To White Friends That Disappoint
There are many days when I hate most of the white people around me. Sometimes I’m sitting on the porch with a beer in my hand. The weather is sunny and everyone is laughing, forgetting that we talked about for Philando Castile for just five seconds or that the new guy that showed up to the party said, “Feminism is not real”. OR that Tupac once wrote a letter about breaking up with Madonna because she was white or that your white, fragile peace is dependent on the expectation that I will spend my life accommodating to white spaces.
But what if I don’t want to hold your white world together with my black hands?
Not too long ago, I attempted to console a friend that was sobbing and wrapped in a blanket late at night. She started by saying, “My heart is so fucking broken.” Less of a moment of white person confusion and likely entirely a moment of realizing the desolation is all around us, I realized once again that I could trust this friend because they shared it too — the growing feeling that the collapse is coming for you and everyone that you love. This realization also helps articulate the ability to move through trauma collectively for the sake of resistance.
That first feeling is all consuming and terrible. Many black folks face it alone as they scroll through their social media when yet another systemic tragedy is revealed as white people sit feet away, unfazed.
The point is that in the two months since I’ve been back in the United States, I’ve had many conversations with white people that bore me with their inability to face reality.
“We have to listen to both sides or else nothing will get better.”
“This is all so confusing!”
“What can we do?”
Recently a white friend of mine called out another white person “for not doing more with their privilege”. That conversation followed with both parties reaching out to me individually for advice. One of them was more confused and conflicted and says he has plans to battle racism in what he believes are the best ways to contribute.
These conversations often run in circles and usually end with me being thanked for “being so understanding/open/willing to deal”. I often spout out streams of consciousness until I can’t say anymore. I’m usually left with a white person who is still willing to wait on the sidelines, in the shade. I often wonder if I’m the only articulate, compassionate, political or smart black friend that they can go to in their life to dump their existential confusion, and white feelings to. My personality suits loving and helping others. Sometimes white people rub this part of me raw when they fail to realize a few things.
At one point, I said to this white friend, “I often wonder what my white friends with ideas like yours would do if I were killed by police or sentenced to prison time.”
The question I really wanted to ask was,
“Why do you (a white person) get a better chance of surviving this wreckage and I don’t? Do you care enough to do something about it?”
Be prepared because I’m about to get real:
I shouldn’t have to ask you how you’d react if I died at the hands of a cop’s gun for you to pull your head out of your feelings to see the reality. We are all in danger. The world is political. Whiteness and white comfort is not only assumed “normal”. It’s a “normal” worth defending by brutalizing, killing, and imprisoning others in the sake of capitalism and white supremacy. It is your job as a white person to attack white supremacy.
If I die, I want you to feel guilty because you realize you could’ve done more. You could’ve told your racist cousin to fuck off or checked yourself on a regular basis before coming to a black person to help you contextualize your feelings.
If I die, I imagine rich neighborhoods burning, dance parties outside of police stations, and the weary realization that we are born into war; that freedom (as defined by the oppressor) is an illusion.
If I die, I want you to cry for me but not really me. I mean, the collective me, the black bodies with endless stories and centuries’ old grudges that you often overlook. I want you to realize that I have broken in places that can never be fixed and that is because more people did not speak up, block roadways, create autonomous zones, or act upon the need for a better world.
There was a time when I hated my body because I was taught to. I want real freedom more than my naïve desire that you will see me for who I am — young and terrified — and finally, meaningfully fight for me because a traffic stop and any sudden movement can materially lead to my death.
If you want to be a good white person to the black people in your life, be reliable. Check in on your black comrades. Respond accordingly. Be angry and not passive to the white apparatus that has crafted your understanding of yourself. Destroy that apparatus daily. Figure your shit out with your openly anti-racist white friends (if you even have them), then come to black people ready to destroy what is present and built what is better for all.
Sometimes I hate most of the white people around me because their ability to survive with relative peace, to be safe in their skin is in direct conflict with my love for myself. They are waiting for a train to pick them up and provide a blueprint for an anti-racist, anti-capitalist world. Fuck that. Black people do not have that luxury as we dodge racist bosses, get followed in stores, are murdered on livestream, ushered in handcuffs to the back of cruisers, or are told lies about our histories.
I repeat, sometimes I hate white people because they disappoint me on a level that I often think they do not deserve to know what is real and boiling inside of me. Especially the white people that I happen to love. The only question left is — are you one of those white people?