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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."

cultural translator, history, diversity, representation

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.

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

Ms. Natalie Ringold's lesson in kindness has gone viral.

No matter our age, we all want kindness and respect from our peers. No one enjoys being judged or criticized, and negative comments about our appearance sting even if we don't want them to.

Unfortunately, that doesn't always stop people from pointing out things they think we should change about ourselves. Issues like hair shaming and body shaming are all too common, despite greater awareness of the hurt they cause.

Elementary school teacher Natalie Ringold shared a lesson about this phenomenon, and though it's geared toward kids, it's one a lot of grown-ups could take to heart as well.


Holding a tube of toothpaste, Ms. Ringold explained when it's appropriate to say something about someone's appearance and when it's not.

"If somebody can't change something about themselves in 30 seconds or less," she said, "then you shouldn't be mentioning it to them."

She gave examples of things that do take 30 seconds or less, such as if someone's shoe is untied or they have something stuck to their shirt or their fly is unzipped. For those things, it's okay to tell the person (politely, and in private if it's something that might embarrass them to point out in front of other people) so they can fix it.

But if it's something that would take more than 30 seconds to change or isn't even possible to change, like their hairsytle or hair color or body shape, then that's not something you should comment on.

"Your words have power," Ms. Ringold said. Squeezing toothpaste out of the tube, she explained that when you say something about someone that they can't change in 30 seconds or less, it can be hurtful, and just like toothpaste once it's out of the tube, you can't fully take it back once it's out there.

"You try to apologize, you try to take the words back…and you try to undo what you said, undo what you did. But it's something they couldn't change about themselves, and so it get very messy. You can't totally take those words back. You can't totally fix it."

"Your words have power and your words matter," she said. "If you walk out of this room spreading kindness to the people around you, spreading love to the people around you, that is what truly makes a difference."

Ms. Ringold shared that she does this lesson with her students on the last day of school because she wants them to remember this concept for the rest of their lives. People in the comments were so appreciative of the message for all ages.

"I think many adults need to hear this message!"

"Exactly my thoughts. A lot of adults need to hear this too."

"BLESS YOU!!! As a person who was relentlessly racially harassed as a child, I wish this was taught."

"If they are old enough to be mean on purpose they are old enough to be kind on purpose."

"This should be required viewing for anyone who wants to join social media."

"This made me cry. Can I start my college courses with this?"

"I saw you post this and had this conversation with my 4th graders!! It helped so much!!"

Here's to teachers teaching lessons beyond academics, helping kids learn that their humanity matters just as much as their grades.

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.

Lexis Redd D'Ville is bringing drag queens mainstream in the Deep South

Drag queens and mimosas? Now, that's Southern comfort.

Curtesy of Jacalyn Wetzel

Lexis Redd D'Ville bringing drag queens to the Deep South

Given some of the laws being passed in the southern half of the country, it's easy to assume events like drag brunch would be met with disapproval. But Autherius Lawson has been bringing drag to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for years, even in the midst of other southern cities attempting to outright ban drag performances.

Lawson performs as Lexis Redd D'Ville and has a thriving company, Lexis & Friends Entertainment. The queens are always booked and busy in a region of the country people wouldn't expect, that is, unless you're local. Lawson has been selling out his signature Drag Brunch since 2019 at White Pillars, an upscale restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi.

When D'Ville saunters to the middle of the dinning room there is no shortage of excited cheers. But the thing that likely keeps patrons coming back outside of the fabulous song choices and amazing costumes–is the laughter. If you have nothing else while at one of D'Ville's events, you'll have a good time.


Since his first drag brunch across the street from the Biloxi beach, Lawson has expanded his operations to New Orleans, Louisiana, also hosting events in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, which is about an hour north of where he got his start. More drag queens have been added to his roster of entertainers, seemingly leaving Lawson with little time to sleep. The entrepreneur not only hosts drag brunches in two different states, but he also puts on traditional drag events at bars and other entertainment venues.

On top of hosting his own events, Lawson is the show director for Sipps Bar in Gulfport, Mississippi and the New Orleans House of Blues.

Lawson tells the Associated Press, "I will say that I have prided myself on taking the chances and kicking open the doors people would not have expected."

But the Mississippi Gulf Coast is not only a tourist area but home to Keesler Air Force Base and a Naval Construction Battalion Center, creating a unique eclectic culture of its own. White Pillars is able to rake in profits from the partnership they have with Lawson, and Ms. D'Ville gets to show the Bible belt what drag is really about.

“The clientele seemed to really enjoy it, something they’re not used to, which was also one of my goals: to put drag in front of people who have never seen it before, because I have a firm belief that ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds hate, which leads to a society we can’t live in,” Lawson explains to the AP.

The brunches bring in crowds ranging from bridal parties to elderly couples, all well prepared with a stack of one dollar bills to tip the queens. D'Ville's "friends" come from all over the Deep South, from Shreveport, Louisiana to Mobile, Alabama.

They pride themselves on making sure everybody has a good time, mixing up their themes, music and costumes. Some of the costume changes happen before your eyes leaving customers wondering if the drag queens might be a little magic. There's no telling what kind of crowd the queens might encounter: a granny with better knees than a 25 year old dancing with her bottomless mimosa above her head or a group of guy friends laughing after being personally serenaded.

As Lawson's drag queen empire expands taking him to new cities, he still makes time to sell out shows at the White Pillars every third Sunday.

TikTokker Mackenzie Waddell shares a heartfelt story about her daughter.

A mother on TikTok shared a heartfelt moment when her 9-year-old daughter opened up about her self-image concerns, wondering about her appearance as she grows up. The story was a wonderful example of a mother delicately dealing with an issue that far too many young women face. It was also a difficult moment because the conversation brought up the mother's body issues as well.

The conversation happened while the two were clothes shopping at Target. “My 9-year-old’s saying she's fat, and this is because she has to wear adult sizes versus kids 'cause she's really tall, just like me,” Mackenzie Waddell told her 222,000 followers.


“She kept calling herself ‘fat’ and that she had too big of a butt and that the other kids her age don't have to wear adult clothes,” Waddell continued. “I reminded her that I, too, had to wear adult clothes when I was her age 'cause I was really tall just like she is.”

@missmommymack

Im so devastated that she feels that way about herself. 💔

The discussion led to a question that was hard for the mother to hear.

“... she asked me if she was gonna look like me when she grew up. And I asked her, ‘Do you mean big like me? When you grow up?’ And she said, ‘Yes. I'm not trying to be mean mom, but I want to look like Aunt Sarah, not you,’” she recalled.

Her daughter’s remarks hit her right in the heart, but she responded with perfect composure. "I kept a brave face and said, 'As long as you are happy and healthy, and you love yourself, that's all that matters. No matter what size you are,” Waddell said.

The mother was sure not to take it personally, but it still cut close to the bone. “And was I hurt? Yeah, I was. But she didn't mean to hurt me. It just really sucked. Yeah,” she concluded.

The post went viral, receiving over 1.7 million views and over 2,000 comments. The most popular commenter thought that Waddell should tell her daughter to avoid commenting on people’s weight.

"You should tell her she hurt your feelings. She needs to know. You did a great job supporting her in how she feels. She has to learn that skill also," Char8201 wrote.

However, many women responded with nothing but love for how Waddell handled such a challenging situation. "You responded beautifully, momma. She’s still learning and these are the moments where we provide that guidance, even when it hurts," Mavv13 wrote. "Oh mama. Thank god she feels comfortable to talk to you openly," tirrelltribe added.

After the tremendous response to her video, Waddell responded with another post, educating people about how one’s weight doesn’t necessarily mean they eat unhealthy. “A lot of people like to assume that plus-size people don’t know how to eat healthy or are unhealthy. When, in fact, we’re not,” Waddle said.

She added that her daughter lives a healthy lifestyle but avoids having conversations about weight with her because “That’s what traumatized me.”

@missmommymack

Replying to @user3838812846970 she will always be perfect, no matter what.

This article originally appeared on 9.28.23

Democracy

Attorney argues why Louisiana law requiring the 10 Commandments in classrooms is un-American

He says that it's unconstitutional is only the beginning of the problem.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits the establishment of religion.

On June 19, 2024, Louisiana governor Jeff Landry signed a new law requiring that the Ten Commandments be displayed, in “large, easily readable font,” in every public school classroom from kindergarten to state-funded universities. The move prompted an outcry from Americans citing the first amendment clause that the government "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Defenders of the law contend that the Ten Commandments are not solely religious in nature, and the language of the law refers to them as "foundational documents of our state and national government.” But the ACLU and other civil rights organizations immediately announced that they would fight the law in the courts. A similar law in Kentucky was struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980.

Author and attorney Andrew Seidel took to X to argue why the law is not only unconstitutional, but un-American.


Seidel begins by sharing that the first commandment in the specified text that the law requires be posted in classrooms states, "I AM the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

"The point of this bill is to give the false impression that America is a Christian nation," Seidel wrote in his thread. "That's Christian Nationalism."

Seidel says that the first commandment directly conflicts with the founding principles of the United States.

"No law—and this would be a law—can tell an American to worship a god, let alone which god. Americans are free to be godless (as a growing number are), or, if they wish, to worship every god from every holy book."

He pointed to the law's sponsor, Rep. Dodie Horton, stating in her explanation of why she proposed the bill: “I'm not concerned with an atheist. I'm not concerned with a Muslim. I’m concerned with our children looking and seeing what God’s law is."

In addition to the establishment of religion as a constitutional problem, Seidel shared that the Louisiana law uses an edited version of the Ten Commandments in the text that the state specifies.

Seidel explained that there are various translations and interpretations of the Ten Commandments, and that such differences have been the basis of different schisms within Christianity itself, not to mention "as James Madison put it, the 'torrents of blood' that have been spilled, trying to impose a state-sanctioned version of religious truth."

"That's what Louisiana is doing here," Seidel wrote. "Imposing it's version of religious truth on kids in public schools. It's gross."

Seidel then explained the issue with Louisiana's editing of the King James Version of the Ten Commandments, paring it down and removing certain phrases.

"If the state can rewrite one religion’s holy book, it can rewrite yours. Louisiana does not have this power. Nor does it have the power to impose that religious edict on a captive audience of your children."

"This is the worst kind of big government conservatives claim to oppose," Seidel added. "More to the point, this is one reason we have the separation of church and state, and it’s precisely how that separation protects everyone and helps ensure the foundational value of religious freedom. It not only prevents the state from weighing in on religious disagreements, scriptural discrepancies, and theological debates, but also refuses to empower the state to force its preferred scripture or religious doctrine onto we the people."

Imagine if a state legislature with Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist-majority decided that an excerpt from one of those faith's holy books prohibiting the worship of any other deities was required to be posted in every public school classroom. The same people who are pushing for and praising this law probably wouldn't stand for it.

Opponents of the Louisiana law argue the idea that the U.S. was founded on the principles found in the Ten Commandments is negated as soon as you put the first commandment up against the first amendment. The U.S. was largely founded on the principle of religious freedom. The first amendment prohibits the government from telling the people what to believe or whom or how to worship. The first commandment specifically states whom the people must worship, and the second, third and fourth commandment specify how they should worship and there therefore incompatible as government-sanctioned messages.

Virtually no one is arguing that all of the Ten Commandments are bad. Not killing, lying or stealing are standard moral codes for the vast majority of humanity, regardless of religious background. But the others are very much asserting Judeo-Christian religious beliefs, and Seidel says for the government to require that assertion in classrooms is blatantly unconstitutional and un-American as well.

You can find Andrew Seidel's books, "The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American" and "American Crusade: How the Supreme Court Is Weaponizing Religious Freedom" on Amazon.

As a participant in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, Upworthy may earn proceeds from items purchased that are linked to this article, at no additional cost to you.

Sunscreen is one of our most crucial lines of defense against harmful UV rays.

Summer is officially upon us. Which means that, even though sunscreen is recommended every season of the year, nearly everyone is being more mindful about slathering some on before heading outdoors—be it for vanity’s sake, or for cancer prevention. Honestly whatever motive ingrains the habit.


But according to dermatologist Dr. Michael Park, there’s one key spot that most people tend to leave out of their sunscreen regimen, which could leave them susceptible.

“I don’t know if you guessed it, but it’s the ears,” Dr. Park says in a video posted to TikTok.

Park, who worked in a melanoma specialty clinic for over a year, recalls seeing multiple patients with melanoma, a common type of skin cancer, right behind the ear where the sun “beat down on their skin.”

Park also notes the seriousness of melanoma.

@michael.park.md #skincare ♬ original sound - Michael Park, MD

“I don’t know where people got the idea of ‘oh it’s just skin cancer, it's not that big of a deal.’ Y’all, let me make something really clear: melanoma, if not caught early, will kill you. Aggressive squamous cell carcinoma on the head and neck will also kill you,” he says.

Even basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of cancer which in most cases is not fatal, will have to be cut out…along with the skin surrounding it.

Park quips that while no one would probably want large chunks cut out of them, “certain areas that would be way worse than others, and one of those places… is the ears.” Which is why he’s sending out a friendly PSA about the importance of sunscreen in every nook and cranny that might get some sun.

“Unless you want to be a Vincent Van Gogh looking a**, make sure you put sunscreen on your ears,” his video concludes.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. So it’s important not to forget to defend any and all vulnerable areas with every UV blocking products available—from sunscreen every couple of hours to protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, etc.

For more skin care tips from Dr. Park, find him on TikTok.