The Pigmentation of Isolation

Girl friendships should be so sacred. It is so hard to admit you’re happy to be a girl, that you like pink, that you like Chipotle, that you might be a little basic. We’ve been conditioned to abandon what makes us pointedly women, if we dare demand attention for more than our looks. Drop your voice if you want to be heard, add inflection if you want to be seen. Cut your hair if you want to be heard, grow it out if you want to be seen. We were told we were tomboys or girly girls, those were our only categories. I grew up resenting the things that would make me easy to write off by men, and in my femme awakening of the 2010’s found myself ready to unpack this with fellow women. Almost as if I had forgotten my history, as if I’d forgotten overwhelmingly when white women say “WE want equality”, they don’t mean for me. Intersectionality hasn’t been a wave in feminism to this day.

Somewhere in our attempts to honor the Dream where little black boys and little black girls are able to join hands with little white boys and little white girls went amiss the opportunity to join hearts and make connections. All the schools and water fountains desegregated for your problematic favorite white friend to explain to you how to avoid being killed by the police. There has been no greater confusion in my life than befriending white women that claim to praise my skin yet devalue my struggle on the same platform. Too often I’m finding the same women who claim to support me support both systems and people who go against that notion.

Awareness of the world is crucial for survival when you’re marginalized, even if you’re white

Think of your best friend’s boyfriend calling her a nigger lover and her going back to him and explaining to you why he isn’t racist. Think of your new best friend being woke enough to know the Hard “R” is racist and thinking if she emulated the expression with the same perceived warmth of a homie, it would be fine. My favorite is when they tell me, “Well, I’m from Wherever! It’s only a problem in the south!” because only in the south do white women not really care about my plight but want so BADLY to embody it, right? No other region of this nation, much less this world, is so overwhelmed by audacity and privilege that despite their inability to be true allies, they deserve to say it because they meant well. Even when I give out the benefit of the doubt and pursue an opportunity to share perspective, I’m met with the kind write offs about my strength and brilliance. Lots of “you’re so right”s, zero change.

I have lost girlfriends for telling me my stories and feed is too serious, that I post too much about politics and current events; but I refused to change for that friendship. Awareness of the world is crucial for survival when you’re marginalized, even if you’re white. I have lost friends over speaking out against celebrities white women hold dearly, even when those celebrities exploit my culture and berate them into the ground. Miley Cyrus is the picture definition of cultural appropriation, she utilized black resources and then praised the content put out by Kendrick Lamar all the while blaming the culture for her behavior and substance abuse. There is no genre of music that doesn’t sexualize and objectify women. Hip hop was her golden ticket and then her scapegoat. I begged my friends to understand, yet I was met with “I know, but I just love her!” Often, my takeaway is I’m reeling for discourse. My plights are petty. At its worst, when I can’t get over it, it’s not worth the friendship.

They fervently, with the best intentions, share articles about injustice without an inkling of how it actually applies.

In contrast, there’s a sect of well meaning white women vying harder for segregation than conservatives ever could. Normally educated, freedom fighting women trying to explain to the masses why an Italian woman such as Ariana Grande is blackfishing, just by tanning. The most minuscule, Has-Never-Made-A-Single-Black-Woman-Mad thing brings them out with bullhorns. They fervently, with the best intentions, share articles about injustice without an inkling of how it actually applies. Instead of applying appropriation to actual culture vultures, they rather avoid going to see black artists on tour “to allow POC a chance to acquire tickets”. Very casually and confidently the term “hold space” is used as a reason to not show up and support businesses and artists who deserve it. If no ones told you before, know that your white privilege does not immediately grant you class privilege. You’re being white isn’t why you shouldn’t spend money at your local black owned business. That argument is reserved for wealthy over-spenders who change the price and demand for locals. Half the time we all live in the same rent range or less, but yes, tell me why it’s wrong for you to spend money on black businesses from Target on FaceTime.

Consume hip hop and The Dixie Chicks alike. Share culture among your friends and bond. That’s what Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream would be about now. You can recognize disparity and actively fight it while enjoying the rest of your life. No ones asking for white guilt about what your ancestors did. You can be a full time ally and never step foot into a protest or a march. No ones ever asking for anything more than r-e-s-p-e-c-t.

If there is a movie overdo for a revamp, it’s The Color of Friendship. Could you imagine a retelling of two unlikely friends overcoming prejudices and confirmation bias to be true allies and authentic friends in the 2010s? Keep the privilege of benefiting from an oppressive system, but make it “woke” and rad femme. We could just call it The Pigmentation of Isolation.

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