with love: an open letter from your token black friend

token

 

hey,

It’s me Monique, your token black friend.  Do you remember me? It’s been a while since we’ve spoken, you’ve become eerily silent since the murders of Rekia Boyd, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling – I could go on but I won’t bore you with semantics. You do sometimes like my posts about blackness, so that counts, I suppose.  Anyway, just wanted to check on you. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten me.  I’m the one you feel the most comfortable around because according to you I am “not like other black people.” Geez, I can’t thank you enough for thinking that, forever grateful. Although, sometimes that confuses me because I’m very, very black. So black, my parents are from Africa! Surprise! And you know this because you love to tell this to your friends, except sometimes you say I’m “Nigerian or whatever.”, which isn’t true, but that’s ok because I know it’s hard to remember all those African countries. I know you care about Africa, your church went on a missionary trip once and you went on a safari. Way to connect with the people! I really loved all your pictures with those little African children. No, I don’t know them.

Anyway, I’ve really been thinking about all those riveting conversations we used to have. Remember that time you mentioned how much you love black people because we are so real and so funny? Man, it just made me want to shuck and jive for you. And I loved when my friends would come over and you’d begin to speak AAVE, how gracious of you to try and make them feel at home.  Or that time you went tanning and said you were as dark as a black girl, then touched my skin for comparison and admired how soft my skin was. I love being petted like an animal! Please, continue to touch me without my permission. I beseech you. How could I forget when you said you would kill for a mixed baby, but just couldn’t bring yourself to kiss that black boy in high school. Man, lucky him that you even thought about it. Sometimes our conversations were deep. Like that time you started crying because you felt so guilty about being white and how it was hard to be around all your  friends who freely use the n-word and you kept silent. I really appreciate you coming to me with that information. It’s ok, I understand how hard life can be.

And those parties you’d invite me to, what a blast! Your friend asked me to sing the “black people’s happy birthday song” and everyone laughed. So funny! All your friends would corner me and ask how I felt about Soulja Boy. What a beacon of hope he was for hip hop! And then they’d ask me to teach them how to twerk, because of course my body was there for consumption. Don’t worry,  I wasn’t offended. Speaking of hip hop, I’m so glad you’re a fan of it and feel comfortable enough to say nigga around me. Love. It.   Man, good times, good times.  Oh! And the love and life advice you used to give. What gems.  You’d always try to hook me up with that one black guy you knew because we “had so much in common.” Except, he didn’t like black girls and being black was absolutely the only thing we had in common. Or the night Mike Brown was murdered and you told me I just shouldn’t think about those things. What a great support system you are! Like that time you witnessed me being attacked by peak whiteness and you kept quiet, then when I wasn’t around portrayed me as unaccountable and angry. Then said that I acted as though I did all the work, even though I did do all the work. Even the work you took credit for. I just love being erased, thank you! Love, love, love seeing you organize for dead black people, it’s not a contradiction to your actions with living black people, at all.

I won’t take up too much of your time, I know you have more important things going on. And maybe you will just keep silent, because you don’t know what to say; or at least that’s what you told me when I asked why you don’t speak up against the racism you see in your community. I just wanted to write this to let you know that I am not your “black friend”, but rather just a black person you know. Please stop using me as the example to justify your racism and microaggressions.

 

with love,

your token black friend

 

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