10 Things My Black Paranoia Saved Me From

Karl Walter/Getty Images for Coachella
Karl Walter/Getty Images for Coachella

Hi. I’m black and I’m a man. That makes me a black man (by default), and that means I’m paranoid as fuck. Like, I’m pretty sure you’re plotting against me right now, so I’m looking at you crazy. Or at least you might could be. In fact, who is you? Is you is or is you ain’t my constituency?

Thing is, if you ARE plotting against me, then I’m not wrong. Which makes me right. See, if I’m right, I’m right, but when I’m wrong, I’m still right because I could have been wrong.

I don’t have any hard science behind this, but I’m pretty sure the thing that keeps most black folks alive is our paranoia. The minute you let your guard down is when you get caught slippin’. Shit, I’m currently working from a co-work space that I pay to inhabit with a bunch of other people who also pay to inhabit, and I see folks walk away from their laptops all the time to use the bathroom or go take a call.


Not me, fam. I don’t know these people. I think these niggas tryna set me up ... maybe I’m just paranoid. But they’re trying to lull me into the sense of false security that if I wanted to leave my laptop unattended on a bathroom run, I could, and my belongings would be in the same place they were when I got back.

Bruh. Noap. Nope. KNOWP. I pack up my whole shit when I go to the bathroom. Maybe they won’t get me that first time, but they’re coming for me. Who? Nigga, I don’t know. Them. Shit, I take my hand of cards with me to the bathroom when I play spades just in case you want to take an accidental peek at what I’m holding. I know you, but do I really know you?

See, my black paranoia has gotten me out of a lot of bad situations that I never got into because paranoid. Sure, I am able to go about my day with smiles and cuddles, but just know, bro, I’m looking at you plotting. On what? I don’t know, and maybe you ain’t doing it today, but what about tomorrow? Can you guarantee that? Prolly not.

Which is my point: My paranoia be outchea saving lives. And saving me from other things. Such as? Such as:

1. Losing That Hand of Spades

Like I said, you know you want to know what cards I’m holding. If I need to tinkle, I’m taking my cards with me JUST so you don’t get tempted by the urge to be a bad person and thereby sabotage my hand. Bomaye, Ali.


2. Food Poisoning

One time at band camp (really a restaurant in Washington, D.C.), I ate fish tacos. Then I almost died for three straight days. Last time I was at a restaurant that had fish tacos, I was like, naw, fam. I don’t know them fishes. They might be the poisonous kind. Maybe that restaurant that sold me bad fishes (yes, fishes, damn it) was a one-time bad experience, but maybe it’s also NOT. Why find out? Down with the fishes.


3. Parking Tickets

Now, I don’t know what department the parking-enforcement folks fall under, but they dress like cops to me. So they the feds. But, like, local feds. I don’t know, man—they be looking for my car to ticket. Sometimes it’s my fault, but is it ever really my fault? Questions that need answers. This is why I Uber Lyft. For the revolution.


4. Fake Jordans

The Air Jordan resale market is a living, breathing organism. And I really wanted me some 10s. But when I found me some 10s, they were regular-priced (like $160) when everybody else had to pay more like $250. Did I come up on some real ones? I’ll never know, bro. But I don’t want to be that dude rocking fake Jordans even if I don’t really know. I’d rather not. See also: Yeezys. I’ll just wear my Chucks.


5. Certain, or at Least Plausible Death

Bungee jumping? Nope. I break rubber bands all the time. Like, I know that some black people engage in such activities, but not me. Just saying, what if that shit breaks? It has to break on SOMEBODY. That’s the law of shit that exists: It’s got to break sometime. I’ll pass. And I realize airplanes go down, but have you ever tried to walk to Los Angeles? Shit’s far ... like Africa.


6. Certain, or at Least Plausible Death II

I remember the time when we fell in love that I was walking along the street in College Park, Md., and saw a legion of what looked to be white frat boys standing on the sidewalk about 100 yards in front of me. I said, “No, ma’am,” crossed the street and went about my day while keeping them in my periphery, just because you never really know with a big-ass gang of white dudes if somebody might not get stabbed, shot, killed or hurt. With police support. Naw, boo boo. It’s why I stay away from large crowds of white men and women as a rule.


7. Certain, or at Least Plausible Death III

White dude in a building I used to work in offered me chips once. He said they were “good.” I told him no thanks. He insisted. I insisted the other way. This went on for a solid eight seconds. Eventually I just did a dive-and-roll out of the elevator and ran to my office. I don’t know him, yo. Fuck his chips. They could have been laced with cyanide.


8. Bad Guacamole

I don’t eat guacamole because I don’t trust green stuff. So I’m always safe from bad guacamole.


9. Bad Investments

I always make sure I don’t have enough money to invest it all into a Ponzi scheme. Sure, I’m not rich, but I’m not in articles talking about all of the money I lost, either. Hmmm. Hmmmmm.


10. The Sunken Place

I don’t drink tea. At all. Especially not with old white women. Ever. I just didn’t know I was saving myself.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter



I wish I had read this article last night, would’ve prevented me from eating a peanut butter and raw onion sandwhich. I’m so mad at myself for giving into that white nonsense. Never again.