boat with the men who all tried to get them “extremely” intoxicated. They then began to aggressively pressure the girls into having sex. At the night's end, the girls got away from the men and found another hotel.

Even though YBC’s suspicions were confirmed, the bride-to-be was still upset with her, and YBC did not attend her friend’s wedding.

In the end, Reddit commenters overwhelmingly thought that YBC did the right thing by trusting her gut.

“So all the other girls but the bachelorette confirmed that you were right and the guys were super creepy and yet the bachelorette is still pissed at you for getting yourself out of there?” YouSayWotNow wrote. “All of them are very lucky nothing really bad happened, and frankly, they should be embarrassed they didn't take you seriously at the time.”

“You may have saved the entire group by leaving early, as the men realized that you knew where they lived and could ID them,” RobinC1967 added. “Please don't ever feel bad for getting yourself out of a sketchy situation. Stay Smart!”

Most would agree that YBC did the right thing by trusting her gut and trying to lead her friends out of a potentially dangerous situation. Psychology Today supports her decision to trust her feelings. In an article entitled, “3 Reasons Why You Have to Trust Your Gut,” Susanna Newsonen says that your intuition is encoded in your brain like “a web of fact and feeling” and is helpful because it’s “shaped by your past experiences and the existing knowledge that you gained from them.”


This article originally appeared on 3.16.24