Remember our conversations on the 4 train at 2am? The conversations that left us sitting on grey benches, uncomfortable in our silence until you got to your stop.
The conversations were mostly me speaking about how impossible navigating Fordham University was. I was beginning to hate white people. You said hate was a strong word, that it was probably culture shock--the same you experienced it when you came back from your semester abroad in Costa Rica. But culture shock didn't suit me because the term points a finger at me, and I can carry the weight of difference, but even then, blame I would never claim. You liked Oswego because it was away from the loud ways of our city, because you had your BIG's, sisters, and Multicultural Greek life. You said maybe we were having different experiences because you went to a public school and I went to a private school. Never mind that I stood in the hood, and you went to Timbuktu but ok. I wonder if then you thought about your white skin privilege? Your passing privilege? Your they-don't-know-I'm-of-color-until-I-open-my-mouth-privilege. The fact that our experiences were different because my identifiers were scribbled around my throat not like a necklace but like a rope. Daily that rope was tugged, and I'd sit in those classes, close to edge, bitting my tongue, working not to explode into a confetti dream of Bronx girl. It was my retelling of this on the 4 train that left me feeling like the enemy was chilling in my skin, so we didn't speak for about a year. The privilege you've been given allowed us to come back together as if nothing had occurred in our breaking--I don't know if to love this aspect of white privilege because I missed you, so I am grateful in some twisted way.
Before you left on your mission we got matching palm tree tattoos. I got the tattoo because palm trees are like me, everywhere but from nowhere really; I like to call them a diasporic plant. I think you were doing for the tattoos because you like plants, you were feeling an urge to be bold, and because we both knew,on a subconcious level, that on an island of palm tress was where be where we would meet again. Now we are together on the island that unites us, and you're having a challenging homecoming for many reasons but race sinks at the bottom of all them like the rock you forgot. In your own way, you acknowledge the fact that we spoke this out years ago, but now because you see it I have to tolerate your silence as you look into glass screen with no internet. Your father is a racist, self-hating, white machista. He has said somethings in your presence and you're offended even though what he says is not about you. And I want to thank you for being offended. I love you for being hurt so deeply about someone speaking ill about the folks with the magic of melanin, about standing by the negation of the standards of beauty. I like that you are finally on the process of learning how to be an ally. But how is your silence towards me a remedy? The silence from you is like a noose or a spear. Like something familiar. Like white tears. Like when you hurt about something that isn't about you, but I have to watch you digest hate towards anti- blackness in a way that alienates me. Like when Trump won, and I had to go to work and listen to Caucasians moan and bitch, like people of color haven't been going through it from the jump. When I was hurting over the same shit, and it was directly about me, I talked it through with you--I let you in.
I valued what your opinion even when it was leading me in the wrong direction. It took me a year to realize it was ok to disregard what you had to say about my experience because your passing privilege translates to you not getting it fully sometimes. The same way my sister, who can pass too, doesn't get reverse racism is not real. That they're making it hard to not let us in because of the skin, because of the institutionalized racism, because curly hair "isn't professional." I am angry you did not listen, that you didn't trust my accounts, that you had to see colorism and racism on our lands to understand it's not this thing that resolves itself out of the wishful thinking.
I guess this is where introverts collide--in silence, in extended processing skills.
Love you always, all-ways,