Dear Black Men

Fall 2015, Sergio Nazaire

By: Sergio Nazaire, SY ’18, for the Fall 2015 Issue (PDF version)

If you’re black, you know: you know that the America you live in is quite an interesting experience. If you’re anything but, especially white, assume that you can live your life with much less worry. But it’s okay, black men, there’s still hope for us. I’ve developed several strategies for living our lives so as to ensure our success and safety in the public social sphere and still allow us to embrace our blackness in private.

Presence

Keep in mind that as you walk down the street, your presence will elicit very different responses from the white people in your general vicinity. Additionally, the direction and speed at which you travel will have as much, if not more, of an effect on their response. Consider this situation in terms of a combination of several variables, the variables being blackness, direction, and speed at which you walk or run (I advise you, however, not to run — you may attract the attention of the men in blue). We define one’s blackness as how dark his skin is. Unfortunately, gentlemen, the darker you are, the tougher managing this situation is going to be. But that’s okay, there is plenty we can do to compensate! The key here is to always walk slowly and calmly, doing your best not to sway too much to one side or another. Like a T-Rex, those who fear you will be more prone to spotting you if you are in motion — avoid fast, sudden movements.

Direction is defined as approaching or distancing — either from behind or in front. Your visibility to white people is an important component of your social success and safety, and as such it should always be maintained. Thus, the best options of foot travel are to walk in front of white people, and toward and past them without making eye contact. You must not, I repeat, do not approach white people from behind unless it is absolutely necessary. In the event of such an incident, you must make sure to make your strides fluid and calm, look up at all times, sing Justin Bieber, and smile so as to make clear that you are not a threat. It’s a simple concept, and you’re in control of the variables — once you master the techniques, you’re ready to go out into the world.

Gastronomy

Let’s chat a little about food. There is this “accepted truth” that all black people love any form of grape drinks, fried chicken, and watermelon. An important thing that one must keep in mind as well is that every stereotype is thought to be rooted in some truth. This is why we must take precautionary measures to ensure that people do not assign these stereotypic labels — as true as they may be.

If someone offers you a cup of grape soda, politely say no and ask for some Diet Coke. Black people never ask for diet anything, so this will really throw them off. If you are ever offered a slice of watermelon, respectfully decline and request some diced cantaloupe. This fruit is always served at high-end gatherings along with triangularly sliced cheese and cured meats. Naturally such a request would allow you to establish yourself, in the mind of all the white people around you, as an individual who would go to such gatherings, thus creating the illusion that you are less black than you really are. And most importantly, never go to a Kentucky Fried Chicken and never accept fried food, especially chicken, from anyone. A great evasion is to use the “healthy eater” excuse — make clear that you do not want to ingest the unnecessary saturated and trans fats from the oils used to fry the food. This always works because white people respect individuals who are health-conscious. If it has been some time since you indulged in your favorite meal however, it is always safe to say that you are having a cheat day. America loves the concept of a cheat day, and for many, cheat days are every day!

Fashion

Finally, let’s address dress. Black people, unfortunately for you, America has several (if not plentiful) preconceptions of you that are almost always applied in unison when this particular one is present: dressing “black.” Plain and simple, you must wear nothing but tailored suits, turtlenecks, and polished shoes, and wear any hairstyle that is not an afro or dreads — or else you run the risk of being considered what political correctness officials are now calling “a nigga.” To be seen as qualified to succeed, you must not wear your pants down low; you must keep your shirts fitted, not baggy; and you must walk like a white venture capitalist, what any motivational speaker would describe as: power, conviction, and class. If the following simple rule is followed — no Jordans, no bandanas, and no sports jerseys — you will be off to a magnificent first impression.

This rule is especially important, gentlemen, remember — for some strange reason, like the others, it only applies to black men.

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