The Challenge of Having White Friends Right Now
When they don’t care about Black pain, they make it worse
Throughout my adulthood, I’ve been blessed with loyal and generous friends. They’ve been hanging in there with me for years, through ups, downs, and sideways, across multiple countries and continents. They’re among my staunchest supporters; some of them happen to be White.
But these are indeed times that can try Black souls — and our friendships, too. Ever since George Floyd used his last breaths to plead for his life while a White cop strangled him with his knee, I’ve discovered that not all of my relationships with White people are what they seem.
I can now separate most of my White friends and acquaintances into two distinct groups. Some may not feel my pain but try their best to understand it. When our conversations turn to race, they don’t let White fragility get in the way of listening and learning.
Then, there are the rest of them.
My husband, White and Australian, bears the brunt of my frustration over race issues in the United States. Although our living together means he has no choice, it still means everything to me that he gamely sits in front of my soapbox and listens to me rant about racial injustice without trying to manage my feelings or make it a two-way street where both sides are to blame.
He recently told me he’d learned much from me about the struggle of being Black in the U.S., something he rarely had to think about in Australia. His level of empathy and understanding of a racial dynamic that’s completely foreign to him impresses me and makes me love him more. He will never know what it feels like to be me, but he doesn’t minimize the challenges I face.
I don’t expect my White friends and acquaintances to be activists who march and wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts. But I do expect them to use their mouths to do more than recite empty platitudes and remind us that everyone’s entitled to their opinion.
I feel lucky to have him in my life, as well as my White friends who get it or are at…