Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How are you taking care of your friends?

White people, how are you taking care of your friends of color? Straight people, how are you taking care of your queer friends? Men, how are you taking care of your women friends? How are we taking care of our trans friends, our Black friends, our Indigenous friends, our immigrant friends, our Muslim friends, our friends with disabilities? How are we taking care of our friends who are hurting the most right now?

Yesterday, someone told me that, after 10 years, they didn't want to be friends anymore because they hadn't heard from me much the last few months, and that when they did, my responses were "lukewarm." I was going to vaguebook about it because their last message to me was mostly insults, that I didn't have any friends left (uh hi I have some of the greatest friends in the world, everyone else could only be so lucky), but then I realized I was forcing myself to pretend I wasn't hurt by this interaction when I was. I wasn't hurt by their insults because I didn't believe them, and in unpacking what it was that did hurt me, I decided to share this story.

I told this person that the last few months have been hard for me because of personal things that have happened (as in, in my life and the lives of a few other people), and the things happening in the country and the world, the things that particularly impact me as a queer woman of color, and the things that impact so many people I know and I care about and even more people I don't know and I care about.

This person responded that they wanted me to know they didn't hold me to any expectations as a friend - but wait - hadn't they just held me to expectations? Hadn't they just said I failed to meet their expectations in regards to frequency and enthusiasm in my communication, and held me to these expectations by deciding to disconnect from our friendship?

It's relevant to share with you that this person is a white, cis, straight woman from an affluent background and an affluent community. I think this contributes to why, as I ended up telling this person, when I became distant and uncommunicative, her response was to center herself and be hurt by it rather than to be concerned about her friend of 10 years.

I don't think this person meant ill. I don't think they realized they were centering themselves instead of caring for their friend. Her feelings are valid and real, and these feelings were rooted in internal influences (her own needs, her own insecurities) whereas my feelings, the ones she was reacting to, were rooted in external influences and the horrific things happening to marginalized people right now, especially at an institutional level.

My personal reaction to these things has been a lot less communication and a lot less happiness in that communication. As I said to her, it's difficult to talk to people about your life when your life is very difficult - it's not fun for me and it's less fun for the people who have to listen to it. Interactions take more energy than they have before, and the stakes in these interactions are sometimes higher than they've been before. I've heard from some queer friends and friends of color that they are having similar reactions, and I've heard from some friends that they are having different reactions. The point is that while many marginalized people are not surprised by what's going on, things are very different for us, and so it only follows that we might be acting differently. If you are a friend for whom your world is not so different now or you are not so personally at risk or impacted, how are you reacting when you notice your friends acting differently? Is your reaction about how their sadness or anger or denial or whatever it is makes you feel? Or is your reaction about what they need and how you can take care of them?

How are you taking care of your friends?

Here are some bonus puppy friends taking care of each other; incidentally, my best friend sent me this picture.
A photo posted by Candice (@roofusandkilo) on


  1. Kid, you clearly need to step back and look at yourself. Everything on this site speaks of someone who wants to be a victim. Stop making excuses for why you are not successful and are not the person you want to be. Look around at all of the people of color, of unique gender identities who are demonstrating by daily actions who they are, and that they can stand up and take action instead of blaming the world for real and imagined slights.

    What do you want? Honestly think about what you want out of your tirades about race, and gender and marginalized groups. What do you hope for? Do you think attacking others is going to make that happen? Why not simply try to share love based on your daily actions. It's kinda like voting with your choices.

    The other thing you may not understand, though my guess is you do, even people who look and are on paper, privileged, can hurt. They can have unseen scars and problems. Anyone can be anxious, depressed, and have days that are torture to want to live through. Stop thinking that just because someone is from a stereotypical "entitled" background that that makes them so. Frankly, that is your small mindedness and ignorance and it is an instance of categorizing people that you would find unfair if someone directed it at you.

    Another thing to think about. Didn't you attend American University? One of the most expensive schools in the country, in one of the most expensive cities in the country. Doesn't that speak of a degree of entitlement? However you got into that school, you are still privileged enough to have a degree and education from an esteemed institution. How you use that is on you. But I think most would agree that a degree from AU opens doors, and you have that gift.

    Think too though, about the people who are not able to check unique identifier boxes to help them get into elite schools or to get jobs. There is a privilege in that too at this point in time. Those white girls from suburbia had to work twice as hard to be even more distinguished to get into those same institutions.

    You clearly think you have insight on the world, maybe even that you have an enlightened viewpoint. But anyone who wants to lash back at people and cause pain in the world is not acting productively and not responding with love.

    1. I don't even know where to start with this comment, but let me point out a few things.

      1. Whit girls from suburbia have NOT had to work twice as hard to be even more distinguished than people of color in application to college. Affirmative actions benefits racial minorities AND women. So you aren't a racial minority, then that only leaves WHITE WOMEN.

      2. The fact that you wrote the whiny fucking comment points to a few things. First, that you are probably a white, privileged person who believes that marginalized groups are butting in line to steal away your american dream of supremacy. Second, that you are probably in some way involved with the person this post is about - who is absolutely childish to respond to a friend in the way they did. Maybe that's why this person had people write anonymous posts in the name of love.

      3. Writing a comment full of insults towards someone is not responding with love and is certainly not acting productively.

      The rest of the things I have to say are not that nice, so I'm gonna leave it there. But boy, do you look bad. Which is why you probably commented anonymously.

  2. I feel like if you had actually digested the information you were receiving, you would have been able to approach from a less vindictive angle and a more understanding one. You claim this friend is crying me, me, me but it doesn't look like you're contributing anything different. How are YOU taking care of your friends?

    1. Bettina is my friend and I can tell you how she takes care of me. She points out when I'm being transphobic or centering my experiences as a heterosexual and teaches me to be more compassionate. She helps me realize when I'm making demands of my community that are selfish and petty.

      This friend was crying "me, me, me" in that they took the most petty route possible to say that they weren't happy with their friend. Which means expectations weren't met. Which means, it WAS about how this "friend" was feeling instead of asking Bettina how she was doing or why she had been withdrawn from friendship.

      How are YOU contributing anything different than whining on behalf of a privileged child who doesn't like not getting their way?

  3. As a policy I won't engage with anonymous commenters (though appreciate anyone who wants to, thank you Stella), because I will not reward the cowardice and bullying of commenting without accountability, however, for the benefit of other readers, I want to point out how these comments replicate the same dynamics I've addressed in my post - when you read this post as a post about a single person, whom these commenters claim I am attacking or vindictive against, you miss this point. This is a post about millions of marginalized people, this is a post about taking care of others.