Lara and Giselle were sitting in the coffee shop in silence, staring at each other. Giselle couldn’t believe she had agreed to this conversation and it had gone south really fast. Like first question and the tension was tightening between them every passing second. Lara wanted to ask “questions” after seeing a post that Giselle had shared on social media in regards to being a black woman. Even with the heads up, Giselle knew there was no way to truly prepare yourself for any questions.
She knew this from years of experience.
The unwarranted caresses of her bouncy curls or even better – is it your real hair?
The constant reminder that she was pretty for a black girl.
The fact that she didn’t speak like other black people.
Giselle could see the stress on Lara’s face as she stammered and attempted to reword her original question.
“Why does everything have to be about race? Why can’t we all just get along?”
What she wasn’t going to do was apologize to Lara for her very blunt answer. Lara hadn’t realized that for the last 15 years that they had been friends, she didn’t experience half of the hardships and tribulations that Giselle faced on a daily basis. Giselle felt for Lara, but she asked the question and was going to get the real answer. “Stop. Just stop Lara. There is no coming back from the questions you clearly articulated, so I’m going to be honest with you,” Giselle sighed. Lara stared at her shell shocked and Giselle decided not to waste any of this precious time. She was use to people quickly trying to make light of situations like this and she wasn’t going to allow someone she considered her best friend to shy away from her truth. Giselle reached her hand out and started to pet Lara’s head. Lara flinched and asked, “why are you petting me?” Giselle smiled and retorted back, “I just wanted to touch your hair.” She saw the glint in Lara’s eyes of shame and leaped at the opportunity to explore further. With rapid fire, Giselle spouted out question after question to Lara.
Have you been followed through a store?
Does your Tinder match tell you that you’re cute for a white girl?
Do people tell you that you talk funny for a white girl?
Are you questioned about where you come from? Like really come from?
Do people question you when you put on sunscreen?
Are all white people related? Do you all look alike?
Giselle kept going until she heard the soft murmur come from Lara. “Excuse me,” Giselle asked. “I said stop it Giselle, I get it,” Lara whispered. At that moment Giselle looked at Lara and knew that there was strength in numbers. This was a good starting point.