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  • Writer's pictureKiya Jacob

A Letter from your token black friend

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Hey there, it’s your token black friend here. There’s a lot going on right now but I'm going to take some time out of my day to, well, enlighten you. However before I do that I’m going to give you a little background into who I am. I’m a black girl who grew up in a white world. I have a white mother, mixed sisters and went to private schools my whole life. My social circles are primarily white to this day. I’m proud of my kinky curls. I’m proud of my button nose. I’m proud of the way the sun follows me because of my delicious melanin. I am proud to be black. But that is not why I’m writing this. I am writing this because lately it feels like my white friends aren’t proud of my blackness. Worse, I have just realized that my white friends do not understand my blackness. My blackness is unapproachable. To realize that close friends did not understand this fundamental aspect of my nature is shocking, disorienting, and deeply hurtful. 

To start to do this, I realize I need to introduce you to that fundamental part of myself that I have only recently come to learn you never understood. The death of George Floyd was not just the death of yet another unarmed black person to me. It was the death of someone with whom I am inextricably connected by way of our shared blackness. I too have been harassed by police and have feared them my entire life. It was something that my white mother had instilled in me as a young child: because I was born with skin that makes police uncomfortable, scared, and trigger happy, they are never to be called in the case of an emergency. To say that the systematic actions of police departments in this country are racist is an idea people seem to be turning away from and ignoring despite evidence that this is the reality. Racism today is different from how it was 10 or even 50 years ago: acts of racism are less blunt/obvious making it easier for white America to ignore it. When the blatant acts of racism were challenged, the oppressors adapted with the times. What a nation understood to be racist stayed the same while the actual acts of racism evolved.

As I mourn for what feels like the death of a family member white people can go about their day and not feel this injustice as deeply as I do. While people often turn to anger and frustration, which is an understandable stage of grieving, we witness another form of betrayal. Betrayal in the highest form; ignorance of the message we are trying to share. As people march the streets reaching out to be heard our calls go unanswered by a government that doesn't want to acknowledge the pain or injustice we feel. By the government that continues to support racist murderers. Then to look at social media and see Trump is threatening to send the national guard to take care of the “THUGS” and to insinuate violence towards people who are lost in anger. To remove all sense of humanity when he catchphrases “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Oh but wait, I’m not done yet. Turn on the news, what was that he said? “Our country always wins.” When did protesting, as one of our so called basic human rights,  translate to us versus the country. Unfortunately, I expect that tone from Amerikkka's president. I expect him to go on live TV and not address the pain and suffering we feel because I know he doesn't truly love or care for anyone who’s black. I expect him to turn a blind eye because he has for the last 4 years and I’m sure everyday before that as well.  The government has been letting us down for years. When I say years I mean 400 years. Centuries of this country beating and battering people of color simply because they are people of color. 

What you must understand is that silence in this moment is not neutral. Silence is the same as Trump's blatant ignorance. To see friends that I consider family turn a blind eye feels like a level of betrayal that I wasn't ready to endure. That no one should have to endure. It's like watching a family member be murdered and no one reaching out to share their condolences. You start to question if they are actually your friend. Do white people know that simply reposting something a Kardashian posted isn’t enough?  That the Kardashians use culture and abuse our culture and that their words don’t carry enough merit for me to be content? That posting the colorful George Floyd picture that has been circling around, although beautiful, doesn’t show me that you understand---much less care for---my personal loss? I’m not sure what I expected, but I was certainly surprised. I want you to be enraged. I want you to see George Floyd and I want you to see me. Because he and I are the same. 

I want you to want to fight for my life, my rights, my future and for the end of racism. If you truly see me as an equal, be my ally. To be an ally means to unite a resource with another for mutual benefit. I’m asking for you to stand by me, unite our races hand in hand and support me. Redirect the “Karen” energy towards a future where we fight for eachother. If this task is too hard for you, I truly feel bad for you. I feel bad that you are so insensitive that you can't take the time to stop posting about your summer on yachts and drinking at parties to just be respectful, while your token black friends are protesting for their basic human rights. You know, those people that you use to justify your use of the “N” word or do hairstyles that simply don't work for your hair texture. We do not share the same rights; acknowledge it. Tell me “I see your color.” Tell me “I respect your heritage.” If anything at all, tell me “I support you.” Tell me you are an ally, because some of the things I've been seeing from people I thought were my friends tell me otherwise. You're able to escape from this unfortunate reality I face everyday. You're able to have fun and distract yourself. However, your silence is part of the problem, whether it’s on a public platform or in the confines of a private discussion. We see it. We are taking notes on who really cares who really stepped up to the plate. This isn't an easy topic. It's not an easy topic because there are some white people who aren't willing to have a discussion or educate themselves. We need white voices. We need you to use any platform you have. In the America we live in now your voices are the ones the government listens to. We look to you to be by our side.



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