The Color of Friendship
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.