Listen, I get it. I’m unlike any girl you’ve ever dated. My curves are a bit more exaggerated. My lips are (naturally) more full. My voice is unabashedly louder. And my skin is much darker and, well, thicker. I am the mythical black girl that many of you encounter in life’s grand race to find “the one.” And like anything else in this life, our future together is uncertain. We may be a part of each other’s stories for one night only or catch heart eyes and last several years (if you’re so lucky). But there’s one certainty that we’re both aware of well before we meet in person for the first time. I totally strip you of your filter. You divulge secrets to me that you’ve never told anyone, let alone a stranger. You feel as though you can say anything to me without judgement. And for the most part, that’s true. You bought tickets to Fyre Festival? I get it. I really like overpriced cheese sandwiches, too. You own a metal detector and mine for gold in your free time? That’s the most creative side hustle I’ve heard about in years! Besides, the average millionaire has seven streams of income. You’re one step closer to financial freedom.

But everyone has their do-not-cross-or-I-will-judge-you line. And though I’m not triggered by much, the color of my skin coupled with the truth serum that is my personality make me more prone to defending my line of judgement than the average person. This is especially true when it comes to dating. And though crossing the black girl’s line may seem scary (since we face the unfortunate stereotype of becoming monsters when angry), believe me when I say that through all of the side-eye and robust hand gestures, I am here to educate you on why and how to never cross this line.

Now, there are some offenses that, while minor, still need to be discussed, it seems. For example, do not spend the first half of our first date talking at me about what hip-hop artists you’re listening to. I’ve had the same seven Ariana Grande songs on repeat for the past six months, so I’m not exactly a hip-hop lexicon and definitely cannot relate. Also, before you let the old “you look like [insert random black woman who’s currently making waves in pop culture]” fumble off of your lips, be honest with yourself. Do I actually look like her, or should you stop and take a sip of your drink? Chances are, the answer is the latter.

Then there are the more serious offenses that I’ve learned need to be called out and shut down with the grace and precision of a Navy SEAL. My first encounter with this particular type of situation was during the 2016 Super Bowl. My lord and savior Beyoncé had just debuted “Formation” during Coldplay’s otherwise snooze of a halftime show. Now, I’m not here to unpack the social importance of that song, but this is what you should know: It holds a strong cultural significance for black women. It was an iconic performance, but I’m not an idiot. A powerful black woman went on live television during the most-watched event of the year and called for women everywhere to band together and fight patriarchy, all while serving modern-day Black Panther realness. I get it. That was some scary shit. White men were shooketh to the core. White men including my boyfriend at the time, who after seeing the excitement and pride induced by this performance said, “You know, Beyoncé should really just stick to singing and dancing and stay out of politics. It’s not a good look for her. It’s actually very irresponsible.”

Well I’ll be damned. There he was, the ever-elusive black-woman-voice-silencer. I’d only seen this character in action on Fox News and in my Twitter comments. If side-eye could kill, his frat brothers would’ve held a candlelit vigil in his honor that night. He crossed the line. Judgement Day had come. He wasn’t around for much longer after that fateful day. Neither was the guy who “debated” that the country only trusted Obama’s presidency because he was half-white. Nor the one who asked me why there isn’t a “White History Month,” too. And especially not the one who “joked” that the only reason I got my job was because of affirmative action. All of those men were immediately cancelled. Excommunicated. But not before they were educated.

Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I’m not here to take away your First Amendment rights, so you can have a seat if that’s what you’re thinking. However, when your opinion is rooted in the belief that marginalized voices should be muted for the sake of your comfort, you’re wrong. You’re wrong for making me feel as though my presence only holds value when it makes you feel superior. That I’m only useful when I’m silent. That my voice and brain are severe threats to your obviously fragile manhood. And whether or not you realize it, that’s exactly how your unsolicited assessments of my culture make me feel. So let’s make everyone’s lives easier and keep those critiques at the farthest, most desolate bay you can find.

Oh! And, no. No, I do not have a fried chicken recipe for your mom’s Sunday dinner, so please do not text me asking for one or I will side-eye emoji you to an early grave. Thanks in advance.