Illustrations: Moya Garrison-Msingwana

A Definitive Guide to the Modern Bro, From Ironic Rap to Woker-Than-Thouness

White dudes think they see themselves in me. They have no idea.

Scott Woods
Published in
8 min readDec 6, 2019

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting

Bros are bro-ing me to death. Perhaps literally.

Because I deign to engage in activities not typically associated with Black people, such as ordering Negronis and listening to live blues music, I frequently find myself in stand-offs with well-meaning White Bros. These are not the aggro Bros of yore. These are modern Bros: erudite, brimming with hobbies, and smilers all.

They are not racist; I know this because all of their otherwise racist jokes and observations are prefaced this way. Yet, by the end of our interactions, I have clearly lost something. I am less than I was, more frazzled, set on edge. In a setting that I could have sworn was social a minute ago, I have been turned into the day-job version of myself again.

Bros own everything and they know it — the world is their birthright — but the modern Bro seeks to make me feel as if he is on my side anyway. I, who in the words of the immortal Luther Vandross, have nothing. (This is a song which a modern Bro would immediately chide me for, launching into an explanation of why I should recant the song I have loved all my life and instead take the far-superior 1963 Ben E. King version into my life as Lord and savior, presumably because it existed before 1970 and sounds like something Quentin Tarantino would use in a film. They already own everything concrete, so my tastes are now up for grabs.)

Today’s Bros are presented as being more interested in aesthetics than in oppressing the world. Upon inspection, nothing could be further from the truth.

You would think Bros would just ignore me. I’m Black, after all, and male to boot. But I have a flair that compels random engagement. When the weather warrants, I wear a Doctor Who scarf (fourth generation, obviously). I sometimes wear canvas sneakers with books painted on them. I have a respectable collection of non-rack Prince T-shirts…



Scott Woods
Writer for

Writer and poet holding down Columbus, Ohio