By CiKeithia Pugh
If you had asked me what was in store for 2020, I couldn’t have predicted it would be like this. And to think it is only June. I don’t know about you, but I am weary of the next few months.
The last few weeks have been particularly difficult. I’ve always been aware of race; I have no choice as a Black women. People and systems remind me daily of my race and place. Something about these past few months have been different. I cannot point to one thing because I think it is multiple things happening at once, but I noticed it was a week where I questioned a lot of my friendships. To explicitly name it, I thought a lot about my friendships with white women.
Tonight, over a bottle of rosé I reminisced and said goodbye. Me, my laptop, and a glass of rose՛. I am leaning into this emotional tug at my heart and letting go of relationships that have not served me well, specifically my relationships with some white women.
It is funny when I think about how we became friends. Some of you I’ve known since the days of big hair and study groups in high school. Others it was our kids that brought us together, they were friends so naturally we got to know each other. Finally, there are some of you who I got to know through work, the good and bad jobs.
I look back fondly on our times together. Annual girls’ trips, milestone birthdays, and even the death of parents. We have been through a lot together which is why this has been so tough to understand. As I stroll down memory lane, I cannot point to a time where we explicitly talked about race. Obviously, we talked about a lot of things over the years, but I honestly cannot think of a time where race was the topic. I mean there was that one time where you told me you didn’t see color, but I got you straight on that so that popular narrative quickly went away.
How in the world did we never discuss race? I am feeling some sort of way about this, but I am also reminding myself that it is not my job to teach. I learned whiteness very early on. Were you ever curious? Were you ever interested in understanding more about my experiences? What did you think when I talked about how scared I was for my Black son? How about those times when I shared an all too familiar stories of being treated horribly in a store?
I guess what I am trying to ask is did you forget I was Black. Seems silly I know, but what story did you tell yourself?
Your silence was not surprising sadly. I know you were probably struggling to find the right words to say. I was holding out hope you would come through. But the call didn’t come, and I found myself waiting. Where in the hell have you been? With everything happening in the country and across the world now how could you not think of me? My son, my family, my community?
It wasn’t one thing you said. It wasn’t just the “one call” or one conversation. Don’t replay our last conversation over and over again in your head, like the rest of the world and nation this has been building over time. We’re both feeling something, but the pain is different.
So here we are at this moment in time where I am taking stock of my life and those around me. If you are not actively fighting for justice, equity and Black Lives, we need to say goodbye.
Seems drastic right? Well drastic times call for drastic measures. When you didn’t call you confirmed for me that perhaps you never saw me in my full spirit and humanity as a Black woman. I am not angry though, disappointed yes, but not angry. I am saving my anger for the fight for justice.
I do believe when you know better you do better, so consider this my parting gift to you. White women friends y’all got some work to do.
The ‘work’ isn’t reading one book or listening to one podcast. Another white person told me he started reading Ijeoma Oluo’s book, So You Want to Learn About Race, and had a hard time connecting with it because she was “too angry,” halfway through he finally realized she wasn’t angry- she was telling a truth he didn’t want to see. Your anger, sadness, uncertainty are feelings you need to have. You need to learn about race and whiteness, but not from me. You also need to do some healing, again not with me. Find some other white people who understand race and whiteness. Sit and have your feelings, process them and heal, maybe drink some wine. I’ll be drinking my rosé too.
(Your only Black friend)
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