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Science

People are sharing what they believe happens after we die. The responses are enlightening.

heaven, life after death, afterlife
via Pixabay

A man is walking into heaven (or is he?).

One of the funniest and most bizarre things about being a human being is that we really know very little about what’s going on. Sure, many religious people are confident they know why we exist, where we came from and what happens after we die, but there isn’t a whole lot of evidence to suggest they’re correct.

However, even though we are at the center of an incredible mystery, most people are happy to go about their days without worrying about the basic nature of our existence. This has always been very strange to me. Why isn’t the nature of existence the No. 1 question on everyone’s mind the moment they wake up?

There is one thing we do know for sure: that we are all going to die one day. Some people believe that once we flatline we may get invited to heaven where we get to spend all eternity playing the harp, reuniting with old friends and relatives, and enjoying a pain-free, joyous existence.

But as the TV show “The Good Place” suggests, living a perfect life, free of suffering or challenges, eventually becomes pretty forking boring and pointless.


Mark Twain said it best in “Letters from the Earth”:

His heaven is like himself: strange, interesting, astonishing, grotesque. I give you my word, it has not a single feature in it that he actually values. It consists—utterly and entirely—of diversions which he cares next to nothing about, here in the earth, yet is quite sure he will like them in heaven. Isn't it curious? Isn't it interesting?

Many also believe that if there’s a heaven, there’s also hell where the folks who had a good time on Earth wind up. But wouldn’t that get boring, too? Just as one can get accustomed to living in constant beauty, one probably gets acclimated to the heat and suffering down below.

There are also some who believe in reincarnation, so every time we die we are born again as a different species. Cool if you’re a dolphin, bad news if you’re a dung beetle.

Then there are those who believe that nothing supernatural happens. Your consciousness shuts off and things are a lot like before you were born—absolute nothingness. That’s the least interesting option, but according to science, the most likely.

Reddit user throwawayacctlmaooo wanted to find out what posters on the forum thought about life after death, so they asked, “What do you legitimately believe happens after we die?” They received a ton of responses that were outside of the usual “go to heaven/go to hell” variety. What’s cool is that the posts show that a lot of people have widely divergent ideas about what happens after we die.

Here are some of the best responses to the biggest question in life.

1. You're a wave

"No idea, but there is this quote from the TV show 'The Good Place' that I really like and have found comfort in.

"'Picture a wave. In the ocean. You can see it, measure it, its height, the way the sunlight refracts when it passes through. And it's there. And you can see it, you know what it is. It's a wave.

"And then it crashes in the shore and it's gone. But the water is still there. The wave was just a different way for the water to be, for a little while. You know it's one conception of death for Buddhists: the wave returns to the ocean, where it came from and where it's supposed to be.'" — AlexEventstar

2. Our energy moves on

"Our energy — just like that of every living thing before us — will go on and become new things. Soil. Plants. Lions. Toilet paper. Space ship wheel arches. Dragonfly toes. We're all just part of the same system. Neither manufactured nor destroyed. We're just transferring that bestowed upon us from all those before. Death is life." — four__beasts

3. You've been there before

"Just like before you were born. Not good, not bad, just non-existence." — SniffCheck

4. No need to fear

​"In the great words of Mark Twain: 'I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." — Eva__Unit__02

5. One more time

"When I think about it, I come to this very same conclusion. And that terrifies me. The only thing that is a little comforting for me is that, according to some research and according to some people who have experienced Near Death, just before full-on 'nothingness," you relive your life one last time, with an emphasis on the best moments in your life, all being overwhelmed with a feeling of love." — MrXANA91

6. Isn't this reincarnation?

"I think we just keep on hitting a randomize button and we manifest into something else, again and again endlessly." — FarOutSonOfLung

7. The great nothing

"In my opinion, nothing. Like being under anesthesia but never waking up and ceasing to exist." — throwayaacctlmaooo

8. Choose your own adventure

"I'd like to think we reset like a game and we could choose whether we get reborn or go to some sort of heaven or something." — No_But_Yes

9. We're energy

"I’d honestly like to believe that we all become energy. We move around the universe, maybe even become one with it until we are reincarnated again as something else on earth or a different planet." — cheese-emperor

10. Salamanders

"I think we are all reincarnated as salamanders." — Kyky716

11. New universe?

"I believe we go to another universe but that's just wishful thinking." — Zarek_Pumpkineater

12. Incomparable infinity

"I'm under the impression that death is a separate experience we can't comprehend. Like someone with vision will never truly know the concept of blindness or someone with hearing will never know the concept of deafness.

"You only experience it while you're doing it and I am currently experiencing being alive as a human. You don't know what it was like before you were born because you're obviously alive. Just like you don't know deafness because your ears work.
Beyond that, I believe the universe is in endless million-trillion year long cycles of growth and collapse and the fact that I exist at all means, throughout infinity, I am a guaranteed mathematic outcome and must repeat again." —
bermudalily

13. Nothing

"Nothing. It's the only answer that makes sense. We ARE our thoughts. Our thoughts are in our brain. When we die, our brain shuts down. So our thoughts no longer exist. Anybody who believes in any form of an afterlife really needs to explain how we can have thoughts without our brain. And if they believe that's somehow magically possible, why do we have brains while still alive?" — joeri1505

14. You become fertilizer

"The same as when trees, plants, or other animals die, we decompose & feed the earth for something else to grow." — skev303

15. May the source be with you

"What I like to believe is that all life comes from a specific energy source and is returned there once we die. Sort of like a big pool of life, where all souls merge after death and cycle back into the world to be reborn. As for what we experience in that form I have no idea. But the entire world lives and functions on cycles, from the food chain to the weather cycle, eveywhere you look there is a cycle to maintain it. So it only makes sense life would work the same way." — doopster77

16. Star stuff

"Your surviving family gets all teary, then buries or burns your lifeless body. As the years pass, what atoms once made you, you, become all mixed up in other things, until much later on when the sun dies and engulfs the earth and all its atoms in a final dance of atomic death. Because we are all made of stars, and to them we will all return." — dbryar

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

A child being rude.

Sometimes, it can feel like half of parenting is repeating yourself over and over again, asking your child to brush their teeth or take a dish from the living room to the sink. It’s exhausting and makes you feel like a nag. Don't you wish there was a simple way to make your kids listen the first time?

Dr. Rebecca Kennedy, aka “Dr. Becky,” is a clinical psychologist and founder and CEO of Good Inside who says she has a quick way to make your kids more cooperative and less rude. Talk about killing two soul-crushing birds with one parenting stone.

Dr. Beckly got into psychology after growing up with anorexia as a teenager.

“Okay, no matter how old your kid is, you can use this 15-second tip to decrease rudeness and increase cooperation,” she says in a TikTok video with over 32,000 views. “Find your child today and ask them this question. 'Hey, I was just wondering, what could I do better as your parent?'”


The psychologist says that even if the child has a random or impractical answer such as “Let me stay up ‘til midnight” or “I’d like to eat macaroni and cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” just to listen. Simply by listening, you can change your child’s behavior.

She says we should also ask more questions to further the conversation: “Tell me more. What would that be like?”

Want to improve your relationship with your kid in less than 15 seconds? Watch this reel for a quick-win strategy. 

@drbeckyatgoodinside

Want to improve your relationship with your kid in less than 15 seconds? Watch this reel for a quick-win strategy. The best part: When we use strategies like this in calm moments, we reduce the frequency of difficult moments with our kids. Of course, I’m a realist… I know you need in-the-moment strategies too! Cue: My Conquering Problem Behaviors Workshop. You’ll get an entire toolbox of in-the-moment and outside-the-moment strategies for reducing outbursts and strengthening your bond with your kid. Learn more in the link in bio!

“I mean, imagine your boss coming to you randomly and asking how they could be a better manager to you. Just by asking the question and listening,” she continued. Dr. Becky says that asking our kids how we’re doing as parents communicates three essential ideas: “I care about you. I respect you. I'm invested in this relationship.”

This type of questioning builds a connection with a child that can spill over into other behaviors. “You're building connection. And with more connection always comes more cooperation,” she ends the video.

The big takeaway from the video is that when we enhance our connection with our kids, they will be less likely to disobey or be rude because they feel heard and respected, so there’s no need to act out. They will also return that respect by listening to you when you have a request, such as taking out the trash or putting down their phone and coming to dinner.

Some people in the comments got funny responses when they asked their kids what they could improve. “I asked my 5yr old. I got a mildly scathing look and she said ‘erm, maybe try and burn dinner less next time?’” Collette wrote. “My 5 yo told me to look better and get a haircut,” Mark Amend added.

Dr. Becky’s quick question is a great way for parents to strengthen their relationships when things are going well instead of trying to forge connections during conflict. It’s a great reminder that even when parenting, an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure.

Dr. Becky sums up the importance of prevention in her TikTok caption: “When we use strategies like this in calm moments, we reduce the frequency of difficult moments with our kids,” she wrote.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

******No credits for pics*******

An intense look for an intense pasta?

Lately, art history majors have become something of a pop culture punching bag. Not only has the phrase become short-hand for "unemployable in today's economy," they've also been ridiculed by President Barack Obama on national television.

But will the gentle art of aesthetic study finally get the last laugh?


Middle Earth Organics is known for their organic pasta sauces, each label featuring a famous Italian painting.

While this would normally be an NBD, the painting they chose for their tomato and porcini mushroom sauce has been stirring up controversy online.

art history, art, culture

What you looking at?

******No credits for pics*******

The woman in the painting above is not staring with intense concentration at a pot of delicious, simmering sugo.

marketing, advertising, educational

Good evening. Hungry?

******No credits for pics*******

The image is "Judith Beheading Holofernes," a painting by Caravaggio. Judith, seen above, is not making an al dente delight. Judith is cutting off some dude's head.

As 11points.com noted, "That unfortunate painting selection could've been avoided if they'd just hired an art history major." You heard it here folks. Pasta sauce companies: the future of global arts employment.

Take a look at the art inspired lineup of sauces.

campaign, spaghetti sauce, community

The historical, tomato sauce line up.

******No credits for pics*******

This article originally appeared on 08.16.18

His message is making so many SAHMS feel seen.

Stay-at-home moms work round the clock performing myriad duties, both physically and emotionally demanding, all for zero compensation. But even more dismaying than the lack of monetary gain is the lack of recognition these full-time moms get for what they accomplish day in and day out.

That’s where Donald Schaefer comes in.

Schaefer, a man who seems to be upwards of 80 and living in Florida, is a bit of an unexpected influencer in the mom corner of social media. But nonetheless, his Instagram and TikTok are full of videos meant to offer financial tips, recipe ideas and emotional support specifically for this demographic.

One video in particular is making stay-at-home moms, aka SAHMs, feel so seen.


In his “special message to stay-at-home moms,” Schaefer offers SAHMS the rare gift of being told what an “incredible job” they’re doing, saying that their “dedication, hard work and love are the cornerstones of your family’s well being.”

Watching his daughters and granddaughters with kids, Schaefer says that he’s “amazed” at what accomplished every day, and because of that, he was inspired to remind all SAHMS that “what you’re doing matters immensely.”

“Sometimes in the midst of the chaos of daily routines and endless chores it’s easy to forget how important your role is, but every meal cooked, every scraped knee kissed, every bedtime story read, it all adds up to shaping the future generation,” he said.

@magicman1942 Special message for the stay at home moms. #stayathomemom #personalgrowth #inspiration #stayathomemomstruggle #workingmom #personal ♬ original sound - Don

Schaefer went on to say that it’s “perfectly normal” to get overwhelmed or exhausted with all the responsibilities and isolation that come with the job. That’s what makes self care so necessary.

“Whether it’s stealing a few moments for yourself during nap time, indulging in a hobby you love, or simply just taking a relaxing bath at the end of the day if you can find the time. Prioritize your well being,” he urged.

He then encouraged SAHMs to carve out moments to celebrate the small victories and appreciate the joys of motherhood, whether that looks like “a successful day of homeschooling” or “simply seeing your little one smile.”

Finally, Schaefer brought it all home by reiterating that even if it doesn't always feel like it, a SAHM’s value is “immeasurable.”

“Trust me. You are the heart and soul of your family and your efforts create a warm and nurturing environment where everyone can thrive. Keep shining your light and know that you are appreciated, loved and admired more than you’ll ever know. You’re doing an amazing job, and the world is a better place because of you,” he concluded.

Understandably, viewers were moved.

“Made me tear up!! What man takes the time to encourage moms? None I’ve known. Thank you,” one person wrote.

“This definitely made me cry,” another echoed. “Thank you for such kind words and taking the time to make this video. It touched my heart so much.”

One commented, “I’m not even a SAHM, and I still felt this! ALL moms can relate I think…thank you sir!”

And still, another simply wrote, “Needed this.”

For every SAHM (or any stay-at-home parent, for that matter) may these kind words help bolster your spirit, and remind you that what you do is important indeed. You deserve that, and so much more.

For more of Schaefer's content, find him on Instagram and TikTok.

This isn’t comfortable to talk about.


Trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault and violence.


A recent video by Just Not Sports took two prominent female sportswriters and had regular guys* read the awful abuse they receive online aloud.

Sportswriters Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro sat by as men read some of the most vile tweets they receive on a daily basis. See how long you can last watching it.


*(Note: The men reading them did not write these comments; they're just being helpful volunteers to prove a point.)

It starts out kind of jokey but eventually devolves into messages like this:

reporters, news, human resources

Awful.

All images and GIFs from Just Not Sports/YouTube.

These types of messages come in response to one thing: The women were doing their jobs.

Those wishes that DiCaro would die by hockey stick and get raped? Those were the result of her simply reporting on the National Hockey League's most disturbing ordeal: the Patrick Kane rape case, in which one of the league's top players was accused of rape.

DiCaro wasn't writing opinion pieces. She was simply reporting things like what the police said, statements from lawyers, and just general everyday work reporters do. In response, she received a deluge of death threats. Her male colleagues didn't receive nearly the same amount of abuse.

It got to the point where she and her employer thought it best to stay home for a day or two for her own physical safety.

The men in the video seemed absolutely shocked that real live human beings would attack someone simply for doing their jobs.

broadcast news, female reporters, discrimination

Not saying it.

All images and GIFs from Just Not Sports/YouTube.

Most found themselves speechless or, at very least, struggling to read the words being presented.

hate speech, slander, sexualization

All images and GIFs from Just Not Sports/YouTube.

Think this is all just anecdotal? There's evidence to the contrary.

The Guardian did a study to find out how bad this problem really is.

They did a study of over 70 million comments that have been posted on their site since 2006. They counted how many comments that violated their comment policy were blocked.

The stats were staggering.

From their comprehensive and disturbing article:

"Although the majority of our regular opinion writers are white men, we found that those who experienced the highest levels of abuse and dismissive trolling were not. The 10 regular writers who got the most abuse were eight women (four white and four non-white) and two black men. Two of the women and one of the men were gay. And of the eight women in the 'top 10', one was Muslim and one Jewish.

And the 10 regular writers who got the least abuse? All men."
harassment, feminism, culture, community

If you can’t say it to their face... don’t type it.

All images and GIFs from Just Not Sports/YouTube.

So what can people do about this kind of harassment once they know it exists?

  1. To start? Share things that make people aware it's happening. Listen to the Just Not Sports podcast where they talk about it.
  2. If you know someone who talks like this to anyone on the internet, CALL THEM OUT. Publicly, privately — just let them know it's not OK to talk to anyone like this.
  3. Don't stop talking about it. Every day, the harassment continues. Don't let it linger without attention.

There are no easy answers. But the more people who know this behavior exists, the more people there will be to tell others it's not OK to talk to anyone like that.

Watch the whole video below:

.This article originally appeared on 04.27.16


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.

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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.

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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.