- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Eniola Oluwole was surprised and a little hurt when a close friend told him he wasn't like other black people: He was "cool."
Mr. Oluwole didn't know how to tell his white friend that the comment bothered him, until he saw www.blackpeopleloveus.com.
The satirical Web site, introduced in October, portrays a fictional white couple, Sally and Johnny, proclaiming how well-liked they are by blacks, and offers testimonials from their black "friends." New York comedian Chelsea Peretti and her brother, Jonah Peretti, created the site to poke fun at how some whites can be patronizing toward minorities.
Though its weapon is humor, the site has provoked serious discussions and thousands of e-mail messages about the ever-sensitive topic of race relations.
Some people, like Mr. Oluwole, 25, have sent the site's Web address to friends hoping to initiate a conversation on race. Mr. Oluwole said he thought it would be a nonconfrontational way to give his white friend "the opportunity to see how out of place it is to say that."
The site uses "humor as that little bridge," said the Bostonian.
Some unamused Web surfers say the site is offensive because it stereotypes blacks and whites and pokes fun at a serious topic.
Others feel the stereotypes it portrays play out in real life. On the site, a black "friend" recounts how Johnny "always says, 'I'm not a racist; one of my best friends is Black!'"
Another black character observes how Johnny is "generous enough to remark upon how 'articulate' I am," and a third notes how Sally says, "You're so cool, you're different, you're not like other Black people!'"
Diane Johnson, who is black, sent the site to Mr. Oluwole. She identified with its dig at whites who displayed unusual fascination with black people's hair.
"I could put myself in a lot of these different situations. I'm sick and tired of people treating me like I'm a show poodle," said Miss Johnson, 30, of Framingham, Mass.
After Manuel Rivera posted the site in an online forum, an Italian-American friend told him he was offended by it.
"The way they portrayed black people on that site was racist to the point of being disgusting," said the friend, New Yorker Dominick DiGiorgio, 25. "I just feel ashamed in general for people that can't understand the idea of living together in harmony."
The two exchanged e-mails, sharing their views on race.
"The way I see it, it's not offensive at all. It really is like that," said Mr. Rivera, 20, who told an online forum that he encountered discrimination as a black person living in Puerto Rico.
Miss Peretti, a stand-up comic and free-lance writer, has been surprised at the buzz the site has inspired about 4,000 people have sent e-mail messages.
Mr. Peretti, research and development director at New York-based new media arts nonprofit Eyebeam, is using the site as part of a project to track the spread of ideas on the Internet.
"I didn't anticipate getting hate mail from neo-Nazis and angry or hurt black people," said Miss Peretti, 24, but she did realize "whenever you talk about race, there's always going to be a pretty charged reaction, especially if you're using humor."


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