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Posted under: Opinion

How Friendly Are Your White Friends?

In the wake of Black men and women being murdered due to police brutality, people have a lot to say. People are angry, emboldened, and of course, very opinionated. As a Black woman, I too share these feelings. Last week, in a Facebook exchange someone whom I considered to be an acquaintance of mine, showed me their true colors. This person had published a supposed  “rap sheet” or list of charges against Freddie Gray. I was surprised and confused. So me being the curioso that I am, I asked him the relevance of posting Mr. Gray’s run-ins with the police. His response?
“Nothing really, I just wanted to post it because it was interesting to find out what this guy has done in the past.”
 

But I knew this guy, How did I miss this?

Now, if you’re reading this, I can only hope that you are also following along in my confusion. One question stuck out in my mind, “What does this have to do with the fact that Freddie Gray was murdered by the Baltimore Police Department!?” Answer: absolutely nothing. Since I know this person outside of Facebook,  I explained that in posting Freddie Gray’s charges, he was implying that Mr. Gray’s murder was justified.He immediately went on the defensive and proceeded to tell me to “shut the fuck up” and keep my “damn opinions” to myself. I was also accused of “twisting” his words. While I did no such thing, I wondered about our relationship. He had never shown any racist tendencies in my presence; he even escorted my little sister to homecoming back in 2011. Where did this come from? I consider myself to be pretty observant. How did I miss this?  After reflecting,  I realized I didn't miss anything. He had never displayed any of these feelings or tendencies, not because he didn’t consider me to not be black (you know, the whole "I don’t see color, I just see people" song-and-dance), but because he considered me to be “the other” kind of black person. One that wasn’t a threat to his whiteness and the privilege that comes with it. Unfortunately for him, I am not. I am young, a woman, and most of all I AM BLACK. This exchange had me wondering how many of the white people whom I associated with saw me in this light? Do any of our white “friends” really get it? Answer: Eh. I do believe that there are some white people who actually identify the systematic oppression of not only black people but all persons of color. But there are certainly those who choose not to. There are also those who, like this particular person, have deluded themselves into thinking that just because they’re friends with “nice” Black people, that they can't be racist. Well, my white counterparts unfortunately for your snow white bubble, that is simply not true.

NEWS FLASH: YOU CAN HAVE BLACK FRIENDS AND STILL BE RACIST.

Confused? Allow me to clarify. Do you see color? How many Black friends do you have? Are your black friends “different” from other black people? If these questions sound familiar then I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that’s racist. While the foundation for this is not your fault, the fact that you choose to carry on these attitudes, is. Black people, like any other race of people are multifaceted. Some of us are loud, quiet, deeply religious, highly spiritual, conservative, liberal, artistic, cerebral, live for hip-hop, love rock music, meditate, go to church, are dark skinned, are light skinned, are civilians, are veterans, have brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes, blonde hair, brown, red, black, are named Jessica and John, La’Quisha, Tyrone, prefer apple to android, android to apple, play video games, have no idea how to even work a joystick, are sneakerheads, only wear loafers, sag our pants, wear them at our waists, etc. There’s not just one “type” of Black person. And trust me, your “nice” Black friends are way more than the surface Black that they show you.

To all the white people reading this... here's some advice:

The next time you find one of your “nice” Black friends being “militant” and “Pro-Black”, instead of feeling threatened by their point of view, learn from them. Ask the questions that you’re afraid to ask. Believe me when I say this:  I would much rather you ask instead of assuming or making some ill-informed Facebook post. If you don’t understand why “those thugs” in Baltimore are upset, maybe ask your “nice” Black friend. I hope you are not only surprised but educated by their answer. With bravery, education, honesty and openness we can break the cycle of racism and dismantle the system. However, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of hard questions need to be asked and answered,   Want more commentary from Blavity voices? Sign up for our weekly email digest below. [mc4wp_form]
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