What Being The Only Black Friend Is Like

by Doyin Oyeniyi

Buzzfeed Yellow's recent video on what it's like to be the only black friend in a group pretty much hits the nail of the head. Since the average white person only has one black friend, it's not rare for black people to realize they're the only black person in a group of friends. Sometimes the realization comes when your friends are talking about traveling back in time (NOPE) and when they want you to explain the word "fleek" to them. Of course, not every black person can relate to this, but it’s pretty true to some of my experiences.

Most of the situations in the video are humorous, but a few touch on conflicts that black people face in friendships with non-black friends. Luckily for me, encountering racial differences with friends has either led to enlightening discussions ("Ok, here's why you need to stop saying your hair is 'nappy'") or understanding who my real friends are (and who needs to go). I'm open to talking about my experiences, but I make sure to address microaggressions and let friends know that I'm a person who's black and not a stereotype or an ambassador for an entire race.

Here are moments from this video I've experienced:

"How do I know if my house is a trap house?"

Or just in general questions about black culture, racism, anything. Like I said, I’m not opposed to talking about and sharing my experiences, but being somebody’s only black friend doesn’t make me the ambassador for black people. And I try to make that clear in my responses when I start out with “from my understanding/experience” and finish with “that’s just what I think.” And because being open to a conversation one day doesn't mean I'm always open to it, I sometimes just respond with "why are you asking me that?"

"They know I suck at basketball, right?"

And volleyball. And soccer. And anything that requires coordination. I try to make it very clear that the only sport I’m good at is the one that requires me to just put one foot in front of the other: running.

"Goodbye would have just been fine."

If we haven’t established that kind of relationship where we have our own greeting, regular greetings are enough. And even if we have our own greeting, that doesn’t mean you can use that for other black people! I refuse to be your black friend who you try to use to excuse your offensive behavior.

"Am I 'Honey Mocha' or 'Mocha Honey'?"

Taylor Weidman/Getty Images News/Getty Images

I don’t wear make up often, and the variety of options for lighter skin tones compared to just a few options for black women hasn’t been very encouraging.

"So good, so good!"

Sometimes I've had to get hype to a song by myself because my friends just didn't get it. And like in the video, it goes both ways. I was at karaoke with a group of friends and "Sweet Caroline" came on. I’d only heard the song with Puck sang it on Glee, so when my friends chorused “so good, so good!” I had no idea what was going on. But by the second time it came around, I just went along with it.

Images: BuzzFeed Screengrab ; Getty