Growing up, I was your only Black friend. I explained to you why our hair was short one day and long the next, and why you couldn’t say that one rap lyric. Up until recently, I was your Black friend who could overlook the racist comments you made because “maybe I’m being too sensitive.”
Now, I am your Black friend that’s letting you know I quit the position.
I have come to the realization that my job was anything but helpful — it’s unabashedly counterproductive.
I read of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old, a child, and imagined losing my sister, the same age, over something so harmless and unnecessary. How giving her that Nerf gun on Christmas could be attributed to her death.
Being the oldest of four girls, I believed that none of us had to worry about dealing with police the way Black boys anticipate…then Reika Boyd…which sadly highlighted my naiveté.
I followed Freddie Gray, watching Baltimore lit ablaze before a criminal investigation was launched.
And I saw a disturbing amount of my so-called “friends” take to social media to justify and mitigate these tragedies.
You and others like you inundated my feed with videos similar to these, of contrarian Black people either touting the police, lamenting the state of their community or imploring their own to “stop blaming racism.” Your motivation, typical and thinly-veiled, screamed: Let me share this conscious Black person’s point of view and maybe those misguided ones will come to their senses, and I saw an unacceptable amount of my friends—who don’t look like me— posting it with impunity.
And I sensed those same friends were more disgusted with Blacks destroying their poverty-ridden, alienating community than the deplorable, unequal treatment they are expected to tolerate. How you, without sarcasm, saw check cashing stores and CVS as synonymous with our community.
Then they exploited figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, propping them up, disregarding context and (mis)using their quotes as the chorus to their pro- Black respectability and nonviolence swan song.
These historic, revered individuals were diminished into perverted talking points. It forced me admit that no matter how “acceptable” and educated I am in expressing our disillusionment, they will never get what it is to be Black.
Most of all, I am disgusted that I could’ve been fulfilling that role for them: a means to push their agenda. I was the “I’m not racist, I have a Black friend” friend.
Friend, you told me things are better now in 2015, to stop being preoccupied with race, and “maybe you’re being too sensitive.”
Your Black friend had enough.
See, it became tiring to package my—and many others that look like me—issues and grievances for White people in a way that is comfortable and simple because they are none of those things.
Fearing the police is not comfortable.
Explaining why the “Black on Black crime” argument is a deflection and insulting is not simple.
Your former Black friend, diplomat, and comrade bends under the pressure that comes with evoking compassion and empathy in people who will never be on the receiving end of routine racism. In the process, I learned there is no room for ambiguity; our message must be succinct and engaging because god forbid there are some aspects you can’t relate to and I’ll lose your flimsy support.
It’s nothing less than obscene that Black individuals, now more than ever, are expected to react within reason when facing with a world that by and large does not treat them within the confines of humanity.
I will no longer disassociate my experiences from my rhetoric, because it may be difficult for White people to hear or understand. I won’t feel compelled to provide a diluted and romanticized glimpse into living while Black because it isn’t a truth enjoyed by Blacks themselves.
Why does my frustration and helplessness when hearing Black men, women, and children being shot and killed by police have to fit into a White narrative and context?
…And why have I felt an obligation to reach across the table to find parallels between mine and your reality?
…And why do I have to acknowledge and deconstruct your non-sequiturs in hopes that you’ll have a racial aha! moment?
The answer to those questions is: I shouldn’t, and I will no longer.
With that, any inquiries can be directed to my replacement. I have moved on.