I get it. You’re confused. Your Black friend, the nice one that posts funny memes, or about their kids, or videos of them being “talented”, has suddenly started posting “Black” things. They’ve suddenly started tweeting or posting “divisive” material that makes you uncomfortable or defensive.
As long as you’ve known them, your sweet, Black friend has never been so abrasive and “angry.” And you’re confused. I mean you get what happened to George Floyd is bad, but that cop was arrested and charged. So is all this really necessary? All this anger seems so sudden.
Let me tell you about your Black Friend.
It all started when your Black friend noticed you explain away Zimmerman by saying he had every right to do what he did; a statement that felt oddly reminiscent of white people explaining why Emmett Till got what was coming to him.
Your Black friend politely ignored your posts about how much “Blue Lives” mattered, even though you didn’t acknowledge that a “Blue Life” is a career choice that can be shed just as easily as it’s dawned, over your friend’s Black life that can’t be taken off and stored in a closet at the end of the day.
Your Black friend watched as you supported the leader of the free world when he referred to their lands of ancestral origins as a “sh*thole countries.”
Your Black friend watched the peaceful protest by Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling for police brutality get unceremoniously hijacked and perverted. They watched how you called him unpatriotic and ungrateful. They watched how you argued on other people’s posts and told other Black people that if they hated this country so much, go back to the land….that they were stolen from.
Your Black friend pretended to ignore the fact that that specific peaceful protest, suggested by a veteran, caused the leader of the free world to refer to the players participating as SOBs.
Your Black friend watched as you championed your relationship with them as if it’s a ticket to the carousel of microaggressive racist statements and generalizations that you’re allowed to make
Your Black friend watched as you proudly defended Black men and women being murdered as a deserved ending to a situation where a question may not have been answered to what you deemed as a proper authority figure.
Your Black friend watched as you defended police officers, and non-police officers, who were allowed to use violence because they “feared for their lives,” but rebuffed the idea that a Black man could live and react to that same fear.
Your Black friend noticed that you used terms like “mental health issues” when whole schools, music concerts, movie theaters, and church services were sprayed with gunfire by a white assailant; but then you’d throw around phrases like “animal that needs to be put down” when a single soul gets shot by a Black one.
Your Black friend cringed when you carelessly declared that “all lives mattered,” even when they pleaded that the plight of their people in this country just…. be noticed and acknowledged.
Your Black friend swallowed their bile when you unabashedly claimed not to see color…when that’s the first thing they acknowledge while their morning breath is still pungent as they stare at their image in their bathroom mirrors.
They watched you congratulate the white men that refused to stay indoors and marched their way down to the capitols of their cities with loaded guns to scream in the faces of the “blue lives” you so valiantly claimed to support.
And then they watched you turn right around and retweet or repost articles and statements about the Black protesters, angry about systemic racism that you so vehemently deny exists, calling them “thugs” and “welfare queens” that should be shot on sight.
They watched you deny that in several of these cites where looting and fires started, the police or white people who were taking advantage of the situation instigated it.
They watched quietly as you used MLK memes essentially and covertly calling him “one of the good ones” while blatantly ignoring quotes and statements of his that called out a system you are choosing to blatantly ignore…. also forgetting that this “peaceful” man was gunned down along with so many other leaders that chose “non-violence.”
They watched you conveniently forget that almost all the peaceful protests from the Civil Rights Movement were met with fire hoses, tear gas, billy clubs and vicious dogs….and whole busses set on fire…with the people still on them.
They watched you dismiss that most of the Little Rock 9 are still alive, Ruby Bridges is still alive, John Lewis is still alive…and so are your Black friend’s parents and grandparents.
They just realized that you’ve ignored their disturbing stories of having to keep a cop calm during a routine traffic stop; a skill taught to them at a very early age by their fathers and mothers…who learned it from their parents…
And you brushed off their stories of being ignored in the ER or tragically being dismissed during labor and delivery. You’ve ignored their stories of being followed around the store or stopped at the exit door to have their receipt and bag checked while people who looked like you moved about freely with bagless merchandise without care.
They watch you play “devil’s advocate” when they mention their triggers or outrage about overt racism they experience on a daily basis…on a daily basis.
So no, this isn’t “all so sudden.”
And no, this isn’t just about George Floyd.
Here’s the thing about your Black “friends”…we’re tired.
We have been giving you a pass for a very long time. We have allowed you to exist in this space of comfort because on some level we recognized you’d never get it. We realized that no matter how many of our stories we told, or videos we produced, or think pieces we wrote…you wouldn’t get it.
But we need you to know…George wasn’t our starting block…he was our breaking point.
And the fact that we even have to explain to you why…in 2020…makes us even wearier.
Our black lives have mattered every single day to us…the fact that you’re just now noticing our stance on that…means we never truly mattered to you.
You know I’m right.