Stop Saying ‘She Is Black, But…’

Unless you’re ready to defend racist beliefs

Bridgette L. Hylton


Photo: Nadine Shaabana/Unsplash

It happened as recently as a few weeks ago. Someone White, liberal, and who I generally agree with on many things, was discussing something relating to Blackness live on the local NPR station. She was explaining the difference between Roxbury, a Black neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts which is a hub of Black culture within the commonwealth, but perhaps best known as the birthplace of New Edition outside of it, and West Roxbury, another neighborhood in Boston that is nearly 80% White. As you can imagine, because of their similar names, the two neighborhoods are often mistaken for one another despite not being contiguous and having vastly different demographics. While describing Roxbury, she said something to the effect of, “It’s a Black neighborhood, but it has some of the most beautiful architecture…” before her cohost cut her off as he often does in their normally playful and familiar banter.

Photo: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

I felt that “but” in the pit of my stomach. It churned as disappointment and anger. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered the ominous “but.” Once in South Africa when I was in my early twenties, one of our hosts referenced a…