Dear White Friends: Here is an FAQ for 5 some of the most commonly asked questions I Have Seen or Heard

I know.
As a white friend,
You haven’t said much about racism,
And when you have,
You have treaded,
Very lightly.
Truth is,
You were probably a lil scared,
You’d say something wrong,
And end up 
With a common ailment, 
among many white people with black friends,
Foot In Mouth Syndrome.
Let me assure you,
you are not alone.
As we sit on the receiving end of the conversation,
We are silently thinking,
“Dear Lord,
While we appreciate this conversation,
Please don’t let this end up,
In the 
“off limits” territory.
There are questions
And comments we prefer 
You never ask
Or make. 
You may be wondering what some of them are, 
So, I thought I’d share.
FAQ: Conversations on Race with Black Friends
FAQ: #1 Are there certain things I shouldn’t ask or say when talking to my Black friends about racism?
The answer is, Yes.
Here are a few examples below of questions you should NOT ask:
  1. Are you sure it was racism?
  2. How do you know he/she meant it that way?
  3. I don’t think she treated you that way because of your race.
  4. I experienced a similar situation.
  5. Any variation of the above.
After reading these questions,
You may be thinking,
Why are these questions not ok to ask? 
You have a point of view, too.
And need to be heard.
Why do Black people not care how you feel?
And acknowledge
We BOTH need to be heard.
My answer would be,
would you ask 
a close friend who’s been the victim 
Of a physical assault 
she is sure...
she was really...
physically attacked?
Would you ask her
If she was sure the person
To attack her
Would you ask her about her feelings, 
How you can help,
And be a support?
You’re probably saying that’s different.
I would argue otherwise.
The primary difference is
In physical instances you can point to visible evidence to confirm the existence of the attack.
There are bruises,
And wounds,
And scars that are visible,
And confirm in your mind,
The attack occurred.
No questions asked.
But if we’re honest, 
even if there was no evidence,
you would probably still believe your friend,
Because you know her,
And you know she’d never make up such an egregious,
We need you to believe us.
I promise you,
My racism experiences 
Have Left me feeling Bruised,
And silenced.
Like many assault victims,
I can tell you with great clarity,
the racial assaults were committed,
By whom,
And the injuries,
I still experience.
But yet and still,
I am being questioned,
By my friend,
As to whether the incident happened,
If my recollection is correct,
Or if I know the intent of the asssailant?
Do you see how ridiculous this is to the victim of the assault?
How insensitive?
They were there.
They felt and experienced the attack.
The feelings are fresh.
The bruises and scars are still there,
Even if you do not see them.
The questions are
FAQ 2:  Why do y’all get so mad or cry or shut down when we’re just trying to ask you a question? Don’t you care about our opinion?
Refer to FAQ #1
And ask yourself 
Do you believe physical abuse, Verbal abuse, And emotional abuse exist?
If your close friend told you they were the victim of any of the above,
Would you challenge them?
This is not the time to challenge Us.
This is the time to challenge the system,
That continues to hurt and abuse us,
Without any witnesses,
Be a witness to the crimes 
Make an effort to “see” the crimes
Not defend them.
FAQ 3: Someone called me a racist. I know I’m not a racist. Should I defend myself?
Ok. Let me start by clarifying,
Black and white people often have
Two very different definitions of racism.
The White definition tends to be more rigid,
And literally black and white.
You think racism occurs when
A Black person is called the “N” word,
Or Says out right,
“I don’t like Black people.”
While these incidents 
Very much 
Do happen,
They happen with much less frequency than,
The less obvious occurrences,
The silent crimes of racism,
Your eyes are not even trained to see.
They’re subtle,
Like when I was told many times,
“You’re not like the other black people I know. I like/love you“
Or, When I was asked,
“How did I get that job”
Or when I’m in a mostly white space 
And people assume I don’t belong 
That I’m not a “member, or a resident or an invited guest”
when people question (subtly of course)  my knowledge or intellect to validate I “belong “ in these non diverse spaces. 
Or, the fact that I am 4x times more likely to die in childbirth than my white mom counterparts,
regardless of education or socio-economic status. 
Or, why on average I make 37% less than my white counterparts for the same position (see the SHRM report below).
This racism
is one more of a proverbial dagger,
an invisible assault,
On my sense of belonging
And right to exist 
In “certain” spaces.
That is racism.
When I’m the only,
or one of a few black people in predominantly white spaces, 
the strong implication, 
Is that People like me,
Well spoken people
Like me,
are an exception,
That is uncommon,
In my race,
And therefore,
You can only “find” a few of us
to join your white spaces.
Racism excludes.
It is subtle.
It is common,
And very much,
And for my Christian friends,
The difference in the definition of racism between your Black and White friends,
is kinda like the difference between when Moses gave us the Ten Commandments as a measure of sin, and then Jesus expands the definition of sin to include heart issues and invisible sins in the New Testsment.
Racism is an invisible,
Heart sin.
And it’s not what you think.
So, should you defend yourself?
I’d say probably not.
Instead I’d encourage you ask 
How was your behavior racist?
Apologize for the pain you inadvertently caused.
And begin to understand unconscious bias,
And racism,
FAQ 4: You have a black friend and he/she doesn’t share the opinion of another black friend on the racism. Or, you heard a Black person on tv or on the news who doesn’t share the same experience of your black friend on racism. Should I share that with you?
Before I answer why,
I want you to repeat the above statement 
“I have a black friend and he/she doesn’t share your opinion on the racism you experienced.”
I want you to replace
the word “racism” with word  “physical assault.”
Now repeat the sentence.
I have a black friend and he/she doesn’t share your opinion on the physical assault you experienced.”
You see how ridiculous that sounds.
I would then question,
why are you even trying to challenge my experience?
To prove it doesn’t exist?
To prove things aren’t as bad as I think?
Would you challenge any other victim that way?
You wouldn’t.
So it’s best to just keep that thought to yourself,
And challenge the right things,
The structures, 
The Policies,
And inequalities
FAQ 5: Is it ok to tell my black friends how bad I feel, and cry and tell them I love them and invite them over for dinner or to lunch or send them a text how much I support them?
Short answer.
While we appreciate your tears, what we really need is your commitment: to identify and expose lack of inclusion and diversity. We need you to question why there are not more people of color at all levels of the organizations and in the places you work, worship and engage. See blog post.
So if you’ve made it to the end,
You’re probably thinking,
Wow, that’s a lot.
You may feel like I’m regulating,
What you can 
and cannot say.
I want you to know, 
I’m not saying what you can or cannot say,
But what I am saying is...
if you are serious,
About having a serious conversation about race,
with a black friend,
In hopes of a positive outcome,
of mutual understanding and respect,
Please don’t ask the above.
If you do, 
You’ll likely get thrown into a new category you didn’t even know existed.
“Like Everybody Else”
The one
Friends are categorized 
who are quick to challenge 
and question my racist experiences,
very slow,
To validate, point out and confront,
Those same experiences,
It’s not
Their experience.
I promise 
You will never understand it,
And truthfully 
I wish I didn’t have to.
Please know,
That is a privilege 
I wish I had friend.
Additional readings:

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