Friendships & Race…Black Women & White Women 2011 edition

Today’s post is a repost from July 9, 2008…funny because this topic was on my mind today and before I sat down to write a post, I decided to look it up. That said, while some things I mention in this post are clearly not as relevant today, many still are as I find myself lamenting that back in 2008 I spent a lot of time alone and three years later I still do. Since the time of this original post, I have gone out of my way to meet more people and make connections but in the end there is only one person in Maine I truly feel is a friend. Oddly enough ours was the friendship that almost didn’t happen due to the awkwardness over race. Yet we both took a chance and over the years have addressed the issue of race and in doing so, she is no longer my white friend but my friend who is white and I am her friend who is Black.

But in trying to connect with others particularly women who happen to be white, I still feel that my Blackness at times is a barrier to moving beyond the acquaintance stage, funny that I don’t feel this when it comes to men. Too many times I feel people just don’t know what to say and that puzzles me, what do you say to anyone? I wonder if in our haste to never offend we simply are afraid to go deeper to make those connections.

Yes as woman of different races, we have our differences especially if you have never spent time around a woman of color but ultimately we can have many similarities as well. I am at the stage that while I am not going to beg anyone to be my friend, I admit, I admit I miss the camaraderie of getting together with the girls.

That said I am thankful for my one dear friend who I get and gets me even when she says I don’t get that hair thing…its okay there are a lot of things I don’t get either.

Since moving to Maine, I have spent a lot of time by myself, since when I made the decision to relocate 1100 miles away from family and friends it pretty much meant re-starting over as far as friends. Don’t get me wrong I still have some close friends back in Chicago but the one thing that is missing for me here is just some girls to kick it with. Either Sex and the City Style or Girlfriends style since I couldn’t convince any of my friends back in Chicago to move out with me and the family. (don’t know why they didn’t want to come, LOL)

That said, making friends as an adult, plain ole sucks. It sucks even more when you are a Black woman living in the whitest state in America. That said after a few years the realization that if I were ever going to even have any casual grab a drink buddies, that I might need to expand my horizons to include white women has always left me feeling unsettled.

Now some might find the fact that I am not comfortable with white girlfriends a bit laughable especially when you consider that I have a white husband. I will admit maybe I have some deep down prejudice but the truth is that since the age of 17, its been real hard for me to ever get past the casual acquaintance stage with 99% of the white women I meet. The only exception has been my girl “C” back in Chicago, we used to work together in fact she was my boss, she can work my nerves but on some levels she is the only white woman I have met as an adult who is not walking around with that attitude and air of privilege that seems to infect so many white women at an early age.

No, truthfully my experience is that most white women are looking for a “Mammy” to their Scarlett or maybe even a nice warm Oprah to call a friend and this sista is not the one. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t try to be a bitch, I try to give folks the benefit of the doubt but inevitably on some level it just is never a match. That said I know I am not the only sista who suffers from this dilemma, I recently saw Sex & The City, the movie and was down right offended that one of the girls finally gets a Black “friend”. Carrie needs an assistant and hires Louise (played by Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, damn a Oscar winner can’t do better than being a modern day Mammy), interestingly enough I saw this movie with some white woman and while they generally enjoyed the movie, me, I was fuming over how come the helper, the savior had to be a sista? Super Negro woman to the rescue to help restore the fallen white women, um.. no, at this stage in my life that shit is just not happening. I wanna know where is my Mammy to make it all right?

Then again, I thought about it on a large scale, sistas are often portrayed as being strong women, yet white women can just be human and on some level I have seen that at work in my real life relationships. If and when a Black woman shows emotion, its like folks cannot handle it so we stifle that shit which we all know is a bad bad thing, hello health problems.

Even well meaning white women who try to connect with a sista still get it wrong since even when a white woman is not looking for her long lost Mammy, the opposite end is trying so hard that a sista starts feeling like a special Negro pet project. Yep, I have been there, done that and that too does not work for the kid.

I was thinking about the recent primary season here in America and while there were sistas who supported Hillary, there were those of us who just could not buy into her brand of feminism that her white female supporters were selling..

After all many of the loudest and most ardent Hillary supporters where women who cracked the glass ceilings back in the 80′s while keeping some 3rd world woman of color at home tending to her family. As a young Black woman, what would I have in common with that? Not a thing. Its the reason that for sistas like myself feminism will never appeal to me, at least not in the form most commonly espoused by old skool feminists.

Perhaps white women and black women can one day find a common ground when white women can acknowledge the inherent privilege they have by virtue of being white. Until then I suspect most white women will just be casual acquaintances.

A Vivid Visit to Faithful Place…Book Review

Sorry to interrupt the flow of normal programming but time to promote my latest book review for the Blogher Book Club.

Sure, on the face of it, Tana French’s Faithful Place is a crime novel, mystery novel, thriller… whatever your preferred term. There is a death that starts things rolling (although it is an old murder) and there is a murder that follows that in present time, as a direct consequence of the ongoing investigation. To read more, check out my full review….

Not a just world but we can change it

Like millions last night, I waited to see if justice would be served in the case of Troy Davis, instead as we would all learn after a three hour reprieve while the United States Supreme Court met on the matter, we would all learn for Troy there would be no justice. Instead at 11:08 pm Eastern Daylight Time, Troy would pass from this realm to the next one. Where presumably things are just, on this side though there was a collective wailing and gnashing of teeth as many pondered how could this injustice happen?

The truth is we all live with injustice every day, the reality is when our souls are thrust into this realm on planet Earth, it’s a cosmic craps game. Who we are born to greatly determines how just things will be for us in many ways. Sure we eventually grow up and at a certain point can choose to change the narrative of our life but who we are born to, and how we are raised for the first 17-18 years of our lives greatly determines and plays heavily on whether we see more justice or injustice. Born to poor, brown folks in the United States and you happen to be male? You automatically start the race off with a disadvantage that will only grow as you get older. Happen to be born to financially well off white folks? The game favors you.

In my work, I see injustices daily, a world where little kids go to bed hungry but less than 20 miles away, the former leader of the free world lives part of the year with great opulence and all his needs being met. We could call it fucked or as I like to say it seems unjust.

Yet knowing that the world is not just and that all things are not fair as even small kids learn early on, it’s not enough to name an injustice, you have to move on it. No matter who we are, or what our limitations we can work to make this little ball we are all living on a better place until either it blows up or we let our greed destroy the place. I write this piece thinking of my kids especially my 19 year old son, a young man of color hoping that we the big folks can serve as models to make our kids strive to make this place a little less unjust. Make no mistake though when we decide that justice is what we seek, we give up a lot. I live daily knowing at this stage in my life, financial success will probably always be elusive because I choose to work at the grassroots level. Not too many folks pulling in big bucks at that level, but my rewards are many, it’s the talk I had yesterday with a mother who is a recovering addict who just gave birth to her 4th child yet she is clean and sober. It’s staying connected to the folks who were born into far more unjust situations than I yet never losing sight of what that is like and doing my best to be that voice for the voiceless.

Troy Davis’s last words spoke to a man who in 22 years had made peace with his situation and himself, never giving up the fight but knowing he might lose the battle. Yet if one person feels compelled to get involved in a meaningful way than an injustice has been reversed.

Some injustices we have no say in it, but others we can choose to right by our actions.