By Julian Michael
May 26, 2015 – I am what you call a token. I’m the black guy that white people call when they want their group to appear diverse but remain nonthreatening. I’m the gay guy that straight people call when they want their group to appear diverse but remain sports literate. I am an American unicorn — a rarely found, uber-articulate double minority with all the street cred of someone who learned most of his rap lyrics from private school kids yet watched the LA Riots from his living room. I check off so many minority boxes that I don’t actually fit into any of them.
Every group needs one of me in the circle to keep things interesting and let people know which slurs are in season. I’m available for bat mitzvahs, bachelor parties, basketball teams, backyard barbecues, and any other gathering where a chance to do the electric slide or take a smile-free photo may arise. And yes, I know how dated that dance is; but it doesn’t take much to entertain straight white boys. If your situation needs color sans danger, I’m your man.
Being the token friend is not as simple or glamorous as I make it look. Trust me, I’m a pro. I’ve been the raisin in the milk basically all my life. Too many of you are taking the tokens in your life for granted; I know because we talk about it at our secret minority meetings. So help me help you help your minority friend not have to go on strike or kill you. Consider the following the next time you’re out in “mixed” company:
Your minority friend wants to pick the event once in a while. Ok, yes I’ll go play laser tag or check out that indie folk artist at whatever ironic hipster cafe in Silverlake, but can a brotha get some love too? It may come as a shock that even your token blacks have a white person threshold that needs to be reset monthly. If I had a black friend for every time I played “count the black people” at [insert event in my life] I could lead the million man march. I promise not to subject you to (not too m)any Tyler Perry movies. All I’m saying is switch it up every once in a while.
Up your token quota. Invite two of us to your event and/or gathering. Quite frankly, I could use the company. And we could split the responsibility of answering your dumb ass questions. No, you can’t touch my hair. But Jerome here is bald. Why don’t you rub on that chrome dome and see if a genie pops out? When did I turn gay? Well for me it was after a pregnancy scare but I’m pretty sure ol’ Brucy here was a leather daddy from birth. Point is I’m already adding chocolate and rainbow sprinkles to your boring vanilla ice cream, a little swirl of caramel or something might be nice. Don’t add too many tokens though. Just remember this little nursery rhyme: less than three minorities won’t alarm authorities.
I’ve got your back…until I don’t. Having a token friend grants you special access to rare inside information, but with great privilege comes great responsibility. White people, what I’m saying is that you can stop looking at me while singing along to Drake. If you want to say the n-word go right ahead. I know you say it when I’m not around and I’m not the one to check you about it. You officially have permission…. Now, if another black person hears you say it and decides to whoop your ass, I’m joining in and we’ll reverse Rodney King you until one of us scuffs our Air Force Ones. You take your chances when you play the game; it’s like nigger roulette. Straight guys, what I’m saying is that, yes, I will listen to your ridiculous love issues and help you pick out clothes because you need it. I will also strongly suggest you buy anything with a VCL (visible cock line for the uninitiated) whether or not you look good in it. Side note: sweat pants — always a yes, boys. AND I will objectify you exactly how you do the poor, voluptuous wait staff at Hooters. You knew I didn’t want to come here. I don’t care how good the wings are. You came for the breasts. So if you’re hot or I’m tipsy, I’m hitting on you. Deal with it. I’m not saying you’ll have to take a dick, but you will have to take a goddamn compliment.
I make your group spicier. You reduce my chances of getting killed by the police. This is the yin and yang upon which all strong token relationships are built. I suppose it is possible that we could enter into a friendship based on mutual respect, common interest, and human dignity, but I can tell you still really want to touch my hair.
In addition to being a token minority for hire, Julian is also a stand up comedian…for hire. His act has been called everything from “funny” to “very funny.” Catch him regularly throughout LA or stalk him online.
2 thoughts on “Token Advice”
I love this! Good article.