27 Things White People Should Never, Ever Say to Their Black Co-Workers

27 Things White People Should Never, Ever Say to Their Black Co-Workers

We are living in tempestuous times. Tempers are flaring over issues related to politics, race, and gender almost hourly across social media.

While most agree these issues aren’t appropriate to discuss at work, they inevitably do come up. However, in order to keep the peace with their co-workers of color, it’s probably a good idea if our white colleagues tread lightly on matters that are really emotional and of consequence to the black community.

Or, at the very least use the common sense they were born with and not speak on black issues or use offensive language altogether in the office.

We asked our audience to post across Black Enterprise’s social media accounts things white people should never say to their black co-workers. We were flooded with some great suggestions. The below list contains the most repeated offenses our audience cited and our favorites.

If you are white and reading this; be advised, any iteration of the below phrases will give you at the least, the side-eye from your black colleague.

Here are 27 things white people should never say to their black colleagues (posted verbatim from our social media streams):

1. You look like the girl, or you remind me of the girl, or I was thinking about you when I watched the girl on [blank] television last night. #reallytho#wealldonotlookalike

2. If so and so can do it (another black person) then I know you can.

3. You mean you don’t wash your hair every day???

4. “I’m scared to get pulled over too.”

5. Years ago, I told my boss I went to a non-denominational church she goes “you’re not BAPTIST!? I thought black people were Baptist!?”

6. I went to the beach the entire weekend and look, I’m almost as dark as you!

7. You’re different, not like them, the other ones…

8. “You all”

9. You go, girl

10. I love NWA


11. Anything that ends with the term “girlfriend” when you’re not referencing a woman you’re dating.

12. “All Lives Matter – not just black people.”

13. Any phrase starting with, “So, do black people…”

14. “So do you take those out at night? ” “Like how do you wash your hair?”

15. OMG, I’m taking a trip to Africa!” has never engaged in convo before but feels the need to share

16. We’re all discriminated against.

17. I don’t understand why you need to go to a legal conference for black women. If we had a legal conference for white men there would be an issue

18. I have a white co-worker that dates black men. Her and her boyfriend at the time we’re having issues. So, she was venting to me about him and called him a nigger. Nigger this. Nigger that. After regaining my composure, I asked, her why does she think it’s OK to say nigger in my presence, she replied that she should get a pass because she acts black, dates black, and considers herself black.

19. Telling you that you’re best friends with the only other black person that just started on the job when you’ve never met them a day in your life.

20. This happened to my co-worker who is black: Male Co-worker: I want you to be nice today… not sassy

21. When they say something negative about black people and then say, “Not you but…”

22. “You have to understand Trump”

23. NFL players shouldn’t take a knee

24. You’re the prettiest black girl I’ve ever seen,” says the intern

25. Yo,” “Word,” and “Whattup” as a greeting whenever greeting their black co-workers as Ron down the hall does every time he sees me. I’m not reciprocating that foolishness.

26. You should join our company basketball team. (They[‘ve] never seen you play.)

27. Are you real black?” The idiot meant are both of my parents black

Editor’s Note: This article originally published November 2017