Black people aren’t your fetish

When you think of the word “fetish,” the first thought that comes to mind is probably sexual in nature. But fetishes can be more than just a bedroom kink. It’s possible to have a race fetish, or a desire to be involved with a person of another race, whether it’s a friendship or a sexual relationship, strictly because of their race.

This might sound taboo, but it’s something most black people have been on the receiving end of. I personally didn’t know I was someone’s fetish until it was too late.

The type of race fetish I experienced appeared in the form of me being the “token black friend,” “the only African-American in a group of white people,” someone who is “relatable to them and they feel safe around him or her,” according to Urban Dictionary.

I was friends with a few white people in high school and never really thought twice about why I was their only black friend. But they liked me and that was all that mattered.

We would do homework together, walk to our next classes together and even sat at lunch together sometimes. But the friendship never extended past that. I was never invited to anything that happened outside of school like parties or just to hang out. 

Always feeling like you’re so close to being accepted into a friend group and not knowing why you never are is miserable. But I now know why. Being the token black friend is not fun.

I realized they didn’t keep me around to laugh with me — they kept me around to laugh at me. They were criticizing every part of me, and I knew that. In response, I wore my hair straight more than I wore it naturally curly just so I didn’t look “too black” for them.

One of my white friends told me she was scared of me even though I had never acted violent toward her, or anyone for that matter. If those were not big enough signs I was the token black friend, one of my white friends was kind enough to tell me. This was in the form of a joke of course, but I heard the truth behind it. 

During this time in my life, I didn’t know that I was putting up with this treatment because it was disguised as “friendship.” Once I saw these people’s true colors, it hurt, but it allowed me to grow and become more aware of the company I keep. 

Black people should not be sought out and kept around solely for the color of their skin. They should not be in your life to satiate your fetish.

Nieshha Davis said in an article for Ravishly said: “For many non-melanated folks, admiring black culture is easy, loving and caring for black people, not so much.”

Don’t be one of those “non-melanated folks” that plays a part in the everlasting ploy to tear black people down. Learn to embrace someone else’s culture not by trying to mirror or mock them but to make them feel as if they can be themselves around you, in spite of their different cultural backgrounds.