Of course, in my day, we just called them "friends."
My first "boyfriend" was black (age 4, we ran that preschool). One of my best friends is black. My best friend at college is black.
For 21 years, I have interacted with "people." Some people I like a lot. Some people annoy me to death. I think some people are really attractive. I think some people are pretty dang homely. Some people make me uncomfortable. Some people make me feel at ease. For 21 years, the world has been made up of "people," each unique, each uniquely shaping my life.
But now, I see color.
I have never been a racist. I am not a racist now. But all the screaming, raging, and fighting about racism and political correctness has shifted me from racially colorblind to racially anxious.
Now, if I bump into a black person, I make sure to say excuse me AND that I'm so sorry, lest she think I have a white elitist attitude. Now, if the cashier at the store is black, I push myself to be overly friendly and smile a lot, lest he think I take him for granted because he's black. Now, if a black man is walking behind me at night, I make sure to go slowly and smile if he passes me, to make sure he knows I made no weird assumptions about being unsafe.
I used to have friends. Now I have "white friends AND BLACK FRIENDS, WHICH I DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN NONE AT ALL, BECAUSE THEY ARE TOTALLY THE SAME AND EQUAL, EXCEPT THAT THE BLACK FRIENDS ARE ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE THEY PROVE THAT I AM NOT A RACIST."
I'm sorry, but what the hell?
I agree that racism is a real issue, in that it should not ever be an issue. People are people. Black people are people, and white people are people, and everyone has the ability to be funny or attractive or arrogant or stupid and it has nothing to do with skin color.
I already understood this, and I think a lot of other people did too. However, all the recent shootings and media uproar and Confederate Flag ridiculousness and a HOST of other junk have made it really hard to be colorblind. Instead of encouraging equal treatment, I think all the fuss has actually encouraged and exacerbated racism. People like me, who have been non-racist almost to the point of obliviousness, now find themselves noticing skin color. Isn't that the very thing we're trying to avoid?
Slavery was horrific. I am tremendously glad that it is in the past. We must remember that it was terrible and wrong and never gloss over it in a history lesson--but can we also remember that it is history? I did not personally enslave anyone. Neither did my parents. Neither did my grandparents. I would not do it now if I had the chance. Neither would my parents. Neither would my grandparents. Slavery was and is WRONG.
Slavery was horrific--but it was not my FAULT. No white American alive today is personally responsible for institutionalized slavery. No black American today has been personally abused by institutionalized slavery.
Obviously, true racists do exist, and they should be ashamed of themselves. But I really don't think all the pettiness and anger and guilt-tripping is the way to make racists change--white racists or black racists. I truly believe that racism does not make sense and that the truth of equality will prevail.
We fight for equality so that everyone can be treated equally. But I think it's time to stop FIGHTING for equality--we've been doing that for fifty years--and time just to start treating people equally. Let's all assume that people are people, and shut up about the rest. Imagine raising your kids in a society where no one has to say "white people and black people are equal," because the kids have never known otherwise.
Morgan Freeman said it best last year when asked "How are we going to get rid of racism?"
"Stop talking about it."
Come on, guys. I want to be colorblind again.