Entertainment & Culture
The Top 10 Black Neighbors Of All Time

As America slowly integrates, it is becoming less and less likely that we have Black neighbors. Unless you live on an estate in the hills of Colorado, everyone has to have a neighbor. But who are the best Black neighbors of all time? Once again NegusWhoRead assembled a panel of  researchers, academics and the women who always win the argument at the beauty salon to rank them. After much debate, a few intense altercations and one incident when Ayanna pulled a straight razor and threatened to cut another panelist for calling Living Single overrated, we now present NegusWhoRead’s ranking of the greatest Black neighbors of all time.

10. Kyle & Overton Every time I watched Living Single I don’t know if Kyle and Overton were the dumbest or the smartest neighbors of all time. First of all, why would Overton date the woman living in the same building without having sex with her,  and (because he’s the handyman) Synclaire was basically his boss! Kyle even tried to show him how it’s done. Kyle had a hot, sweaty on/off relationship with Max, and still ran the streets. Aside from showing realistic platonic relationships between Black men and women, Living Single is definitive proof of how Y. P. Pull steal everything and reward us with the Great Value, stripped down version:

They stole jazz and gave us Kenny G.

They stole rock & roll and gave us Rick Astley.

They stole hip hop and gave us Macklemore.

They stole Living Single and gave us Friends.

Oh, you didn’t know? One of the biggest unanswered questions in Hollywood is “why didn’t the producers of Living Single” sue the producers of friends for stealing the show and creating a White version. But we know. We all know. Ask Elvis.

9. Monica Wright – If you want to see any woman over 30’s heart melt, just play that scene from Love & Basketball where Sanaa Lathan tells Omar Epps she wants to play him for his heart. I’m getting weepy just typing this.

Everyone has lived next door to someone they’ve had a crush on since kindergarden, and Quincy McCall is our hero, because he finally ended up with the girl. Most of the time she ends up with the dope dealer at the end of the block or wants to circle back around and show interest after she has three kids from the no-good catain of the football team and you play for the Lakers.

The only disappointing thing about Love & Basketball  is: if Quincy really played in the NBA, they really missed a golden comedic opportunity. I think, in the final scene, Quincy should’ve crossed Monica over, reverse dunked on her, and said:

“C’mon Moni. I do love you, but you gon’ get this work!”

8. Mother In every Black neighborhood there is an old lady who is always good for some candy (either peppermint, or Werthers Originals). In My neighborhood, we called her “Mother.” No one ever really knew how old Mother was, because my mom says Mother was already old when she was a young girl. If you are from an old school family in an old school neighborhood, then the “mother” of your block was also endowed with universal whipping privileges. I believe the problem with America, and Black youth in general, is that there are fewer “Mothers” around with the respect and parentally-authorized beating rights  to keep kids straight.

You know what they say: “It takes a village to raise a child, and a ‘Mother” to whip him.”

Sometimes they leave out that last part.

7. Soooondra – I think one of the most underrated fathers of all time is Lester from 227. Lester’s love for Mary was unwavering and true, and Mary knew it, because most women wouldn’t let their friend swirl around their husband in tight skirts jiggling titties and booty all day and all night. But Mary trusted Lester and his mustache, and Lester was a faithful husband and father.

Nah, Lester probably knew Pearl would tell.

Her ol’ gossiping ass.

6. Steve Urkel – If I was Carl Winslow, I would’ve made Laura at least go out with Steve a few times. He might not have been charming or cute, but he had a bright future ahead of him. Shit, this niga created a robot when he was still in high school! I think I heard Steve is working as a lead engineer for Google, now. I bet Laura is still at home living with Carl.

Forget pimps, it’s hard outchea for a nerd!

5. The Fine-ass neighbor Heeeeeey Miss Parker! Whether you are male or female, we’ve all had a neighbor who was so fine, but was a little too old, good-looking our out of our league. They even call her “the girl next door!” Maybe it was your friend’s older sister. Maybe the captain of the football team lived next door to you. Maybe Lester is reading this thinking about Sondra.

The worst part of it is–in your head–that neighbor will always be fine as hell to you. Don’t ever ruin that dream. Don’t go home for class reunion, because you’ll find out that the high school jock you had a crush on, gained 20 lbs, lost all his teeth and works at the local paper factory because he’s trying to clear up the child support cases from his eleven kids.

That’s why I don’t accept any friend requests from anyone I had a crush on in high school or college. Jesse Jackson told me to keep hope alive.

4. Wilona Woods – Wilona Woods is the prototypical Black neighbor, because everyone has had a neighbor like her. If your mama’s best friend lived in your neighborhood, then you know how it was living next to Wilona. She was basically a combination of a fine-ass neighbor and a “mother,” who was always at your house, talking with your mama, borrowing two eggs. You couldn’t do anything bad in your neighborhood, because you know Wilona would tell your mama, and her kids basically become the equivalent of your cousins. (Why do you think Michael never tried to holla at Penny? I mean, Janet Jackson was living across the hall! Well, we know). That’s right. It is an unwritten rule in Black neighborhood that if you live next to someone for more than 10 years, you become honorary playcousins.

Except Thelma.

I would’ve tried to holla.

3. Smokey – If you don’t think Friday is the funniest Black movie ever made, you should stop reading this right now. I don’t want your patronage. Oftentimes our friendships are not based on mutual interests or personality types–they are mostly based on proximity. We’ve all had playmates, buddies and lifelong friendships built from relationships we made growing up in the same neighborhood. When you are young, there is nothing like having a friend who lives just down the street or around the corner.

And Smokey is the greatest homeboy ever. The thing about male friendships is that they are unbreakable and unshakeable. A real friend will roll with you through thick and thin, even if you plan on doing something stupid like sitting in the yard smoking weed all day, or–even stupider–robbing Deebo. Smokey was down for Craig, even as he was kidding him about losing his job on his day off. Even when he was roasting him for having peanut butter with no jelly and ham with no burger. That is a real homeboy. Unfiltered truth and loyalty. That’s all you need from a friend.

2. Nina Simone/Malcolm X –  It is a little-known fact that Nina Simone’s family and Malcolm X’s family were next door neighbors in Mount Vernon, NY. Malcolm’s grandchildren says they hung out at each other’s house, listened and played music together and even partied.

I bet they sat on the porch at night telling stories about how they pissed off White people and strategized on freedom, resistance and afro picks. I have not taken a formal survey, but I am going to pronounce this as the “wokest” neighborhood ever!

1. George Jefferson – Maybe you didn’t know that the greatest Black character in television history was actually a spinoff. Before he moved on up to the East Side to a deluxe apartment in the sky, George Jefferson was Archie Bunker’s neighbor on All in The Family. 

I believe Sherman Helmsley’s George Jefferson is the most groundbreaking character ever on TV. First of all, he had a Black-owned business, he hired only people of color, He married a woman with a deep, Luther Vandross-like, baritone voice and he hated Y. P. Pull. George Jefferson was calling people “cracker” on prime time, network television in 1975! As a matter of fact, if you’ve ever been a minority in an all-white neighborhood, George showed you the way! I treat all my neighbors like George treated Harry Bentley or the Willises. In fact, the only problem I have with George Jefferson is that I think he paid waaay too much for that apartment. Maybe it was because they had a fully staffed bar in the basement, but I don’t get it. Wilona’s apartment was just as nice and she lived in the projects! And Weezy must’ve been lazy as fuck, because she needed a full-time maid to clean a two-bedroom spot? The only thing she did all day was go down to volunteer at the Help Center! Lionel was always in his room, so he didn’t make a mess, and… I’m just saying, I think George was getting fleeced on all sides.

But he was the greatest neighbor of all time.

Honorable mention:

The crackhead who always has cheap electronic goods to sell at 3 a.m.,
The babysitter
The Weed Man

About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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