The older I have gotten, the more I have learned and realized who my true friends are, who I want in my tribe and who had to be left behind. Race is such a real topic. I know many like to sweep it under the rug and pretend like everything is fine, but the reality is, whether I like it or not, race is something that I (and many around the world) deal with on a daily basis.
I titled this post "Black Friend" because it was a pivotal moment in my personal growth when I realized the significant difference between being someone's friend and someone's "black friend."
Don't worry, I'll explain.
When I was a teenager, I had a group of friends that I was very close to, we always hung out, and talked almost every day. BFF's if you will :) But I remember vividly constantly being referred to or introduced as their "black friend, Stephanie." I look back now and wonder what the hell was wrong with me that I didn't see the red flags swinging in my face, but that's another post for another day. Black Friend. Let that sink in for a moment. I wasn't just their friend. I wasn't just a normal teenage girl. They didn't see me as Stephanie - they saw my skin color first.
I'll never forget the moment when I finally realized clear as day that my "friends" didn't view me as an equal human being. I know, I know, being the "black friend" wasn't enough? Clearly I like a good punch in the gut to really get the message across. Story-time: We were in a church youth group all together and of course as teenagers you have flings and start "talking" to a new guy or girl every once in awhile. Well, the person that I happened to like at the time was white. We wanted to "date" but since I was black, he had to talk to his parents first. They of course freaked out, started quoting the bible ... And you know the scripture about not being "unequally yoked?" Well, that was referenced for why blacks and whites shouldn't date one another. I remember meeting with my youth pastors because in my heart I knew that wasn't what God intended to mean by that verse, but I wanted to be sure. Then the discussion came about and I remember my friend saying to me, "you know, I don't know that I'd let my child date a black person either." Wow.
That was the moment. That was the moment when I realized that not only do my friends not see me as an equal human being, but that there is still a serious problem in our society when it comes to race. I think up until that moment I had blinders on and I always tried very hard to believe that the world we live in wasn't "that bad" or that it would never happen to me. But clearly I was wrong.
My entire outlook changed after that, and even though I remained friends with them for some time, it was always in the back of my mind. I don't want to be your "black friend," I just want to be your friend.
When I met my husband, one of the reason's why I loved him so much was for his heart and passion for supporting our community. Now that we have children of our own, raising them to be aware and not naive to our society is always top of mind. But it's also important to me that they have the same heart for people that my husband does. I want them to be WOKE but I also want them to be compassionate young men.
I'm grateful for the experience because it woke me up and shook out the naive parts of me that I didn't realize were there. I'm happy to just be Stephanie these days - a fun, loving friend, who likes to laugh, drink wine, spend way too much on new clothes and watch more Bravo TV than you need to know about ;)
Can anyone else relate to this topic? It only took 13 years for me to write it (literally)! I think there's a time and season for everything. It felt right to share now.
Thank you so much for stopping by the blog. Love you guys!
XO - Steph
Photography by the ever so talented Banavenue Photography