Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Color of Friendship

September 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Role Models, Self Esteem, Self-Acceptance, Self-Care

This post is from guest blogger, YumYucky

I was the black kid with bobo sneakers and Val was the popular Italian girl that everyone adored, but color and status meant nothing. We were 5th grade best friends. I didn’t mind that our friendship was limited to the confines of school. We lived miles apart so it wasn’t strange to me that I never got an invite to her home. I rationalized that it was just too inconvenient for the grown ups to cart us around.

Val and I goofed, laughed, shared secrets, and got busted for passing notes in class. It was all the normal stuff you do with a good friend and we were having a blast. I was excited to finally meet her mother during an in-school function. She was pretty, just like Val, nice as ever, and wore really classy clothes.

The next morning Val came to school in tears. To describe her as upset is an understatement, but she calmed herself and told me the trouble.

“I can’t be your friend anymore. I’m not allowed,” she said.

“But why? What’s wrong?” I asked.

“My mom said I can’t be your friend because you’re black”.

My jaw dropped. I was in shock and her words barely registered in my brain. I can’t remember how I responded, but the disconnect was immediate. Our friendship ceased that very day. No more fun. No more laughs. No more Val. There was no talking it out or further explanation offered. My race was obviously the deal breaker.

I wondered if Val’s mom knew I lived with my white grandmother. My dark skin gave no hint of a white affiliation, but if her mom knew I wasn’t as black as she thought, surely she’d change her mind and approve of me. But that didn’t happen.

Years later, now in high school, there was a knock at my door. It was Val selling something door to door in my neighborhood. I was shocked to see her on my front step, but we pretended not to know each other. I told her I wasn’t interested in what she was selling and I shut the door.

So here I am today, still saddened over the matter, but not because of the racial offense. Her friendship meant so much to me as a child and it came to an abrupt end. I recently found Val on Facebook and waited (rather impatiently) for her to accept my friend request. She did accept and I quickly offered a “hello” to get a conversation going, but it’s been awhile and Val still hasn’t talked back.

Back in 5th grade I was rejected and written off, but this happens to people everyday. Overweight people get rejected. Old people get rejected. So-called unattractive people get rejected, and so on and so on. I’m not mad at Val and I’m not mad at her mother. It’s simply time to let it go and continue to surround myself with loving people who accept me for me.

WATRD

Comments

No Responses to “The Color of Friendship”
  1. Marsha says:

    All the other huge reasons aside, seems like getting over a hurt like this is a lot about just that — the hurt. It’s admirable you are letting it go because that’s so hard. But definitely the best thing to do for yourself. I can only hope that one of these days, these kind of things — rejection because of the color of our skin, the size of our bodies, the look of our faces — will be things that everyone is appalled by. Speaking out, as everyone is on blogs like this one, goes far towards making that happen. Because folks who believe otherwise are very vocal. We need to make our voices just as loud.

  2. lissa10279 says:

    Josie, this story breaks my heart but the worst of it is that this kind of situation probably arises more than we know; some people are, unfortunately, racist. Good for you trying to reach out and, realizing it wasn’t going to happen, for moving on. It takes a big person to be the bigger person and while I’m sorry Val turned out to not be the friend you hoped/thought she’d be, the good news is, there are tons of people out there who love you for you, regardless of the color of your skin. And that is key.

  3. FatNSassy says:

    It was so obviously Val and her mother’s loss. You moved on, but her own ignorance has ultimately hurt her most of all for depriving her daughter and herself of your company. Here is hoping one day she will realize it.

  4. Yum Yucky says:

    It seems like finding her on Facebook dredged up all the old sadness I thought I’d dealt with. Until now, I’ve never told anyone this story outside of my husband and children, so I appreciate your kind words. It’s means a lot.

  5. ronisweigh says:

    This just makes me so friggin’ mad and upset! I just don’t get it and I never will.

    Thank you for sharing Josie. I have nothing to offer but a big {{HUG}}

  6. McLauren84 says:

    Thanks for sharing this story, Josie! Truly eye-opening. It’s sometimes easy to think racism has been somewhat eradicated in America, but stories like that make it clear to me what a racist society we still unfortunately live in. Agreed with FatNSassy–definitely their loss!

  7. MizFit says:

    ouch.
    this totally touched a nerve with me and struck home.
    replace black with JEWISH and there ya go.

    Friendships.
    Parties.
    dating.

    THANK YOU for writing this, Josie.

  8. Add me to the “ouch” list except replace “Black’ or “Jewish” with “POOR”.

    No one wanted their kid hanging out w/ the fat girl in the thrift store clothes. 🙁

    Jose, you’ve moved on to a better place by letting it go.

    -Blue

  9. Josie, it breaks my heart to read this, and it breaks my heart that you had to live this. {{HUGs}}

  10. clairemysko says:

    What a traumatic experience, Josie. It makes my blood boil to read about what you went through. And it’s certainly a powerful reminder of how hard we all must work to ensure that future generations don’t have to face such hateful discrimination.

  11. Monique says:

    Wow! What a story!! Children are Born so innocent. It is unfortunate that Val’s Mother removed your “Rose Colored Glasses” and exposed you to the “Ugliness” of the world at such a young age! Judging by the Josie that I Know AND LOVE, Your PARENTS showed you the “BEAUTIES” of the world and The BEAUTIFUL People in it! We as adults have the power to MAKE A CHANGE! I Pray that this Blog post serves as your “White Dove” that you have released into the Beautiful sky to be free….the pain is gone. Let the Healing Begin! {{{{Hugs}}}} ~~ FootDr69

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