I have this white friend.

I had many white friends at one point. Actually, for most of my young life, I only had 3 or 4 friends that were of colour because of the school I went to. As an adult, I am now trying to create a place of community, acceptance and belonging. This requires me to slowly but purposefully diversifying my friend groups.

I have this white friend, name and gender will remain unused. This friend has known me for a while, A long while. I would have assumed that this would mean that our friendship was strong enough for learning to happen and changes to take place. I had assumed that growing up would allow shaping to happen. But I feel that I am wrong. This friendship is decaying.

It has become clear that the difference in the colour of skin and the lens of our experiences has caused a deep divide. I only mention this one white friend because this friendship seems to be something that I and this friend value. We are holding on with the hairs on our arms, not quite touching but close none the less.

All of my other naive white friends have chosen to be foolishly happy rather than fiercely supportive. They made their choices a while ago. We are no longer friends. They made their choices, I made mine and now they live in their bubbles of unconscious white fake-bliss and I live in the world, ugly, beautiful and true.

This friend of mine though, the will is there, I can feel it at times and I look into a face hoping to see fire. But the eyes are wide and fearful, docile. I have been advised and consoled and told by our mutual friends that a conversation needs to be had. “Food must be split between you two,” they suggest. “Wine must be spilt on your parted lips.” They have many suggestions and ideas. I hear them. I do.

But this issue, in fact, is with the larger group of my white friends. Those who know of the situation and look on in bewilderment as I struggle to breathe the area in these social spaces that we gather in together. Individually, these white friends of mine have made efforts to meet me half way. I will not lie and say that I have made it easy. I can be a heartless bitch at times. No lies.

I know that when my heart is bleeding I can be scaled and cold. But half way is where we needed to be, where we need to be and where often we are not. The challenge is not mine. The challenge belongs to those who have come from the naive place and have moved out of it or move easily in and out of it. In this situation, I choose to speak of whiteness as a consciousness rather than a colour.

This friend of mine is white in her consciousness, the fact that she too is white in her hue, is neither here nor there. Her state of being in this world is unconscious and therefore easy and pleasurable while everyone else around her is painfully transforming into butterflies.

My school friends have commented on my change of consciousness since leaving school 10 years ago. I have welcomed this conversation the same way that I have welcomed the change. The feelings sadly are not reciprocated when I point out how many of them have not changed consciousness or feelings toward having the conversation. We were 18, foolish, naive and cushioned 10 years ago. How have you not changed?!

You see, many of us went to a Waldorf school in which 10 years ago, there were only + – 10 black people in the entire school. (10 is being generous). In primary school I was 1 of 4 black people in a whole school, and the only black person in my grade.  These conversations of consciousness did not come up. There was no space for them. No language, no nothing.

We Waldorf pupils grew up in a European school structure filled with maypole dancing and gnomes. We learned about dragons and fairies and magical mystical creatures. Our education was incredible but separated us from reality dangerously. It is only now, that my schools are beginning slowly to begin asking for help to diversify space. Only now.

Dear white friend, it is not my job to hold your hand while you struggle out of your cocoon and stretch you beautiful big wings in the warm light of reality. I can take your hand when you are flying. I would love to hold your hand and fly with you, I need your hand. But I can not help you out.

Step up. Step out. Somebody help this friend of ours. It is not my job. My blackness is tired.



One thought on “I have this white friend.

  1. As a white South African who took this journey to step out… it has been a long one… and Mandela’s wise example has always been my inspiration to continue in this journey of leaning in to others…to recognize my white consciousness and privilege. I have come a long way… it has taken time… it has taken intentionality, listening, getting offended but not shutting down and choosing to put my ignorant pride away time and time again… I am sure I have further to go. I pray for South Africa. I pray for awareness. I pray for the oppression that Apartheid put into our white consciousness to be lifted to allow room for humility, awareness and change. Thank you for speaking up and being bold about it. And for not hiding the hard truth. We need to hear these truths. You have a powerful message.


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