Dear (Un)Friend

I thought you were smarter than the lies he's telling you.

Dear (Un)Friend,

This election has not only torn apart our country, but torn apart our friendship. I’ve seen your comments on Facebook and Twitter, and the only words that can really explain how I feel about you right now are disappointed and disgusted. I thought you saw me as your friend. You can’t have it both ways. You may not be a racist, but Trump’s views are racist, and you just voted for a man that has professed his racist views. I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t support some of his policies and not all of his policies, not when his policies include an attack on my freedom. Don’t tell me it’s not personal, it’s very personal.

I thought you were smarter than the lies he’s telling you. I thought you had more tolerance and more empathy than you’re currently exhibiting. You say it’s not about race and that you support him because he’s different. You say it’s because of Obamacare and his promises to “drain the swamp.” You say it’s nothing personal and that Hillary supporters need to “suck it up and move on.” I say you aren’t the person who I thought you were, and I don’t think that I can be friends with you. That’s about the only thing that isn’t complicated.

Things have changed. We’re fundamentally different people. Our life experiences and views on the world are incompatible. You think that you understand what it’s like to be me, but it would blow your mind.

We are not perceived or treated equally, period. As a child you weren’t forced to leave a baseball tournament because it was getting dark in Stone Mountain, Georgia, no place for a black single mom and her son in the late 80s and early 90s. You haven’t had the embarrassment of having your locker searched in front of your classmates when a teacher’s wallet went missing.

You don’t constantly hear the surprise in a stranger’s voice when you tell them that you’re a lawyer. You’ve never been told that when you succeed, it was America that made it all possible, but if you fail you’re letting down your entire community. You don’t have to affirm your whiteness like I constantly have to affirm my blackness. You don’t have the psychological scars of a child who had to navigate a world where he was told he was “acting white” by some classmates and a called a “mutt” or a “n*gger” by others. These aren’t jokes talked about on black twitter. This is my life, my reality, and it’s harsh.

You say you don’t necessarily support Donald Trump but you simply support the change that he promises to bring. You say that your vote was a repudiation of Hillary Clinton. You keep trying to separate his racism from his populism while ignoring the fact he got in bed with white nationalism. You made a choice, and those choices have consequences.

You have a good job. You have a roof over your head. You have food in your stomach. You have luxuries that 99% of the world only dreams of. When is enough, enough? How much is my peace of mind worth to you? How much cheaper does your health insurance have to be? How much lower does unemployment have to be before my freedom is negotiable. Let me be clear, I’m not upset that you revealed who you are, for that I am grateful. I’m upset because I was wrong about something that I thought I understood. I was wrong about you.

This is about what things should be labeled worth fighting for and what things should be labeled as negotiable. This is about who we are at our core. Donald Trump doesn’t believe that “We the people” includes the very people that you call your friends. Did you think he was joking when he said he’d deport Mexicans and Muslims? Did you think it was funny when he said that “laziness is a trait in blacks?” Did you think it was okay when he degraded women? Did you just miss the five hundred times he treated minorities like second class citizens?

If the current situation was flipped on it’s head, and you were a vulnerable minority, wouldn’t you be scared? Wouldn’t you be worried that you wouldn’t be treated fairly? These decisions have consequences.

I hope you’ll stop saying that people who are upset are “overreacting” and realize that it’s coming from a place of fear and frustration. I hope he doesn’t do all the things he swore he would. I hope he ends up being the fraud that I always swore he was. I also hope, at the end of the day, you find your way back to the person I used to be such good friends with. I hope that one day I can call you my friend. Until then, I have to un-friend you.

CONVERSATIONS