Sunday, June 9, 2013

the letters you never send: anne

Most importantly: I'm sorry.

I hate that our friendship ended over some careless texts. My therapist says she wishes "young people" wouldn't have actually important conversations over text message. I feel like I am young enough to make this mistake and old enough to have known better.

You asked me if your antiracism rant scared me.

It didn't scare me.

I didn't realize you were the only person of color at the party I brought you to. It made me angry that you were alone in this realization; it is fucked up beyond belief that I didn't even notice until you pointed it out. That scared me. It made me angry. It made me think.

I didn't know what to say when you started to talk to me about racism and how it shows up in all these subtle and not so subtle ways in society. White people were milling around me in afro wigs and dancing to appropriated music and it took your perplexed look and my "what are you thinking?" to see what was right in front of me.

I wasn't scared. You didn't scare me. I was, however, scared of saying the wrong thing. It is okay that I was scared of saying the wrong thing? Can you allow me to be a little bit flawed and a lot human?

I was disappointed that when you opened up to me and shared your thoughts (what you called via text a "rant," and what I would have never called a rant), that I didn't know what to say.

I have so much more to learn and in the moment I didn't have anything of value to say to you and so I froze up and mumbled half-thoughts when you over and over again asked "what do you think?" It made me feel disgusted with myself. I thought about it when we left the party, I thought about it after I dropped you off at your home, I thought about it when I first woke up, and I was still thinking about it when you texted me about it in the morning.

Clearly, none of this came through in my hurried text response to "Did my antiracism rant scare you?"

I am sad that two people who care so much about communication and intentionality around communication stopped talking over some poorly worded, not very thoughtful texts. I wish I had just called you and explained the multitude of things I was thinking, including fear over not saying the right thing. I wish I had felt free enough to show you my flawed, human heart as you had showed me yours time & again.

I wish I had been the woman you wanted me to be instead of the white person you expected me to be.

I have more to learn. I thought we had more to learn from each other.

I know it's not your job to teach me. It's not your job to teach me how to be a considerate, justice-oriented, conscientious white person. It's my responsibility to become that person.

I'm sorry for disappointing you. I'm sorry for hurting you. I'm sorry for thinking the multitude of things I feel about you and the depth to which I care about you could forgive some thoughtless text messages. I am sorry for trying to have an important conversation with someone I deeply care about over text message.

This letter has been stuck in my throat for months. Goodbye, Anne.

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