Perhaps it would be good here to start with where the name of this blog, “Tales From Your One Black Friend” originated from:
For the majority of my life, I have spent most of my time in predominately white communities. Whether it was growing up as a METCO student in Brookline, Mass.; getting my bachelor’s at the University of New Hampshire, or working at some of the most important health and academic institutions in Massachusetts, I’ve often been either been one of few or the only Black person or person of color, period.
I know for many of my friends, I was the first and sometimes the only Black person they were more than acquaintances with. For many I was the first (and only) woman of color they ever kissed or dated. I was and continue to be the only Black person at the Doobie Brothers concert, or the only person of color at the pool party, your wedding, your child’s birthday party, etc. It’s a world I’m inhabited so long, I feel like I’ve been gifted a special view into a world so few have visited.
This makes me also want to “give back” and help those who have not lived a life in diverse communities or around people of color (black, Asian, Latino, etc.) and provide some insight that might be helpful. So there are two things that are currently on my mind that I feel I must be vocal on, one that means a lot to me (personally) this summer…the other, that means a lot to the world.
I know it’s pretty…but PLEASE, for the love all things holy…don’t touch my hair without asking.
Let me bring you back to May 1999. I’m excited to be graduating the University of New Hampshire (as one of 12 black females on a campus of 12,000 students for four years) and I’m selling my last textbook back at the college bookstore. Ready to accept $10 back on my Computer Science textbook that originally cost $95, I feel this very strong pull on my single braids.
For those who don’t know what single braids are, see below:
I immediately turned around, thinking I had caught them again on something when I turned to a random woman, two handedly rubbing up and down one of my braids, still attached to my head (thankfully). Now, anyone who remembers me during these four years knows the kind of stuff I dealt with as a person of color at UNH (another day, a different blog entry) but will know by the end of my four years, I was ready to #GTFO out Durham, NH.
Without a breathe, I quickly pulled my braid back from her and said, “Slavery ended in 1865. This hair and me are not on display. Please don’t touch me, I don’t know you.”
Now, I admit that this may come off a little rough, but remember: I don’t know this person and she is touching my body. Yes, it’s an extension (e.g. fake hair) and didn’t grow directly from my body, but I wouldn’t want some stranger coming up and grabbing my jeans, shirt, or bra either. Where have those hands been??
I remember she started to tear up, obviously ashamed of what she did, and I of course explained to her, that I “didn’t mean to be harsh” as much as she “didn’t mean” to put her hands on a stranger’s body (although, I’m pretty sure it’s been part of early childhood learning, since FOREVER that one shouldn’t invade someone’s personal space by putting their hands on anyone, without asking. )
Listen, the summer is upon us again, and my hair will again go through many transitions and styles, as is my way to #slayintheheat. Keep in mind: My husband got to second base before he touched my hair. If we don’t have that level of intimacy, just keep your (unclean) hands to yourself, please. Or at least ASK me first.
“So you’re planning to vote in Trump as President of the United States of America…”
When you like Trump, here’s a list of things that go through my head:
- When and how did WE become friends?
Do I only know you through my husband or a friend of a friend, or have we actually spent time in one another’s company on multiple occasions? There’s a significant difference in Facebook friendship vs. real life friendship. I’m like Chris Rock on this:
“There’s a new app that tells you which ones of your friends are racist. . .its called Facebook.”
- Are you a racist? Are you a bigot? How the hell did I miss the signs?
See, I take those quotes about “Be careful of the company you keep” or “If you lie with dogs, you get fleas” to heart. If you surround yourself with bigots, homophobes and misogynists, if you quote or re-tweet from White supremacists groups, if you vote for someone who blatantly says the following: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” Or can’t “disavow” strongly, truly and without wavering the support of the Klan or David Duke, if you think our current president, Barack Hussein Obama, is not an American citizen, even after you’ve seen his short and long form birth certificate, there’s a great chance I think you’re racist, or at least a little bit bigoted or a lil’ bit prejudice and yes, I’m making the following face when I think about you:
- Why are you so closeted about your presidential choice?
Isn’t it weird to feel so strongly about someone and not feel comfortable saying so or defending their words and ideas? I’m only saying if you are a true believer or supporter, you should speak freely. So, go ahead: Wear the t-shirt, post the bumper sticker, put the sign in the yard and wear that red hat.Otherwise, I’m wondering what about your candidate makes you, in short, feel too ashamed to proclaim him.
- Lastly, what do you REALLY think about me, my family, or my child?
Since having my daughter, I have to say my vision of the world has become even clearer. Everything I do, from my career to who I choose to spend my time with or call “friend” is determined by how I think it will ultimately affect my child. If I think you hold ANY bigoted, racist, ignorant thoughts about ANY group you should just assume you won’t be spending a lot of time with me or my family. I hear you… you like the fact Trump “speaks his mind” and “isn’t politically correct.” That’s cool, but does that mean you’ve been holding back your true feelings, thoughts and opinions from me? Baring the fact that the man speaks only opinion and rarely ever fact, what kind of friend then are you to me if you’re not honest? And more importantly, what are you really thinking or saying behind my back when I leave the room?
While I am optimistic that this election, this year and more importantly, this wonderful country will see positive change, there is a fear in my gut that many friendships will be tested and perhaps ended when November comes to pass. I guess when I pull that level in November, I will be revisiting my friends list, both on and offline.
— CC —