Dear White Friends: This is What I Need You to Know

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Dear white friends,

If we are friends, we have probably known each other for a considerable amount of time. Maybe a few years. So, you know my fun, ridiculous, clumsy, silly side. You know that I love detective shows, reading contemporary fiction, and that I drink coffee like it is water. You may have noticed that over the last, oh 3 years or so, I have voiced my disappointment, sadness, and hurt about the social injustices that have been going on for centuries at this point. You may be confused, lost, or simply uncomfortable during these times. I want to talk to you about it because, if we are friends, that she be totally ok, right?

Firstly, I want you to know that I am not a racist. I don’t lump all white people together as bigots. That would literally be doing the same thing that folks do to me that I hate. However, in my experience, people that I thought were an iota more intelligent than let’s say a back water brother-cousin still living in Montgomery 1951 have turned out to be racially insensitive at the very least and flat our racists at the worst. So, I will not lie to you and say it doesn’t cross my mind when meeting a white person for the first time. Like, are they judging me? Are they afraid of me? Do the think my mom is a drug addict, I live in a poverty ridden community, and that I don’t even have a high school diploma because I had to drop out to raise my 2 illegitimate children because their daddies are dope boys and are going up on a Tuesday? It is stressful.

[Related: 9 Tips to Help You (White Folk) Navigate Your Next Conversation About Race]

My white friends, it is important that I get everything off of my chest because it has been weighing down on me quite heavily. When you say racially insensitive things, about black people in particular, it makes me wonder 1. why do you think it is ok to say those types of things around me? and 2. are we really friends if you think like that? Think of it this way, would it be very friendly of me to suggest that your husband is a child molester, sociopath or that your children will grow up to shoot up a movie theater because white people have done that in the past? Clearly not. I mean, it’s rude. That is not to say that we can’t joke around but I don’t think it’s funny when you make black jokes. I don’t. Even if I don’t curse you out in that moment, know that I don’t think it is funny and I will never cosign.

My dear friends, I feel like we also need to address the injustices and my reaction to them and your lack of reaction to them. I get it; you want to live in a world of poppies and sunshine. I assume that it must be enjoyable to not have to worry about the types of things black folk have to worry about like not being hired because you have an ethnic sounding name or people being afraid of you for doing absolutely nothing. But, I will just say this one thing; white silence = white consent. Even if I don’t tell you that I think you agree with what is happening, you now have confirmation that this is how I feel when I am expressing the utter sickness I feel when I think of my child growing up and being seen as a predator and you look at me like a deer in headlights and start talking about crock pot meals.

Lastly, I really need to address the children. I have a child, many people I know have children, and many of those children are white. I know many of us, as parents, want to protect our children from the atrocities of the world as long as possible. It is our instincts. However, teaching your children to be colorblind is insulting. Teaching your children that there are no differences between us is annoying. Not actively exposing your children to diversity ensures that you will raise racially insensitive adults. I promise you that. When you say your little racist jokes over dinner, you are instilling racism into your children. They hear you. They are absorbing that. When you say that little aside about Jewish people or Asians or Black people, they will go out into the world with that and apply it to all of the Jewish, Asian, and Black people they meet because they are children and don’t know how to separate the two. Diversity isn’t the two Black kids and 1 Korean boy in a sea of white faces with all white teachers. If you aren’t actively trying to raise racially aware children, then don’t ask me for a play date because my son will not be around children whose parents think racism is hilarious.

White friends, this letter is getting long and I should probably cut it off here. We are friends because I think you are a great person and add something to my life. But, I needed you to know this.

Sincerely,

Your black friend

PS. Please stop calling me your other black friend’s names. We do not look alike. 

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2 thoughts on “Dear White Friends: This is What I Need You to Know

  1. omg that PS did it for me….i swear I love eveything you write…so raw, right to the point…u remind me so much of myself…ahhhhhhhhh…ok let me stop, like I am 50 years old, and your elderly grandparent…but all jokes aside, great post 🙂

    Like

  2. Another wonderful invitation for a dialogue. This letter, Ask A Black Chick,…pretty much everything I’ve seen that you’ve written is so inviting and informative. I’m white and I’m not scared of Black people in the way that seems to be implied here, but I am scared of saying the wrong thing and of asking questions of any kind. I was raised in the well-meaning but unfortunate era of “raise our (white) kids to be colour blind, and I’m really trying to learn to listen when other people talk about race, and how to respectfully talk about it as a white person who was taught to just not talk about it. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to listen to what you have to say. (I’ve rewritten this and had anxiety about pretty much every word, but I’m pressing send now.)

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