Your Black Friends Are Tired
I’m fortunate to have many people in my life who I can call “friend.” I’m doubly fortunate to have lots of friends from different cultural and economic backgrounds. I grew up in a small city in Northern California where White people are actually the minority. Nevertheless I had White, Black, Latino, Asian and Native friends growing up. We weren’t taught to hate each other but we did notice and appreciate each other’s differences. We shared our experiences and I’m a better person for it. That’s where I come from. That’s my lens and this is my message to share with the friends of Black people*.
We’re really tired.
Chances are your Black friend is under constant attack. You see, your Black friend lives in a world where they are constantly reminded that their Blackness is an ever-present liability. We’re not the only “minority” group in America and we’re not the only ones to face hatred but we face the brunt of it. Anti-Blackness permeates and is entrenched within other cultures as well. White Supremacy is a scale and Black people are always at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum.
Chances are your Black friend goes through extraordinary lengths to mask their true feelings for the sake of the comfort of those around them. Your Black friend might smile through micro-aggressions and constant tests of their worth in the workplace on a daily basis because they know that direct opposition is threatening. It makes them “unapproachable” or even worse “angry.”
Chances are your Black friend has been dealing with a lot of emotional trauma fairly covertly. Your Black friend has witnessed a barrage of graphic footage of Black people being executed for being Black. Your Black friend sees a face like theirs or their mother’s, or father’s, or brother’s, or sister’s plastered on CNN every other week while talking heads speculate on whether they deserved their execution. Your Black friend is constantly inundated with these images and the dismaying proof that there are people around them who could truly care less whether they live or die and even worse would celebrate their deaths as good police work. Your Black friend is probably filled with a sense of dread every time they see a hashtag followed by a name trending on Twitter.
Chances are your Black friend lost count. They probably lost count of all the names that have trended on Twitter. They’ve lost count of all the times they’ve felt torn up inside. They’ve lost count of all the times they’ve been challenged to prove (prove) that their experiences were valid, that their viewpoints were valid, that their humanity was valid.
Chances are your Black friends are a little fed up. They might not have the wherewithal to educate. They might not see the value in engaging. They might not have the energy to keep you comfortable. They may not have the patience for politeness or delicacy. You see, their lives are handled indelicately.
If I’m your Black friend, I want you to know something. I cried the day after Philando Castile was murdered because my mother was afraid for me to walk 4 blocks down my street in a predominantly White neighborhood to go get breakfast. That’s how uncertain our lives are. No mother should ever have to fear that. No group of people should have to suffer the injustices that we’ve suffered for centuries. I don’t want to joke today. I don’t want to educate today. I don’t want to debate today. I’m very tired.
*Author’s note: Black people are not a monolith. The examples and the perspective given in this article are not all-encompassing. They’re merely a device to illustrate a point and provide perspective.