An Open Letter to Your White Best Friend

Dear ___________,

I am your best friend.

I don’t know if you’ve realized this…but…. I’m Black. It’s not only my most visible identity, it’s also one of the identities I’m most proud of. My Blackness means Issa Rae is always rooting for me and Ava DuVernay is always looking for ways to accurately tell my story.

My Blackness means we survived. It means my ancestors who were ripped from their homeland, stripped of their native tongue, beaten, raped, and sold on plantations could not be broken.

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I am proud of my Blackness because of the ingenuity it inspires. We invented peanut butter, improved the effectiveness of pacemakers, and gave you jazz and trap music.

My Blackness is the epitome of excellence. We grew up hearing we had to be twice as good to get half of what you get, yet, when we excel, someone inevitably disregards it by saying we’re a token. Or, they attribute our success solely to affirmative action. You know, that policy that benefits white women more than anyone else.

Best friend, I want you to know that I’m Black because you’ve probably spent some time with your eyes closed so that you couldn’t see my color. Someone probably told you that being colorblind was the goal but actually it misses the mark. If you can’t see color, you can’t see one of my biggest sources of pride and one of my biggest sources of pain.

If your eyes are closed to avoid my Blackness — it’s possible you missed the video. Perhaps it’s why you’re silent (again) and not acknowledging the murder of (another) Black man by the police. Perhaps you can’t see the tears streaming down the faces of Black mothers, sisters, and daughters. Perhaps because we weep silently it perpetuates the myth that we are strong enough to withstand anything. Perhaps because your eyes are closed you can’t see the way we drop to our knees to pray to God, or Allah, or the universe to save our husbands and our sons.

Perhaps with your eyes closed all you hear is the fire strengthening from the riots and the cans of tear gas falling to the floor. Perhaps you can’t differentiate between who is the hero and the villain with your eyes closed.

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Best friend, I hope you open your eyes. I hope you see my Blackness. I hope you tell me how you’re raising an anti-racist child. I hope you tell me what you’ve done to fight racial injustice in the last seventy -two hours, and the seventy two hours before that. I hope that when you’re out in the world you’re the woman that I tell people you are. I hope that behind the silence there’s something profound you’re doing to dismantle racism that I don’t know about. I could use that hope now because America is breaking me down. And best friend, you’re supposed to be there to lift me back up.

Love,

Your black best friend

Written by

Racial justice educator. Daughter. Sister. Cousin. Friend. Caregiver in recovery.

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