The Problem With Being "One Of The Good Ones"

Though it may seem like it, that phrase is not a compliment.

girl walking down country road Daria_vg / Shutterstock


I was a goth girl who wanted to prove to people that I was a great girlfriend and a wonderful friend. I was a doormat. I wouldn’t even admit when guys would hit me or verbally abuse me.

You see, those guys who hurt me, they had it rough. They told me so.

They told me that all girls were awful to them. They had it so bad that they were sure I was going to be "just like all the others."

Tee hee! Not me! I was going to prove to them that not all women are bad.


You see, I wanted to show them that I was "one of the good ones."

Oh, how stupid I was. I really wish someone had told me the truth about the reason why being "one of the good ones" is never enough.

If 2006 Ossiana sounds like you, sit down and read up. I got to tell you something.

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I think almost every minority or woman has heard that phrase before, often to their "token" individual.

You know that phrase — "one of the good ones."

It’s a phrase that’s uttered by racists, sexists, misogynists, homophobes, and transphobes.

They hate all people in that one category and complain at length about them. But, they might have a female friend. Or a black friend, or a gay cousin.


It often comes out when they introduce them to other people. That’s when the phrase comes out, often with a softened expression. They say, "Don’t worry. He’s one of the good ones."

Or, it may come when someone has chased enough "pick me frisbees" to warrant a pat on the head. That’s when many girlfriends hear their men say, "Women are awful, but you’re not like other girls. You’re one of the good ones."

At the surface level, you might think it’s a compliment. For the person saying it, it is a compliment. For you, it’s not a compliment — not a real one, anyway.

Let me explain why you shouldn’t aspire to be "one of the good ones."


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Being "one of the good ones" never means that the person who says it sees you as one of their own.

When people say you’re "one of the good ones," that means that all the others in your group are bad.

It also means that they intrinsically hate you because you belong to that group.

While you might be "friends" with them, and while you might even be married to them, you’ll never be their equal. They’re telling you that you are not their equal or their partner.

What they see you as depends on them, but you’re (at best) a token character they can point to and say they’re not bigoted and (at worst) their property or target. Either way, you’re not one of them.


They will never truly care for you. They’re saying you’re tolerable without actually saying that you’re tolerable.

Being "one of the good ones" also comes with strings attached.

When you’re “one of the good ones," you’re always walking on a tightrope. You basically have to ignore or double down on whatever bigotry they spew in order to stay in their camp.

That’s what being "good" means to a bigot.

The reason you’re "one of the good ones" is because you don’t create problems for them. You don’t ask to be treated well. You bend over backward, screaming "Pick me! Please! Pick me! I wanna be one of you!"

If you decide to stand up for yourself, back away for your own well-being, or really do anything that isn’t pure obedience, you’re no longer "one of the good ones."


You don’t even have to do anything "bad" to deserve it. Sometimes, being "one of the good ones" is great until you’re no longer useful. Then you’re useless.

That’s when the claws come out of the bigot.

That friend you worked so hard to convince that not all of you are like that — the same one who keeps saying you’re "one of the good ones" — will scoff and say, "Typical. I knew it. You’re just like all the others."

Or, they may just throw you under the bus and walk away from you. After all, you’ve served your purpose. You’re not one of the people they actually care about. You can now go on your merry way if it’s even possible.


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If someone constantly hates on a group you belong to, you need to realize they hate all of you.

If your date pauses and goes, "You’re not one of those feminists, are you?" or asks, "You’re not like other Black people, right?", run.


That date of yours hates you.

Yes, they may try to say that you’re "one of the good ones," but they still don’t like you. Even if they’re superficially nice to you, they hate you. They can want to f*** you and still hate you.

If a man hates women, he hates the woman he's dating. If a person hates black people, then he also hates his "black friend."

You’re not special to them, and you shouldn’t wait around until you find that out the hard way.

Be disobedient. Be one of the people bigots complain about. Make bigots afraid of you.

Trust me, people who appreciate you for who you are will embrace you all the more if you don’t tolerate bigots in your presence.


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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.