You’re getting ready for a night out downtown. Your girl decides to invite over a few of her white friends. They meet you, tell you how cool you are. Ask you if you’ve heard the new Travis Scott album. Talk about how “lit” your outfit is (you’re wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and an old pair of Nikes. But okay?) Ask you to teach them how to twerk. You make it clear to them very quickly that you’re not a good dancer. They must have not heard you though, because they won’t stop asking you how to do that move you just did (you’re just doing the two step. But okay?) And then there comes a time in the night where these white friends begin to test where they stand with you. They start to get a little too comfortable. The song comes on and before you can even prepare for it, she- blonde hair, blue eyes- sings along “nigga!” Thinking her voice might just blend in with the rest of yours. She takes a quick look around to be sure she’s in the clear. And because there is rum in your body and a blunt in your hand you decide to not sweat it. At least not this time. A few minutes later the same girl approaches you and starts dancing. You’re not feeling it. Not feeling her. She’s already dampened your mood enough for tonight, and truthfully you’re just focusing on how to not let the anxiousness of worrying if she’ll say it again consume your entire body. She points to the scuffs on your old pair of nikes. Starts telling you about how old those shoes are, and how this Black guy that she fucked always has the newest kicks. She just doesn’t understand why you don’t get newer shoes. And you just don’t understand how she thought they were so “lit” at the beginning of the night. “Girl, those are SO ratchet!” You blank. Strike two is more than enough for you. This isn’t baseball, we don’t wait until a third time around here. She has said enough. Has done enough. You are no longer liable for any ass whoopings that this Becky might catch in the name of racism. You grab her by her blonde hair and begin shaking her head back and forth. Your friends step in and join. You’re yelling. And hitting. And shaking. And slapping the racial slurs out of her mouth. “But I thought my shoes were ‘LIT’ BECKY? Not good enough for you now? Maybe that Black guy you’re fucking can get me some new shoes!” You take the shoes off and begin to hit her with them. Microaggression after microaggression has built up so high that your hands are thanking you for releasing them. They’ve held tight for so long but you can no longer be still. You are no longer liable for what happens to her. You don’t, not for one second, think that you might be taking it too far. She hasn’t even been up for air yet. But you’re tired. And you’re shaking. And your hands were begging you to release them.
But that’s only what you envision. That isn’t what really happens. In reality you look down, and smile without showing teeth. “Yeah, they kind of are huh?”
I bought a new pair of kicks this week. My excitement to show her distracted me from all the reasons I dreaded being in her presence. That’s what we have most in common. This love for sneakers keeps us connected despite our differences.
She called me Saturday night after she made it home from some party. She asked me if calling a Black woman ratchet is kinda racist. Obviously. But I only say that in my head. She says the girl at the party kept giving her a funny look every time she did anything. That she looked unpleasant. Aggressive. Angry. Rude. I try to ease her into this. I know the realness of white fragility. I make an attempt to introduce the word microaggression to her. You too? You really think it’s possible for ME to be racist? How could that be the case when I’m with you? She doesn’t let me get a word in. Her voice gets louder. More defensive. I keep calm. She won’t stop telling me she doesn’t see colour, so I ask her why her friends - who have never met me- only refer to me as that black guy. She hangs up.
Part of me really does care for her. But most of me wishes someone would take her blonde hair, and her entitlement, and her fetishistic, microaggressive ways, and suffocate her with them.
You ask yourself. They ask themselves. I ask myself:
Why am I with her, when our only common interest is new shoes?
You remember being in the seventh grade. You remember they cornered you into the fence during recess and made you take your shoes off. You remember they were new. The shoes were. And they were the only ones that your dad could afford. They told you we’re going to play a game. The game was owner and dog. You were the dog. Always the dog. You remember the way they looked at you when they told you the dog can’t wear shoes.You remember your stomach wouldn’t stop turning. You remember the way it feels when anger overwhelms your whole body. You remember holding in your tears and trading them in for a complaisant smile.
You remember that your kicks were new.
But you remember that this game wasn’t.