current events · Philosophy · Society/Culture

I Lost a Friend Today (a sort-of letter)

I don’t make friends easily. It takes a while for me to open up. Only time and experience together can draw you in. (I think most people are probably this way.)

Once you’re my friend, though, I will move heaven and earth to help you and to be a good friend, to be there for you no matter what’s going on in your life.

I don’t lose friends easily, either. I believe in keeping them, old and new, and I try hard to value people for who they are.

We don’t have to believe in the same things (gods, political standpoints, you name it). Differences are healthy and can lead to growth and productive dialogue.

But don’t come up to me and launch into a tirade about how it’s not fair that you can’t scream, “White lives matter” at BLM posts on Facebook or at protesters in person without facing backlash. Don’t tell me how much “reverse racism” you keep seeing and how angry it makes you that “those people” still get special treatment for jobs and college.

Don’t tell me, on top of all of this, that you want Trump in the White House, despite his history of misogyny, racism, fomenting violence, and more.

This is not a simple difference in politics. This is you telling me that you basically want “white power” and you aren’t the least bit interested in true equality — and when you raise your voice to talk over me about it when I dare to disagree, it tells me you don’t care to even consider whether there’s another viewpoint that might be as valid as your own. You don’t want to be educated, you don’t want to hear facts on the matter, and you aren’t going to change your mind.

The worst part? You honestly thought I would understand your views and wholeheartedly agree with you.

You weren’t coming to me for an enlightening discussion, an exchange of views. You came to me to vent about “those people” and how unfair it all is for you.

I guess you confused my pale,  freckle-spattered skin and fiery hair with a white supremacist club card.

Oh, how little you know.

My mom was probably given up for adoption (based on what we know) because her father was black (or mixed race but deemed “too brown” to be acknowledged and/or forced to marry her mother). My grandparents — her adoptive parents — probably would have rejected her had they known this.

I told someone about this the other day, and her immediate response was, “Oh, that explains your hair — not the color, but you know.” Yeah, I know exactly what she meant. (My hair is extremely dry and frizzy. I co-wash, and I use thick shea butter cream and oil in it daily…stuff I found on the “ethnic” beauty aisle long before we knew anything about Mom’s history.) This other woman’s initial reaction was to put me down for a negative quality she deems “black.”

And if every ancestor I had for ten generations back was as white as printer paper, I would be just as livid as I am right now, thinking about the words I have heard and the things I have seen lately. Injustice burns my heart and I can’t stay quiet.

I’m also tired. I’m tired of feeling the impulse (squelched, over and over) to apologize for other people’s racist (or misogynistic, or…) behavior, or to make excuses for them.

If you’re a closed-minded, racist Trumpette, as is the case with my newly ex-friend, I have nothing left to say to you. It’s not that you don’t support the same candidate I do. It’s not that we are not politically aligned.

It’s that you don’t share a passionate desire to bring about greater equality than our society has managed to create thus far, and you aren’t fighting for the same future. Your vision scares me, no matter what I call myself or who my ancestors may have been.

Former friend, I hope your child(ren) will be wiser, kinder, more compassionate and more open-minded than their antecedents. Perhaps our kids could then be friends…but we cannot.

One thought on “I Lost a Friend Today (a sort-of letter)

  1. I have meaning to respond to your post, Melstery. I want to thank you for writing about your own life experience. Only by sharing our stories with others can we hope to affect a positive change. Your open letter spoke to me, so much in fact that I crafted my own post about the recent rhetoric running rampant through this country: https://kindredconnection.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/we-the-people/. The negativity and nastiness we are hearing and reading on a regular basis is unacceptable, and I for one have had enough.

    Sadly, I have had to “unfriend” a few people on both sides of the political and social issues spectrum because their diatribes were so horrible that there was no way that I could tolerate such hatred in my life and/or on my news feed. It hurts my heart when I am forced to make that choice, because I am always trying to see the good in others despite the bad. To walk away from a friend is not easy, and that decision will always pain me a bit because I don’t like to give up on others. Loyalty means a lot to me. But as you point out quite eloquently in your letter, sometimes calling it quits on a friendship with someone whose core beliefs are so fundamentally opposed to our own is the wisest thing we can do.

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