Home > Personal, Race > The issue isn’t white but black

The issue isn’t white but black

black and white

I idolize wanting friendship and more contact with people of the same race. One of the common complaints I have about my life is that I don’t have contact with enough black people. I have plenty of white friends—that’s no issue. I have a set of diverse friends: Filipino, Indian/Sikh, Ethiopian/Muslim. But few black friends. I actually can count on one hand the number of black friends who aren’t related to me. My white friends are too numerous to count.

This is a problem. Somehow I’ve made it an issue that it’s important to surround myself with more black friends so I can be more “in tune” with black culture. I don’t fully understand the talk about white supremacy. I only partially understand the idea of white privilege and don’t fully agree with it. Ferguson was a big deal but how did it suddenly become a turning point in race relations? The deaths of Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and Sandra Bland are tragic, but how are they significant in the sense of how they play a larger role in racism?

You’d think because I’m black that these things would automatically make sense to me. But they don’t. I think Freddie Gray was surrounded by idiot cops, Tamir Rice was shot by a cop who should have never been let out of academy, and Sandra Bland paid the price of nervousness around a cop for failing to signal. (I have been guilty of the same when seeing a cop behind me; moving out of the way is instinctive and automatic. I make sure that my failing to signal doesn’t happen now.)

I don’t necessarily see race as the main factor in all these but I do think they play a role on some level. Had Sandra Bland been white, she would have had a slap on the wrist and been let go. A cop who saw a white boy with a gun would have been a bit more cautious about opening fire than making hasty judgments. And Freddie Gray was the victim of being a black man who seemed untrustworthy and would do or say anything to get out of being arrested.

I want to understand these things. I even want to understand these things to the point of agreeing with them. How is that white people get these concepts and I don’t? Is white guilt truly a thing that causes white people to hate themselves and blame their own race for injustices upon other races?

These are all questions I’m asking myself and wrestling with. I may never have a significant friendship with another black woman. And I need to be okay with that. Because I have friendships with wonderful people: secular and religious. They all teach me something and all make me a better person in different ways. And those kinds of friendships transcend all boundaries of race.

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  1. Sophia
    January 25, 2016 at 3:17 PM

    I think I get where you are coming from, as a black woman. I’m not sure how old you are but some of this may become clearer to you (emotionally) as you have more experiences. I felt similarly disconnected – for different reasons — but now I have greater empathy for people who suffer because of the small minds of other people. You have to experience it (or something parallel) to really “see it” and get it”. Otherwise it’s just in your head and not your heart.

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