Remember how it was such a big deal when Neo (Keanu Reeves) finally realized he was “The One” in The Matrix? Take all of the power and acclaim from that feeling, replace it with patronizing stereotypes, add a dash of microaggression and you have, “The Black One,” also known as the Token Black Friend.
TV Tropes.org breaks down the concept of the “Token Black Friend”:
Your black best friend is sassy. She’s never too busy to lend an ear, or come along on your wacky schemes. She is flawless to the point of being unreal. (Until it’s time to save the day of course. That’s what white heroes are for.) Is it because she has no love life, no apartment, and no family? It’s hard to say, but there’s one thing for sure. She has a cell phone, and never ignores your calls.
Note: This is a black character whose role either A) revolves almost entirely around a white character or B) serves as a conscious effort for a white character/writer to appear inclusive. Simply being black as well as friends with a white character does not automatically make a character this trope. A black character who’s shown to be just as relevant as their white counterparts does not count as this trope. Black characters with their own story, their own distinguished identity and goals; characters who undergo personal growth shouldn’t be listed. In addition, black people in Real Life should definitely not be listed. Living beings do not exist in accordance to another person based on ethnicity.
There are several examples of the “token black friend” throughout film history. There’s Dionne from Clueless (who actually became a beloved character and the first reason why we have to pour a little out for the former Stacey Dash). There’s Chastity (Gabrielle Union) in 10 Things I Hate About You. And then there’s probably one of the most egregious examples, obvious plot device Louise (Jennifer Hudson) hoopin’ and hollerin’ over that ugly-ass, not-at-all-timeless LV purse in the first Sex in the City movie.
In a brilliant TikTok video produced by and starring @unpaulished (also have to note that this is a clever username), we’re taken on an opening montage journey through the life of a (white) teen movie star from the 2000s, who happens to be late for class. Typical!
The highlight of the video comes toward the end when the token black friend, dubbed “The Black One” gives their sassy head nod of approval and the lead star responds with, “Thanks, Black One.”
Black Twitter definitely appreciated it, with “THANKS BLACK ONE” landing on the Twitter trending board.
By the way, it is completely logical to assume this quote was from a Trump press conference, but alas, it wasn’t!
Well done, @unpaulished. Well done.