We're moving! Get our latest gender and identity coverage on washingtonpost.com.

Discussion of news topics with a point of view, including narratives by individuals regarding their own experiences

Hi friend,

It’s me: your black friend.

You know me. That black friend from high school, summer camp, college or work. The one that makes you feel cool. That black friend that doesn’t threaten your whiteness, doesn’t hold you accountable. That black friend that makes you comfortable all the time. That black friend you claim is “not like other black people.” The one whose blackness you dilute.

I am the friend who never calls you out. I am the friend you prop up and use and take pictures of to put on your mantle as evidence that you are not racist. Like it’s a decoration you bought at Target.

Do you see me yet?

Can you picture me in your head now? Can you hear my voice in these words like I’m actually there with you? Like I’m sitting right across from you.

Do you see me yet?

I’m just checking on you. It’s been a while since we’ve talked. The world is going through a lot lately and with it, I’ve been going through a lot of changes, too.

I’m not the black friend you used to know.

In fact, I was never the black friend you knew.

I was a shadow of myself. I was a watered-down version of me. The one that I thought you could stand. I thought if you could see me as a person first, maybe you’ll care for me and what’s happening — what’s been happening — to my people. I thought you would listen. I thought you would believe me.

Because I’m your friend.

But I failed.

Because when Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and Freddie Gray died, you screamed about businesses and broken windows instead of broken bones and ended life. You complained about Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during your precious football game but would not once speak up about the injustice he was kneeling for. When I said #BlackLivesMatter, you argued that #AllLivesMatter.

My life became an argument.

Your black friend’s life became an argument.

You became a devil’s advocate. “See it from both sides,” you implored. You fought more for your right to have an opinion than you did for me to be able to breathe. Instead of listening to me, you sat and formed your arguments.

And I let you.

I let you because I thought maybe this was too much. Maybe I was too much. I had to take the high road, I told myself.

I made myself smaller for you.

But now your black friend is tired. Your black friend is tired of educating you. Your black friend is tired of doing work for you and letting you cheat off them like it’s high school. Your black friend is tired of giving more than is given. Your black friend is tired of arguing about their existence. Tired of being ignored.

Your black friend is tired of reading status after status about being “shocked and surprised” that racism is still this bad. Your black friend is tired of noticing how silent you are as you post pictures of your happy families and happy lives like this doesn’t affect you. Posting about “prayers for peace and love” instead of calls for systemic change. Posting an opinion about how a protest should be conducted instead of a link to donation sites supporting the families of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd or Breonna Taylor.

You have not once faced that your ancestors have benefited from the racism against black people. That you still benefit from it. Not once have you acknowledged that white people were the looters first. That white people looted the whole world for spices, for black and brown bodies, for land. That white people are still the looters now.

Not once have you faced that you might be an Amy Cooper inside. That all you need is a black body challenging you more than you can handle to set you off.

I am tired of you not doing the work.

Not doing the work it takes to understand, to listen, to read, to be better, to challenge yourself.

Not doing the work to see me.

Do you see me yet?

Your black friend is not hiding anymore. Your black friend is not making themselves palatable for you anymore. Your black friend is no longer watering down their blackness for you anymore.

Your black friend is angry. Your black friend is hurt. Your black friend is crying. Your black friend is screaming. Your black friend needs more from you. Your black friend needs you to speak up. Your black friend needs to breathe because they never had a breath to begin with.

Your black friend needs you to be their friend.

Your silence, your need to be a devil’s advocate, your white allyship without work is no longer acceptable. Your passiveness is no longer acceptable.

More is needed. More is expected.

You either see all of me or don’t see me at all.

You are either for black lives or you are not.

My life matters more than your comfort.

Do you see me yet?

Because I see you.

What does it mean to come together as Asian American women? This group has been seeking an answer.

The Cosmos was formed in 2017, and its future hangs in the balance

Law schools are failing to prepare the next generation of leaders in reproductive rights and justice

As of 2019, less than one-third of law schools offered classes on these topics

When my plants wither, it feels like a reflection of my own setbacks

Taking care of myself and my plants can be an uphill battle