Dear White Friends,
I have known you for so long and I am so glad to be able to call you my friend. But today I need to ask you to do me a favor: Please start being honest with yourself, your family, and your friends, about the systemic racism that I and all other black people face every day.
Now before you eagerly agree because you are good-natured, kind, and value our friendship, here is what that looks like for me: You have to call people on their ignorance of what racial injustice looks like, and to help you with that, I will share what it looks like to me. Feel free to use as your examples.
When Colin Kaepernick took a knee in protest of police brutality against the African American community, many white people took exception: “He is disrespecting our flag and our country.”
But a white cop took a knee on a black man’s neck and killed him, and now some white people want to take exception with that: “Not all cops are like that. Not all cops are bad.”
» READ MORE: Here’s live coverage of what’s happening June 3
Let me get real here for a minute: Yes, there are always exceptions to every rule, but for black people, these are our exceptions:
We teach our young black men that if they are pulled over by the police, do what they say, and follow the rules, everything will be OK. Except Philando Castile did exactly what they asked him to do, and he was killed.
We teach our young black men to eat right, exercise, enjoy the great outdoors. Except Ahmaud Aubrey did just that, and he was killed.
We teach our young black children it’s OK to use their imagination and play pretend games. Except Tamir Rice was playing in the park with a toy gun, and he was killed.
We teach our young black men not to be alone with an unfamiliar white woman. Except a white woman walked into Botham Jean’s home, they were alone, and he was killed.
We teach our young black men that if their car breaks down, law enforcement will help them. Except that happened to Terence Crutcher, and he was killed.
We teach our young black men that sometimes it is better to take public transportation to avoid encounters with the police when driving. Except Oscar Grant did that, and he was killed.
We teach our young black children that it is OK to be regular teenagers and walk through a nice neighborhood with a bag of candy in their hand. Except Trayvon Martin did just that, and he was killed.
So again, to be clear, my request of you, as my white friend, is for you to acknowledge the current state of existence for black people in this country, without exception. Recognize and denounce systems of injustice in this country that are used to continue the marginalization, intimidation, and degradation of black people, without exception.
I need you to have conversations with your friends, family, coworkers, and social media community about these injustices, without exception. I know this may be asking a lot, and if this is too much for you, I understand. But as a black woman, with a black husband, and three black sons, I will have to make the difficult decision to end our friendship, and I will do so, without exception.
Tracy Motley, a West Chester resident, wife, and mother of three sons, teaches math at Episcopal Academy. Before becoming a teacher, she worked as an engineer at a pharmaceutical company.