• H. Rick Goff

I HAVE A BLACK FRIEND

BY AUSTIN GOFF


If you know me, you already know that I grew up in predominantly white areas. Unfortunately, that means you also know that I've experienced more forms of implicit and explicit racism than I bother to keep track of. One of the most overplayed defenses of these actions is "I have a black friend". I wrote this to show you what that sounds like to people like me.


While this is a deliberate and unapologetic call out to those of you who have done this or continue to do this, it is absolutely not meant to shame or belittle you. I won't shame you for something you didn't understand was a problem. But that is the conversation I want to start and the heart of the issue. This is to shine a light on the importance of understanding the implications of what you say and how it affects the black people in your lives. What so many people fail to realize is that although you, your friends, or your family members may not be racist, your unintentional words, actions, or inactions can be.


I Have A Black Friend

I can’t be racist, I have a black friend. I can ask to touch your hair, I have a black friend. I can say the word if it’s in the song, I have a black friend. I can tell you how well-spoken you are, I have a black friend. I can say you must be good at sports, I have a black friend. I can ask you to rap, I have a black friend. I can say you’re in school because of Affirmative Action, I have a black friend. I can lock the door when you walk by, I have a black friend. I can accuse you of a crime you did not commit, I have a black friend. I can call the cops on you because your presence made me uncomfortable, I have a black friend. I don’t have to speak up for you, I have a black friend. I don’t have to listen to you, I have a black friend. I don’t have to educate myself, I have a black friend. I don’t need to re-examine my past mistakes, I have a black friend. I don’t have to confront my own biases, I have a black friend. I don’t have to acknowledge your struggle, I have a black friend. I don’t have to mourn your death, I have black a friend. If your black friend is nothing more than an excuse, you are not their friend. Do better.

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