Sometimes it’s hard for me to talk to you right now. Even though I know you’re okay, I also can’t help but feel that you are intimately intertwined with my oppressors.” There was a pause over the phone line as my best friend of over 25 years digested my words. I mean, really, where does a conversation go from there?
Michelle and I were college roommates at Stanford. For two years we shared a dorm room, and the late night confessions that frequently accompany that type of proximity. We shared college vacations to Jamaica and, years later, joint family vacations to Hawaii. We were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings and named one another godmothers to our children. We know each other’s extended family members and family stories. In short, I invited Michelle to the “cookout” a long time ago, and she had pulled up a chair and comfortably enjoyed the potato salad.
But we live in a time when black bodies continue to pile up at the hands of cops and racist vigilantes, and white America continues to ignore or justify these murders. Processing these painful events, I was jarringly reminded that Michelle, for all of her wonderful qualities, was still just another white person. Even worse, she was a white person who hailed from the most rural parts of Montana — with family members who I know supported Trump, and a younger sister who (Michelle had recently confessed to me) was flirting with the alt-right movement. In Michelle’s defense, she was dismayed by those facts, but her dismay didn’t make these facts any less true or me any less disgusted.
[For more on this story, go to https://medium.com/@realtalkwocandallies/now-hiring-friends-whites-need-not-apply-230a676b5e94]