I lost a friend in 2020 when she realized I was Black. It had somehow escaped her notice in the years prior—so she was shocked when I started expressing “Black views” like refusing to agree that protesters of George Floyd’s murder were “thugs” engaged in, “non-sensical riots”.
There’s a difference between peaceful protest and violent riots. The majority of marches worldwide were the former, not the latter, and since I’m a fan of FACTS, I was unwavering in pointing out the distinction
My rebuttals were met with fervent attempts to illustrate her objectivity about race—-mounting a defense against a charge I never made. .
She led with the revelation that she & her husband befriended my husband and I because they DON’T SEE COLOR—citing as evidence a 1968 incident in which her husband was beaten up by Black kids at the fair.
The fact that this assault didn’t lead her husband to hate black people—was offered as proof of his “color blindness”— and the reason, all these decades later, they were willing to befriend us.
They didn’t see us as a BLACK couple. Only a couple.
The urgency of her tone was a compass pointing me to the expectation that I should be flattered by this perceived “open mindedness”.
I WAS NOT!
Because here’s the thing. We ARE a Black couple.
To say you don’t see us as Black implies that there is something inherently wrong WITH or undesirable ABOUT being Black, that a white person must look past to be in relationship with us.
I found the supposition offensive, though I didn’t believe offense was her intent.
With age and wisdom, I’ve learned to hold paradoxical tensions in balance. I could accept the absence of ill intent, and still give voice to my consternation.
I decided to err on the side of grace and make the effort to talk through the disconnect.
Because, I understand nuance.
I UNDERSTAND that we ALL filter life through the lens of our experience.
I UNDERSTAND that as a Mid-Western white woman, living a racially homogenous existence----she was filtering life through hers.
I UNDERSTAND that lack of first hand experience does NOT make someone a bad person. Only an ill informed one.
I UNDERSTAND that people are MORE than one issue about which we disagree—even if it’s a MAJOR issue.
AND I recalled that we were initially drawn into the orbit of friendship by the pull of common interests.
I didn’t want to lose sight of the shoreline of that history, as we drifted into the choppy waters of disagreement
Sadly, my understanding proved insufficient. And my willingness to navigate through a storm of disagreement proved futile.
We reached an impasse when my inbox was bombarded with YouTube conspiracy videos and right wing propaganda.
That was the first step onto the path of no return.
When my request to stop sending this type of material went unheeded—even after explaining why I found it offensive—we arrived at the last step on that path.
I was speaking into a void. I was talking. She wasn’t listening. I severed ties.
I am fine with agreeing to disagree. I am NOT fine my boundaries being disregarded.
It was an unfortunate parting of ways, but it was also an ANOMALOUS one.
I have MANY white friends. She is the only with whom I’ve had to sever ties in this fashion.
Here’s why I’m sharing this story:
Barring a vision impairment, there is no such thing as being color blind.
And why would anyone aspire to be?
I believe the beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people. I am grateful for a diverse set of friends.
I SEE color and DELIGHT in it. Color enhances our world. I don’t aspire to be color blind. I prefer instead to be color blessed!