How to Lose a Friend Over One Racist Post
There comes a time when we can’t look the other way
I was falling in love the morning my grandma died. It was December 2017, and I was snuggled in bed with a woman I’d met just a few months before. We giggled and kissed under the comforter as we greeted the chilly Southern California morning together. When we finally broke apart to check our phones, I saw a Facebook message from a cousin simply announcing, “Grandma is gone.”
A week later, I sat in my aunt’s living room in Louisiana, surrounded by parents, cousins, uncles, aunts, and other kin. Fully hoping to escape the moment, I checked Facebook and saw post after post extolling the virtues of Black women. The night before, exit polls had revealed that Black women voters were instrumental in electing Doug Jones, a Democratic nominee for Alabama’s special Senate election.
“Black women saved us,” one post read.
“Black women are the reason Doug Jones won. Treat them with respect,” declared another.
After scrolling down a few more posts and seeing this sentiment repeated over and over, my heart sank.
I am a Black woman. And, for me, these posts felt like a punch in the gut. They inferred that I mattered as a means of putting a candidate others wanted in office. They burdened me with making decisions that others were too selfish or lazy to make. Each post made me feel like I was more valuable as a bar on a graph than as the actual Black human walking in the world. I matter—no matter who I vote for—simply because I exist.
So I wrote a post, avoided calling anyone out by name, and shared my thoughts. Whatever the intent of my friends’ statements about Black women, they caused me pain. And that wasn’t a pain I had the space to hold. The loss of my grandmother was radiating through my every waking moment. Also, I believe the truest indicator of friendship is the ability to have tough and vulnerable conversations. If I can’t tell my friends they’ve offended me, I’m not sure how good our relationships were in the first place.
Some of my friends thanked me for my honesty. Some people argued their intent, thinking it would negate the offense I felt. But one…