I am afraid of offending you.

Ellyn Ebersole,
Martinsburg, WV.

With the age of social media where it is silently stated that you have to “pick a side” in race relations I have found myself questioning why in an age of rising racial tension, do I have a hard time identifying where I stand?

I love other races. In fact, I find them fascinating. As a Caucasian mid-twenties female, I find nothing more enjoyable than learning about other cultures and appreciating them. In today’s time, it seems to be a never-ending black versus white epidemic.

I have bonded with both black men and women and have found them to be some of the most withstanding people on the planet. I love African American spunk. I love their music. I love the way they outdance white people on almost every level. I love their genius when it comes to having quick witted minds. I love their drive, their ability to still smile in awkward situations that most of us never face and most of all, I appreciate the strength of black women. I wish I had the passion, heart and love they possess.

But when it comes to talking about political issues or race relations, I feel silenced.

I feel that in normal friendships I have, I can talk about world issues and even disagree vehemently, but still be loved and regarded.

As friends, I can even disagree about life choices, attitudes and behaviors, and still keep my relationships intact.
I can criticize white people 24 hours a day. Politics, government, jails, and our community is overloaded with crooked white people that I can talk ill about, and I do.

But if I pick apart issues I have with victimization of all black men in the media who have been killed by a police officer? I am labeled a racist.
If I want to hip hop dance, I am called a person who is “appropriating black culture”.
If I want to sing a rap song, black women are okay with me singing parts of the song where we as WOMEN are objectified and sexualized as meat, yet gasp and shake their heads when I repeat the “n” word in the song.
If I want to braid my hair, then I’m accused of stealing black ideas.
Rather than viewing it as a white woman who LOVES the culture black people have introduced us to, I am now the enemy.
And once again, I am a racist.
I am trying to tell the black community that not only do I love, and appreciate you, but you give me a sense of adventure. I don’t want to steal your ideas, I want to emulate some of them. Because they are amazing.

I am afraid of offending you.
I am afraid that I will be told that I can not be against some black actions, and still love you.
I feel that I cannot disagree with people based on their actions, because if they are black, I am accused of being against their SKIN color, rather than who they are.
I am afraid that if I make a joke about black people after hearing black people joke about black AND white people all day, now I’m being “prejudiced.”
I am afraid that if I have too many white friends, that you won’t want to be friends with me.
I am afraid that maybe I am just “a little too white girl for you.”
I am ashamed to be white when black is the majority because it is a double edged sword.
If I emulate you, “that white girl just wants to be black”.
If I don’t, “that white girl doesn’t know ANYTHING about black struggles or what we have been through.”
How can I be friends with you, if I cannot disagree?

In the end, I don’t know what it’s like to be black. And you don’t know what it’s like to be white. Women have been oppressed even before black people were. And I know how it feels to be a woman. Most of all, I know what it’s like to be a HUMAN with feelings, desires and a heart.
We both have ways we can try to up each other on our histories.

But I don’t want to be friends with you because you’re black. I want to be friends with you because you are you.

But, I am afraid of offending you.

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