White Friends: The Black Squares Were Cute, But What Are You Going To Do Now?
First let me say this:
This is going to be uncomfortable for many of you to read. You are going to get defensive. Many of you won’t even bother to finish. The ones who do will probably roll their eyes. And the few that get it, will truly get it.
Here we go again.
Or better yet,
Many of my white friends will never truly have the privilege of fearing that what happened with Jacob Blake and his children, or Brittany Gilliam and her nieces, will happen to you.
I promise that I am not saying that to alienate any allies, nor potential ones.
But let’s be honest. You need to ask yourself…do you truly fear this?
If the answer is no, thank you for being honest. I am hoping that you will understand why it is imperative that you — yes, you, white friends — use your voices to make a change.
The onus is no longer on Black people to correct what YOUR ancestors started.
Yes, your Pinterest perfect signs were pretty and Instagram worthy, the black squares are an enhancement on your feed if people want to check to see if you are about that life. However, that — combined with the fists in the air — do nothing when I have to fear that every single time my husband or son leaves the house to go to the store, walk the dog, check the mail or hell, just cut our grass, that it could be the last time I see them.
What about when I have to leave to go to Brookhaven so that I can take my five- and seven-year-old girls to gymnastics or cello? The possibility that we could be pulled over, forced onto the pavement and handcuffed with guns pointed at us, because of an “error,” is a real fear of mine.
How is this fair to me, my husband, and most importantly my children?
It does not help matters when we have tone-deaf POC like former Gov. Nikki Haley telling millions of people that essentially our collective Black pain is made up because she, a brown skinned, woman made it.
The same brown skinned woman who rejected her faith so she could run for public office.
The same brown skinned woman who changed her name to Nikki, so it would be more palatable for the white Republican residents of South Carolina.
Because to her, and the audience she spoke to, she essentially let them all know in one simple statement that Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, George Floyd, and countless others did something to provoke their deaths.
What was that lie she helped perpetuate?
Okay, Nikki girl.
It’s a lie as bold as “All men are created equal” while simultaneously enslaving hundreds of thousands, while forcing hundreds of thousands more off of the land they rightfully owned.
Because according to Nikki, no racial issues in America means that this simply did not happen.
But wait … you suffered PTSD because of it.
So the pain and mental health that YOU experienced by proxy in a race-related murder are real. But the COLLECTIVE pain experienced by African Americans every day due to systemic racism and other unfair and unjust practices thrust upon us isn’t?
There are too many “errors” being made in a system that was supposedly put in place to serve and protect. People are being killed, children are being traumatized, all in the name of what?
If you know the answer to that, please tell me, because right now I have no idea what it is.
We can’t say #BlackLivesMatter loudly enough for them to get it, so white friends and family, you need to step it up.
It is going to take more than protesting from you all. We appreciate it, we do. But time after time, we are being shown that our voices mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Our actions will always be misconstrued to fit a narrative that we are violent thugs who don’t know our place, even when we rightfully belong there.
It’s going to take more than unfriending the racist Facebook friend or avoiding Thanksgiving with Nana this year. Let’s be clear, your racist friends and family members have always been that way. You just ignored it. You do not get bonus points for choosing to stand up to them now. It’s great and all, but why didn’t you check them sooner?
It’s talking to them. You know, having the tough, uncomfortable conversation that I am having right now with you. And even if they yell MAGA at you, or throw in the welfare queen stereotype, or perpetuate the Black on Black crime lie, YOU, white friends who are down for the cause, need to stay the course.
You need to talk to your children and tell them it’s not funny or cute to call their Black friend “Oreo,” or to let them know that they “aren’t that kind of Black.”
Let them know that our Black children hurt when those things are said to them.
Tell them “no, it’s not okay to touch someone’s hair.” That is an invasion of their personal space. And it’s not okay to ask either.
If you have white friends who are teachers, tell them they can work a little harder to get the Black child’s name correct in their class this year. Because if they can say or even spell Tchaikovsky, then I promise they can say AND spell Chanel the correct way without trying to purposely embarrass the child.
Lastly, it’s telling your influencer friends #DiversityIsNotATrend and meaning it. It’s when they make comments about how a “black square” is going to throw off their feed, that you check them at that moment. It’s about not hiding from these tough conversations with your friends because you don’t want to lose that “connect.” It’s about putting actions behind your words and not ghosting when you see your Black friends speak up, and they get railroaded by your white friends.
We have to remember sometimes saying her name on your Instagram stories isn’t enough when there is a long history of this.
Nor is it enough when there is a running list of lives lost due to police brutality.
My life is not a trend.
My husband’s life is not a trend.
My children’s life is not a trend.
Diversity is not a trend.
And ARREST THE COPS THAT KILLED BREONNA TAYLOR.
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