How To Be My White Friend

Dear White Friend(s),

I love you, I really do. I do not call just anybody a friend. Those that respect me and my identity are in a special place in my heart. You are a person who has proven to me time and time again that you are kind, caring, trustworthy, and that you think the same of me. We have a friendship where dialogue is encouraged and appreciated. With that said, there are some issues that we need to talk about:

Do not talk over me. Let me get angry. Do not police my tone or my language. Don’t
be silent, though. If we are having a conversation that invokes any kind of emotion and I am still talking, please continue with the topic. The conversation does not end because you feel uncomfortable having to confront your problematic and/or oppressive behavior, especially when it comes to racism. Your white guilt does not have a place in this particular conversation.

Please do not tell me about That Other White Person’s racist behavior.When you tell me a story about the racist comment someone else made, you are telling me that you are able to recognize other people’s racism. And if the story does not end with you trying to open a dialogue with the person that said the racist comment, you have not done your job as someone that is able to recognize racism. You as a white person do not get to walk away from racism. If you are in an environment where you can call someone out on their behavior then do it. Do it, but do not congratulate yourself, your awareness does not mean you are incapable of slipping up.

Do not assume that you get a pass for being my friend. When you talk about white people and do not include yourself, you are making a distinction between yourself and other white people when there is no ‘other. It is great that you have been receptive to learning about the effects of racism and white supremacy and that you seem to care about unpacking your privilege, but you are not automatically dismissed from being white. At the end of the day, you still share their whiteness and the privileges that come from it.

Do not ask me to call you out. Our friendship needs to be more than me making sure that you do not offend people ‘like’ me. When you ask me to call you out, you are making it so that you are no longer accountable for your oppressive language and/or actions. You are saying that me as your oppressed friend, I must keep you on your toes. News flash: I am not your practice for how to be an ally. If I want you to be aware of any problematic comments or actions you have said/done, I will tell you. But do not assume that I will always want to have the time and/or and energy to explain every single problematic comment or action. I already have to navigate through everyday life; maybe I do not want to chat with you over coffee and tell you how to stop being an asshole to other people.

We are friends because I feel that we together have created a space where we can talk to one another. Guess what, friends get upset with each other. We are friends because I can tell you to stop your racist tendencies, then we can go and eat cupcakes. We would not be friends if I did not feel that I could talk to you as often as I could get angry with you. You do not understand my struggles or experience as a queer woman of color, and I do not expect you to. I want you to be a friend that can be silent when I am having a bad day after dealing with racism. When I’m complaining about white feminist assholes ruining my day, you do not have to know all the right things to say or say anything at all; however, you do not get to dismiss my feelings.

You do not have to remind me “not all white people suck.” I know that — we’re friends, aren’t we? I know you did not mean to say what you did but you said it because your whiteness exists in ways that you do not realize. I am aware of that, so should you. Stop giving yourself so much damn credit. I love you, I really do, but sweetie, the sooner you recognize your whiteness, the sooner we can have a great friendship.

Note: This was published with the author’s permission from the site ANGRYBLKGRRL.

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