Op-Ed: Why I Have A 'No New White Friends' Rule

by Virginia Duan
Originally Published: 
A young couple with a red prohibition sign over them
Scary Mommy and George Marks/Retrofile/Getty

Dear white people I just met trying to friend me on social media:

As a general rule and life philosophy, I do not make new white friends. It’s not a new rule. I’ve tried to live by it for a few years and frankly, it’s never steered me wrong. Every time I break it, I regret.

I’m full up on white people, thanks. I have spent approximately four decades making white friends, and quite frankly, I’ve had enough.

It’s nothing against you — or at least nothing personal. It’s just that I’m so tired.

I’m so tired of white folks — white men especially, but I rarely friend men because my quota of male friends is full, too — so this is mostly directed to white women. It requires so much energy, emotional labor, and investment — and years, really, to determine if you’re a white person who is trustworthy.

The way some of you take up so much space and make everything about you and your feelings — trust me. It’s in your best interest not to be friends with me.

I am not a nice person.

I am not a polite Asian.

I do not cater to whiteness.

Look, you might say. You never asked to be white. You don’t deserve to be painted with a wide brush of stereotypes. You’re not asking me to cater to you. You never asked to be treated differently. You’re an individual and white people are not a monolith and it’s not fair.


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I know. I don’t care.

Sucks, doesn’t it? Oh, well.

I see color. I know that color is just one of a myriad of intersectional identities that affect how we experience and operate in this world.

You don’t need to ask me to cater to whiteness — I’ve been catering to whiteness my entire life. This entire world caters to whiteness.

I’m sure you’re probably very nice — but I don’t need more nice white women. Nice white women stay silent when POC — especially Black women — suffer and tell us all lives matter.

I want people who are actively fighting anti-Blackness.

So unless multiple of my trusted WOC friends have vetted you, I really don’t want you in my life. I can’t risk you exposing my POC friends to harm.

I don’t want to be tagged in a comment or post and have to go through the effort of seeing what foolishness you displayed when you inevitably show your ass online and I have to deal with the fallout by association.

We have no interstitial moments that allow me to find the wherewithal to extend grace, teach — or at least, redirect — whatever white nonsense that erupts from your keyboard. And really, even with my current white friends, the list of people I’d take the time and energy to do so is very, very short.

They have had to earn it.

You and I have no history; I don’t know you.

You are a liability. A ticking time bomb. A buried mine.

Don’t like that white reputation? That sweeping generalization about your people? Maybe do a better job about policing your people’s whiteness, then.

Oh, not all white people? You don’t have a people? Sorry, friend. Yes, all white people. And yes, you have a people.

Welcome to the world of representing your entire race or identity. POC and other marginalized folks have been doing that since forever. It’s a shitty club that no one wants entrée to but them’s the breaks.

For the record, I fully support POC — especially Black women — enforcing similar boundaries. Whatever it takes for folks to protect their space. If Black women implement a No New Non-Black Friends Rule, I understand and agree (not that they need my approval or sanction). I support these protective measures even if I am implicated as unsafe.

I know that though Asian folks like the late activist Yuri Kochiyama have been good allies, we also haven’t. We’ve shown our asses a whole fucking lot. We’ve bought into the evil of anti-Blackness and have been manipulated and used as a wedge by the real enemy: the lie of white supremacy. We are both oppressed and oppressor.

So, yeah. I get it.

Naturally, my No New White Friends rule has crossed over into other areas as I have actively decolonized my life. As a benefit of de-centering whiteness and cis-maleness from my worldview, I have transformed the media, theology, books, arts, and entertainment I consume.

My brain is rewiring and thus, I fiercely guard my online spaces — especially since during the pandemic, my online spaces are my world.

I find that I don’t miss white people at all.

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