To My White Friends

Self Perception

To My White Friends

When I originally went to write I wanted to write about my experience as a Black woman in America.  I wrote something else instead.  Mostly because I am fearful.  Fearful of how it will be received; you know, ‘you’re playing the race card’ or ‘Black people can be racists too’.  Comments we hear when those receiving it are too ignorant or too comfortable with their privilege they can’t accept another’s reality.  The reality is, collectively, White people are not ready to talk about racism and how it continues in the United States because it’s uncomfortable and shameful and embarrassing.  But that’s how it feels to be viewed through your eyes.  Seeing people being murdered on video should not be easy to digest.  Because it is not easy to live, knowing that we are under attack.  This isn’t a Black and White thing.  This is a humanity thing.  I think if you can start there, you can see just how far away we are from liberty and justice for all. 

So why is it when we speak about racism, you get defensive and are unable to have an intelligent conversation?  Instead, you change the subject, “what about Black on Black crime”, which we could talk about too, but I really don’t think you’re ready for the truth behind that conversation either.  When it comes to race all of a sudden you become deaf, dumb, and blind all at once and your silence is deafening.  I didn’t want to write this to what I assume is a mostly White community because I am not your token Black friend, here to enlighten you and help you through this difficult time.  I am not here to hold your hand through this.  I have to live it.  I am no longer concerned with making you feel comfortable while I am uncomfortable.  Black women will no longer dry your tears while you watch our people drown.  I am going to speak freely and from my heart and my anger and my pain.  If you disagree, that’s okay too.  The line has been drawn.  Those who are not with me are against me and I have no room for it.  My heart will not allow it.  I just ask don’t kill me. 

But I have to write this.  Not even a letter to the White community.  This is a letter to my White friends.  YOU are killing me.  Why are you so quiet?  How did I grow to love you and grow up with you, share time and conversation with you and you don’t care about me?  About my life?  I have to write this because I want you to know that your silence hurts and it is scary to know that you are not on my side.  A few friends have reached out.  I appreciate you.  I appreciate your quest for wanting to know more and do better and stand with me.  But for everyone else, I want to know something.  Why do you consider me less than human?  Why do I have to try and convince you of my worth?

Many people want to know what we experience.  I don’t want to really explain all that.  What do you need an explanation for?  Do you want to be able to feel my experience so that you can stand up for my right to live?  Ask yourself this, would you want to trade places with me?  As Mrs. Jane Elliot says, anyone who wants to trade places with a Black person in America, please stand up.  If you know you would never want to change places with a Black person, why do you need to know my individual/collective experience?  It tells me you have an idea, you know enough that you wouldn’t choose it for yourself.  So then what is the problem?  Do you believe in equality and equity?  Do you believe in ALL lives including Brown lives or just yours? 

Black people are so tired of having to defend our right to live?  Why is this an argument?  I do not understand it.  Why are you over here quoting Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and telling us how to peacefully protest when MLK himself was beaten, arrested, and killed for doing just that?  Hold up, why do you love MLK now?  You didn’t then.  You don’t live by anything he stood for?  Why do you mention our need to respect the police when you are out here with assault rifles spitting on police and calling them names over a haircut?  Because YOU have rights.  Why do you choose to ignore the media only showing Blacks looting stores and look over the White lady in the department store?  Why do you ignore the fact that Black people did not start the looting?  Why do you shift blame and switch up the narrative when we talk about Brown people being murdered?  Why won’t you stand up and call wrong, wrong?  Listen, Black people didn’t start this.  There is nothing I can say to a racist person that will change their mind.  To them a good Nigger is a dead Nigger.  You are the ones they need to hear from.  People who look like them and who do not want to be associated with them.  You are the ones that need to challenge them and tell them what your community will and will not tolerate (I would say our community but that’s not true is it).  What you will and will not tolerate in conversations with friends, family, colleagues, and otherwise.  You need to decide which side of the line you are on and what you truly believe in.  I am asking you to walk the talk.  It is not going to be easy, it will be uncomfortable, and you may lose some people who are important to you but I implore you to stand in your courage just as we are asked to do daily while there is a war raging against our lives.  Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking.  Your integrity is lacking. 

Here’s what I want you to know about where I am at.  I will not tolerate your intolerance for humanity.  I will not tolerate your false friendship.  When I have to hear things from you like:

  • What about Black on Black crime?
  • Black people can be racists
  • Blue lives matter
  • All lives matter
  • Why are they looting and destroying property
  • Respect the flag
  • Respect the military
  • If they would just be compliant and not resist
  • If they weren’t breaking the law
  • THUG

It is not acceptable.  Do you hear what I am saying?  This is where we are having a problem.  I am over here screaming, “I matter, please don’t kill me, I can’t breathe” and you’re over here with this dumb bullshit.  My life is not up for fucking debate.  Do you hear me?  If you have to question whether or not I have the right to even matter, let alone be equal (because it’s crazy to think we could all be equals) you can KISS MY BLACK ASS and move right the fuck along.  Because I have no time for you.  And you know I’m serious.  When I see you, don’t look at me, don’t say shit to me.  Keep it moving as if we never shared time and space, friendship, love, and laughter.  Because while I wish you nothing but grace, love and light in your future, I won’t be part of it.  And for the record, no Brown person owes you any explanation.  You look within yourself and decide which side you want to be on.  The revolution will not be televised because the revolution starts within. 

Lastly, to my brothers and sisters from all of humanity who stand with me or struggle with me or are persecuted with me, I want to shout THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  To my 3 girlfriends who really showed up for me, becoming vulnerable and standing in courage and shame and making some tough decisions, I want you to know I am with you.  I stand with you.  I will always stand with you.  I love you.  Thank you for loving me too. 

The choice is yours.  The line has been drawn.  You’re either for me or against me.  You either value equality and equity and human life and love or you don’t.  There is no sitting on the fence here and observing passively.  There is no room for that anymore.  Are you with me or against me?  Do you love me?  Then, show me. 

“ I can’t believe my great fortune. I’m so grateful to be a Black woman, I would be jealous if I were anything else.” ~Maya Angelou

 

Written by:  Courtney F.

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