Perfectly Normal Things Black Men Just Know Not To Do Because America Is Racist As Fuck


We're all aware of the potential criminality if caught driving while Black. And shopping while Black. And walking while Black. And walking with your hands in your pockets while Black. And waiting for a bus while Black. And sitting while Black. And eating while Black. And tipping while Black. And…well, you get the point.


But, while the prospect of getting stopped, questioned, and even arrested for literally doing nothing illegal is a reality for Black people, it's also rare. It happens, but it doesn't happen to every single one of us everyday. What's considerably more common, though, are the behavior modifications many of us make because we're aware of us being walking suspects; things we might want to do but either hesitate doing or just don't do at all because we're aware of what might happen if we do.

For instance…

1. Assist random White women in public

Raise your hand if you ever saw a White woman struggling with her groceries, thought "She looks like she needs a hand. Maybe I should help"…and then thought "Shit. If I do help she might think I'm trying to steal her bags."


2. Jog at night

Shit, most of the Black joggers I know won't even chance jogging at dusk.

3. Actually, jog/run anywhere except for places like gyms and basketball courts that are explicitly reserved for jogging and running

You know the cliche romantic comedy scene, where the guy runs through the airport or the train station to connect with his love? Let's just say there's a reason why you'll never see Anthony Mackie in those roles.

4. Go to dressing rooms unassisted

"No, I don't really need your help. I just called you over here because I want you to see that I'm taking exactly three shirts into the dressing room."


5. Ask non-Black people for directions

Because if you're Black and driving around lost and you slow down to ask someone on the street for directions, they just might think you're doing a drive-by.


6. Buy things without receipts

Because you never know when you might be forced to prove where you got that doughnut from.


7. Get angry at work

There's a reason why every Black man in a position of authority in a predominately White organization — from CEOs and NFL coaches to school principals and Presidents — is known for being "mild-mannered" and "level-headed."


8. Eat chicken and/or watermelon at office potlucks and/or BBQs

Which sucks because everyone loves watermelon. And there's nothing worse than loving watermelon but feeling a certain way about showing your love of watermelon because you know everyone assumes you love watermelon. Which sucks because EVERYONE LOVES WATERMELON!!!


9. Go hiking

Because hiking usually involves traveling to places not located in actual cities. And by "not located in actual cities" I mean "we've spent a couple hundred years escaping from."


10. Dress down

Because "casual Friday" is a another way of saying "that day of the week where I wear jeans and sneakers and everyone thinks I'm the pizzaman."

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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Have my hands visible at all times while shopping, especially if I'm wearing a big purse/bag. And I'll limit the number of times I stick my hands in and out of said bag I'm carrying.