Originally published on Afrosapiophile and cross-posted here with the author’s permission.
As an Afro-American man in this nation called the United States, it is a known fact that at the professional level, one must possess a dual-identity.
I don’t know too much about everyone else, but for me, in these trying times, maintaining such a thing is driving me to the brink.
Professional black man by day, abolitionist writer/speaker by night, there is a severe conflict within myself.
How am I supposed to soak up the notion, for example, that a guy that I had Christmas dinner with would plow through a set of protesters with his Mustang?
This is how racism works: You can have friends, people who hold you dear even, who have outright racist ideologies towards your skin tone. Girlfriends, boyfriends, and spouses – people who love you dearly – can still hate those who share your skin tone.
And from there, the burden is all on you, the minority.
The burden is on you to never bring up the fears, the terrors you suffer. The burden is on you to remain silent in regards to the socio-psychological trauma that you and others suffer because of racism.
You are to suffer in silence, while those who you think care for you really don’t care about you all.
This is where things begin to get interesting for me. I am a black man in the US, who is making the bold attempt to have, finally, one identity. One conscience. And yes, people are truly shocked.
What I wish to do is actually just be me. If something bothers me, I say so. If something is wrong, I speak up, no matter what.
I simply began refusing to allow racist bullshit to fly. Or walk. I’m practically functioning as a NYC cop on racist bullshit: Racist bullshit gets stopped and frisked when I’m around.
Racist bullshit gets profiled and stopped for near-petty reasons, and gets beat up and maybe killed for its failure to comply.
In this fusion of my dual-identity, every day, I become closer to my true, one Self, closer to finding true inner peace. Fighting racism at whatever capacity is most certainly the real me, and it feels great to be one person.
But at the same time, I notice that I’m beginning to lose friends. And I’m totally okay with that.
The first friend I lost was a black man who I was friends with since I was fifteen years old. This was years back, in the height of the murder of Trayvon Martin.
The fellow was attempting to defend Zimmerman. He erroneously called Zimmerman a “security guard” to whom Trayvon should have submitted, which is false – he was a neighborhood watch volunteer.
This created a long back and forth argument (on Facebook, of all places) where the guy attempted to talk trash as if things were to get physical. The guy then stated that I was never liked, even when we were kids. Yes, he went that far.
I haven’t heard from this Tanooki suit guy in five or so years. I’m totally okay with that.
One friend, a Southern white woman, once attempted the fine deflection science of insisting that Irish indentured servitude was juuust like American slavery imposed on black people.
I made a couple of points on how there were no “Irish fugitive slave laws.” There were no Irish being kidnapped from the border states and placed into slavery in the South. But black people sure were.
I also pointed out how an Irish indentured servant can testify in a court of law, while black slaves never could. There was no Irish Jim Crow – in fact, Irish-Americans participated in enforcing Jim Crow law upon black people.
I should add that she also was a confederate flag supporter. After tearing apart her argument like a Christmas goose, I removed her from my proximity and never talked to her again.
The persistent vitriol thrown at Korryn Gaines, a dead black woman – and the women who support her – forced me the distance myself from another old friend, a black man.
Another friend of mine was a white man who used to rap on beats I made back in the 2003-2004 time period. Technically, when I was “producing” out of a padded closet, he was my first “rapper.”
Anyway, in modern time, he’s a real estate fellow who parrots anti-Black Tomi Lahren nonsense on his Facebook wall. He supports cops murdering black people.
When I blatantly confronted him on it, he definitely showed up, but he pulled out every deflection and projection in the Gentlemen’s Guide to Being White regarding racism – which was, unfortunately, predictable.
Other friends of mine looked at his wall and was astonished as to how such a racist can be a long time friend of mine.
Of course, he called me the “hateful” one and disengaged. I pointed out that if I was hateful, I would flat-out delete his ass – plus that it comes from a position of love to call his ass out in the first place. But, of course, facts don’t matter.
What I learned was that white people like himself want to be racist without being seen or known as a racist bigot.
He wants to shit on protests, movements, people fighting for their humanity without anyone calling him out – all while enjoying the luxury of calling me his “black friend.”
You can’t make this up.
I can only imagine how many times he might have been challenged, in all of his bigotry, having me in mind for his “I have a black friend” response. It doesn’t need to be said that I refuse to be an Ebony Shield to white supremacy.
Another thing I noticed was how he sought to diminish everything stated as “just a mere difference of opinion.” Again, he is predictable; it’s impossible to realize your sins if you don’t hold them as actual occurrences of sinning.
It’s easy to be a bigot when you don’t see where you are wrong, thinking everything can go either way. This rationalization process is what allows racism to continue as is.
Anyway, this guy is lost as a friend by way of me being grounded on reality.
Another friend of mine – a guy I had admired, actually – is a Trump supporter, and Clinton hater. I guess he’s a black conservative, or at least became one.
As a Trump supporter he asked me, “What racism?” when it came to Donald Trump.
This man is a black-Latino man, therefore, he should feel the heat on both fronts. Asking me to list all the racist things Trump said and done. (There’s a nice long list here, if you need a resource to share with a Trump-supporting, potentially soon-to-be-ex-friend of your own.)
As if he never seen or heard it. The denial in this man was as thick as a Thanksgiving fart. I haven’t spoken to him since.
This Is About Self Care
As socially cognizant black people in the US, it is a known fact that we are often torn between people that we have love for. I imagine that the majority of successful black people live a reality where they constantly have to put up with close-quarters racism, ranging from microaggressions to blatant bigotry.
In my quest to distance myself from this dual-identity and become one, I can picture how one would suggest that my actions are petty or arrogant.
After profound thought in the subject, I realized that this isn’t an issue of arrogance or maliciousness; it’s an issue of self-care.
I have to address racism from those who are close to me because it’s that close proximity that makes things more damaging.
For those who are my friends, I don’t want to destroy them or start trouble – I just want them to be better people. I want my friends to give a damn about me as much as I give a damn about them.
Ultimately, I want them to give a damn for others as well. You know, have basic human empathy for people of color other than me.
For those who continue to bullshit in regards to racism, think everything is merely “a matter of different opinion,” or wonder why I don’t “just leave the US…”
I’m totally okay with losing these “friends” of mine. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
So to those who continue to be bigots in my wake, just know that it’s only a matter of time before you lose.
Johnny Silvercloud is the consequentialist street photographer abolitionist writer/speaker with a fierce sense of justice, and well, common sense. He founded Afrosapiophile to make a place for logical black folks who have similar passions. Forgive him in advance for his unrelenting critical thinking and his lack of patience for the willfully ignorant. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnySilverclo.