An open letter to my white “friends”…
Many of you know me from high school.
Some of you are the parents of the kids I went to school with.
Some of you spent a lot of time with me as a child. We went to school together, we were best friends in elementary school or middle school, we took dance lessons together, played softball together, cheered together. I ate dinner with your families, carpooled to events, shared in so many memories with you.
What many of you don’t know is how I was told in 4th grade that I was Black and should be a slave by some kid whose name & face I remember vividly. I remember how I felt. I remember how my teacher handled it. I imagine how much restraint my parents felt they had to have.
Many of you don’t know how painful it was for me when one of the white boys had a crush on me & you questioned him by asking “which Bri? the Black one?!” as if it was a death sentence for them.
Many of you don’t know about how the people who built my parents home in the 70’s tried their hardest to make sure they didn’t purchase a house in “their” neighborhood.
Many of you don’t know how painfully aware I was as a CHILD that some of your parents didn’t want you spending the night at your Black best friends house because she was…Black.
Over the last few days, I have posted a lot of things on my story that articulate how I feel about being Black in america.
I have cried. I am scared. I am worried for my husband, brothers, father & friends. I am frustrated. I am not sleeping well. I am tired. I am hurting.
A lot of you know my Father. He has always shared with me the stories of his life and the racism & hatred he has faced. He tells me of the things they have had to do to defend themselves & to fight for justice. He is usually a pillar of strength and optimism. This morning, he wished that he could assure me that things would be okay like he usually does. But for the first time, he admitted that he can’t. & that broke my heart.
A lot of you have opinions.
& to be clear, I am not asking for your permission to feel or say anything related to this topic. I am also not asking for your opinion. I simply don’t care.
You see the images of white men armed with assault rifles in government buildings & the police standing there unbothered. What are they protesting? The attempts to stop the spread of a virus that is proven to be lethal for some. You’ve seen white men who have committed mass murders being escorted gently by police in handcuffs. You see the images of Black people protesting the literal murder of a man suspected of FORGERY on a street by the police. You see how the police are interacting with them. YOU SEE IT ALL! You see the differences. & this isn’t the first time.
Wake up! We are not all “thugs”. Just like you are not all complacent racists, right? We are human beings with families and dreams – we shouldn’t have to remind you of that. & we’re TIRED.
Now, a few of you have replied to my posts to share how your heart is aching & to genuinely ask what it is you can do.
& while I do appreciate your willingness to help and your desire to learn more, I do want to make sure you understand that the burden of educating you can no longer be on me or any of your other Black “friends”.
There is a literal World Wide Web full of information. There are people who have organized & have stepped into this role in order to relieve us from this burden. Seek them out.
The LEAST you can do is do the research & not rely on us to do that for you. The LEAST you can do is go out of your way to be overly kind to the Black people you come in contact with. We are deeply burdened. We are hurting. & quite frankly, you can & should do more than those things.
For most of you, life goes on as normal. For us, it simply cannot. There is an unspoken pain in our eyes that we share with each other when we pass each other in public. We may turn our cameras off during our zoom meetings because we don’t want to put on a fake smile for you. We may call out from work after things like this (when we can) because we don’t want to put on a fake smile for you. We’re tired of acting like all is well because it absolutely is not.
Please know that I’m not interested in debating about this. If your heart is not in a place to be compassionate & if you only intend to spread racism, hate, prejudice, misinformation, etc., then don’t bother interacting with me in any way. I am one of those people who will screen shot your comments, look up your employer & make sure they know who they hired. I’m done with this crap.
If you are genuinely interested in knowing how you can do better, this GoogleDoc is full of anti-racism resources. This website is also a great resource full of books & movies you can take a look at that are broken down by age groups. This is by no means an extensive list so do your own research too. & I encourage you to share some helpful resources you have found in the comments if you feel lead to do so. I pray you do more today.