Relationships

Race Matters: “Can I End This Friendship?”

Christine Pride

Welcome to the very first Race Matters advice column…

I’ll be answering reader questions about vexing issues involving race and relationships. The goal is to help us unpack all the ways race can play out in our intimate spaces. As we launch this column, I want to stress that I do not speak as an expert on “being Black” or as an authority to speak for all Black people. All the views, opinions and experiences expressed herein are entirely personal and informed by my own individual perspectives as a Black woman and as someone who has thought deeply about race and interracial relationships be they professional, work or romantic. My hope is that by examining these issues — especially in this unique generational moment that I call our Great Racial Awakening — we can collectively shine a light on our individual biases and blind spots on our road to being better friends, neighbors, colleagues, allies and all around humans. So, please email me with questions or feedback at racematters@cupofjo.com. With that, let’s get to our first question!


Dear Race Matters,

I have a friend from childhood with whom I’ve kept in touch for 20 years, despite our many differences in lifestyle, upbringing and beliefs. For context, she’s a white woman who has always lived in our small homogenous hometown, and I am a non-Black POC who now lives in a diverse city.

Recently, while discussing the BLM protests, things got heated. It became clear that she doesn’t believe that systemic racism is real (WTF?!) and that all of her “research” was coming out of far-right think tanks. In our conversations, she didn’t acknowledge anything I was saying. Each point was rounded off with a cliché about God loving everyone equally, in what felt to me like a Get Out of Racism Free card. I eventually reached a breaking point, and told her that I didn’t want to continue our conversations. That was earlier in the summer and we haven’t spoken since.

But some activists say that we should stay engaged with everyone within our sphere of influence — that it’s our duty to have hard conversations with people who deny the lived experiences of Black people.

So, I’d like advice about whether I should carry on if it seems futile? I don’t foresee a change in her perspective, and I am very reluctant to continue a friendship with someone who I’ve realized is content with systems of white supremacy. Not only has it taken a massive toll on our friendship, but also on my mental and emotional well-being. Is it bad that I just want to move on with my life? I feel guilty.

tl/dr: Do you think it is a cop out to drop a racist friend?

Thanks for reading,
xx Rachel


Dear Rachel,

I got so many thoughtful letters for this first column, but I wanted to pick yours because your dilemma was representative of lots of other letters. Turns out many of us find ourselves in similar situations, wrestling with how to deal with friends or family members who just don’t “get it,” in one way or another.

So, you can rest assured you’re not alone in asking the question: Is it okay to drop a problematic/racist friend? The answer is: YES!

Well, that was easy. This advice column thing is a piece of cake!

If only. Nothing about this is easy. Here you are, with the very best intentions, trying to get your friend to understand something you accept as a clear and important truth: systemic racism exists! (Also, while we’re stating obvious facts, the world isn’t flat and climate change is very real.) But the bigger issue is that you’re trying to get your friend to sympathize with the plight of others and to grapple with her role in how society does or doesn’t change at a particularly high stakes moment. When she cites clichés and dubious evidence — instead of listening and learning — as a defense mechanism to protect her privilege (a tale as old as time), it infuriates you. Believe me, I get it. You’ve tried with facts, persuasion and an open heart and now you’re at an impasse.

I want to note your particular choice of words: “guilt” and “cop out.” They were revealing to me that you’re seeing your role in this friendship as a burden, at this point. As if it’s your job to be her social justice educator and you feel bad that you want to quit. Don’t. Friendship is supposed to bring support, mutual respect and love to our lives. Not to say there aren’t going to be conflicts but, on par, your friendships should be a positive addition to your life.

That said, I admire your efforts to try to educate your friend. After all, our friendships are also supposed to help us grow. And further, we know the vast majority of our perspectives are influenced by the people in our immediate social circles (and Facebook feeds, for better or worse). And now more than ever we feel called to the noble purpose of winning hearts and minds. That’s how change happens: on an individual level, relationship by relationship — I accept and believe something because the people I love accept and believe something and that reinforces that belief. Here’s the wonderful thing about this — it works. Take the recent radical changes in how Americans view the problem of racism, for example. In June of this year, more than 60% of Americans cited “racial and ethnic discrimination” as a “big problem” in the United States. Five years ago that number was just under 50% and four years before that, just 21%. The upward trend is a reflection of changing social norms. You may not have been successful at convincing your friend of the extent of racial discrimination but others have, as reflected by the statistics. And hopefully sweeping systemic change follows.

But I think it ultimately comes down to a question of degree. You and your friend can have a difference of opinion about the extent to which people are allowed to own guns or what the best Bravo Housewives franchise is. Fine. All matters of healthy debate. But then we have the other end of the spectrum — a friend who thinks gay people should burn in hell, or says the Nazis weren’t all bad. Clearly not even close to fine.

Despite your differences, do you believe in your friend’s goodness and positive intentions in your heart of hearts? That’s for you to decide. But it doesn’t look like you’re looking for confirmation that you should stay in this friendship, but rather what you’re saying is, I’ve tried and I’m ready to let this go. You want permission to do that. The thing is, you don’t actually need it and I have no authority, but I’m granting it anyway — POOF!

You don’t have an obligation to stay in this relationship until you change your friend’s mind and transform her into a fully woke, social justice warrior — especially at the expense of your own well-being and mental health. It’s too big a burden and too futile an endeavor, as you said so yourself.

And your energy is better spent elsewhere if your goal is social change: like Get Out the Vote! (Sidebar PSA: Everyone should be preparing their plan to vote now). Besides, maybe, just maybe, the loss of your friendship is something that would force your friend to reexamine her beliefs.

Sadly, you won’t be the last person to lose a friendship during these fraught times. As tragic as it is, it reflects a larger bittersweet reality — that we have no choice these days but to be as steadfast and relentless as ever to keep turning the tide toward the country and the equality we want to have. That might mean more of a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the viewpoints we let slide in our inner circles or it might mean sacrificing a relationship for the sake of staying true to our beliefs. It might mean accepting that we live in a time where lines are being drawn, and we give ourselves permission to cling to our righteousness, not out of smugness or superiority, but because holding the line is our best hope for the future we want.

Ultimately, in your case, Rachel, my advice is this: let go and hold on. Let go of this friendship and burden for now, you’ve done what you could. But hold on to the possibility, however small, that your friend may learn or evolve in her thinking and it makes sense to reconnect. After all, friendship, like social change and revolution, is a long game.


Christine Pride is a writer, book editor and content consultant. Her debut novel, We Are Not Like Them, written with Jo Piazza will be published in 2021. She lives in Harlem, New York. She also wrote the Cup of Jo post Five Things I Want to Tell My White Friends. Feel free to email her with your questions at racematters@cupofjo.com or connect with her on Instagram @cpride.

P.S. How to vote this fall, and raising race-conscious children.

(Photo by Christine Han for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Amy says...

    I have been a long time reader of CoJ (since the beginning!), and this is the first time I’ve ever left a post. Reading some of the comments has left me with this nagging feeling of discomfort, like the lingering nausea after a bout of food poisoning. While I appreciate the civility of the dialogue (and dialogues like this must continue for us to move forward), I was disappointed to read that so many commenters believe that systemic racism is a “relatively new theory”, that it’s not the same as “real” racism, or the suggestion that if people have love in their hearts for everyone, then racism cannot thrive.

    First of all, I think it’s important to understand that systemic racism is very real. It’s not just real in our hearts like a religion. It’s not something we choose to believe. It’s a fact of life for all BIPOC that is proven in statistical and historical data. I can appreciate that not everyone knows what racism looks like if you’ve never experienced it, just like I can appreciate that some people think Earth is flat. What I don’t sympathize with is the choice to keep denying the existence of racism when we all have the facts in front of us and the means of educating ourselves. It’s the difference between ignorance, and willful ignorance – one is potentially harmless, and the other is what is driving this system of perpetual inequality.

    The idea of “love conquers all” is also a trivial solution to a complicated problem. I have been through the same experience as Rachel and have had to end relationships with people for the exact same reason. All of those people have told me things along the lines of “I love and respect everyone equally”, or “God loves everyone equally”. Yet on every occasion that I’ve encountered racism (and I’m talking about full-on, in your face, unmistakable racism), they’ve stood by and watched. I can tell you that this silent, unspoken, unexpressed love in their hearts that they tried to convince me is real (as much as they convinced themselves), made these experiences all the more traumatic. The faces of those you love, who claim to love you, looking at you as if you’ve caused them discomfort because they had to witness a stranger attack you for no reason other than the colour of your skin, hurts countless times more than any racist slur thrown at me.

    What I’m trying to say is, if you truly have love for everyone equally, then please do not deny, or even support, this horrifically unjust system of institutionalized racism. Please don’t tell us that you love us, but turn a blind eye to racism. Please don’t turn a blind eye to a system that makes it hopelessly difficult for entire groups of people to access their basic rights like medical care, education, or housing.

    We are not responsible for the actions of our ancestors. We are not responsible if we happen to be born in a society that inherently benefits us. But we are 100% responsible for our own actions, and what we choose to do moving forward.

    • Sasha L says...

      This is such a truthful and helpful comment Amy. Thank you for sharing this. I hope many will take it to heart.

      Your sentence about those who claim to love you, standing by and watching as someone attacks you, and look back at you like it’s your fault and you are an inconvenience to them, ugh. White people absolutely NEED to read this. We absolutely have to do better. Being antiracist isn’t a matter of convenience. I’m so sorry for the pain this has caused you.

  2. Caitlin Marshall says...

    Oh this was wonderful! I’m bookmarking it to re-read. I can’t wait for the next one!

  3. I worked as a hospital chaplain over the summer, which put me in the position of ministering to people I didn’t always agree with. What I think is often missing from these conversations is 1. a recognition that it is not always healthier or even possible to “break up” with friends or family members who do and say racist and other bigoted things (some people living or working in conservative circles would struggle to retain community), 2. staying in relationship is not condoning harmful behaviors and ideologies – accountability is a touchstone of relationship, 3. if the bigotry is directed at a people group I don’t belong to, I am probably in the best position to stay in the relationship because I don’t suffer direct trauma as a result my friend’s statements, 4. it is ok to be firm, to take space, and to required good faith arguments. It can be incredibly fruitful to stay. I echo those who have suggested using “I” statements, too. If you decide to leave the relationship, it would be helpful to say why: “I feel hurt when you say this,” not “You’re a racist and I can’t fraternize with people like you.” We risk losing would-be allies if we throw anyone with a bad idea out of our circles; social isolation doesn’t breed positive transformation, it breeds resentment that leads to further entrenchment.

    This is important to me because I recognize that my thinking has been transformed (dramatically) because people recognized my unique person enough to stay with me through transitions of thought and behavior. They recognized that I had an internal logic to my choices and then helped me broaden, expand, and expose moral inconsistencies.

    • Cait says...

      I agree; such good thoughts!

  4. Alex says...

    Yes to this column and to this comments thread!

  5. Brenna says...

    Thank you Christine and Cup of Jo for the light hand on comment moderation on this post! Big respect. And Cup of Jo, please hold onto Christine!!

  6. rachel says...

    “let go and hold on” is some of the best advice i’ve seen in awhile in regards to this topic. thank you for that.

  7. h says...

    christine, i’m so excited to read more from you here. jo & team, thank you for starting this series.

  8. Anderson Stratfield says...

    This is an excellent conversation, and I’m happy to see so many comments! I am concerned a bit about the lack of context in the initial question, however. This woman says her friend doesn’t believe in “systemic racism” but doesn’t really give any examples about what she means by that other than hearing something about God loving everyone.

    Im my experience, this suburban white woman as at worst, ignorant, calling here racist is going way too far. The fact is, protests that have gotten out of control have MAJORLY soured the image of BLM and the anti-racism movement in general. Ironically, most of the problems have been caused by self-righteous white people in Portland, though black looting in Chicago deserves a mention.

    My only point here is that any conversation that takes place today about this issue MUST acknowledge that problems and blame exist across the spectrum and that race is only part of all of this. Race matters indeed, but it’s not the only thing.

    • Lou says...

      Yeah, Anderson Stratfield, there isn’t much context provided. Perhaps readers are expected to trust that women of color are able to recognize and name racism. But it seems like many people have trouble believing that. Why do you think that is? You don’t trust the writer’s conclusion even though she took part in the conversations, but have no qualms about correcting her and saying that “calling her racist is going way too far”, even though you weren’t privy to the conversations. Unless you are the friend who was being written about?

      In the end, I think the most important thing in this post is actually Christine’s answer, which is full of wisdom, grace, and nuance. But maybe it is harder for you to reflect on her answer than it is to doubt the truth of the question?

    • Hi Anderson! Thanks for you comment. I can’t possibly reply to everyone, though it’s really meaningful for me to see the vigorous discussions unfolding here here. But I wanted to clarify that Rachel didn’t call her friend “racist” in the letter. You and a few other readers mentioned that label so I just wanted to clarify. You and others have also mentioned “context”, which is also hard for reader’s letters, we aren’t ever going to have letters that parse out every nuance and every discussion (and impossible task for complex relationships and the finite limits of word count), so it’s necessary to accept some generalities, which, in this case, is that Rachel didn’t feel her friend was acknowledging how difficult it is for black people in this country (systemic racism) and that was something so important and fundamental to her (and I happen, as a black woman to agree!) that she was finding it increasingly difficult to just “agree to disagree” about something so vital. That’s my read of the letter (and it’s a matter or interpretation to some degree because, again, we don’t have full context, so we do the best we can) but she never overtly labeled her friend a “racist.”

  9. Leah says...

    Dear Rachel,

    There is a difference between believing that racism is real, is wrong and exists in our society and believing in “systemic racism.”

    Systemic racism is a theory, and a reasonably recent one. Clearly it resonates with you and your life experiences.

    I am unclear as to why you feel you need to change your friend’s mind in order to retain her as your friend. These types of decisions result in society being torn apart further, not brought together.

    Does she discriminate against people based on color or make racist statements? If so, by all means feel no need to continue your relationship. Exit immediately. There is no time in life for hate or intolerance.

    However if she treats people equally and with kindness, what is the issue if you have an ideological difference?

    It seems your friend is religious. Let’s say you are not, or you are of a different faith. Let’s say the discussion were about the existence of God/Allah/etc. Religious beliefs are theories, but ones that are deeply meaningful to those who believe them. Let’s say your friend felt deeply and passionately that this was a universal truth, and that you did not. If you and your friend align on moral values, specifically about treating others equally and with respect, would it be right for your friend to disassociate herself from you because you had a different view and she could not change your mind?

    I think it’s more important to align with the people in our lives around how people should treat others than on a specific political or religious ideology.

    Diversity is not simply a matter of color, gender, sexual orientation or religion. These are easily identifiable factors that contribute to diversity, but true diversity is diversity of thought and opinion (so long as everyone treats each other respectively and without harm).

    • Hi Leah! I know you comment was directed at Rachel, but I hope you don’t mind that I chime in! I think you’re getting at exactly I was trying to convey to Rachel myself– that it’s a matter of nuance what is acceptable. For example, as someone who doesn’t practice a religion, I can (and do) wholly and utterly respect people who do have a strong faith and believe firmly in God. Of course! To take it a step further then… I’m someone who is heterosexual, but believe passionately in LGBTQ rights. So I couldn’t abide a friend who condemns homosexuality. That is not an ideological difference we can “agree to disagree” about. That’s a stark example/comparison, but I just use it to try to highlight the point that there are absolutely things we can agree to disagree about and be challenged by and learn from, sure. But there are also beliefs and viewpoints that people (like Rachel, or me, or you) could find unacceptable. That line may be different for everyone, but in our polarized world we’re all trying to parse out where the line is and how to hold on to it; how to balance love, and patience and grace, with our fundamental morality and integrity. What’s great about this discussion is that everyone is drilling in and thinking deeply about what that means. I appreciate you reading and commenting and hope you’ll keep coming back!

    • Megan says...

      100% agree Leah, well said!

  10. Laura says...

    Hi,

    I’m a conservative and. Please hear me out. I believe that systemic racism exists – in a way. I think that a lot of blacks and minority races grow up in poverty and in environments that cause them, when they grow up, to not know how to get themselves out of it. So it’s a cycle that keeps them down. Totally agree that there’s a problem there. Where we disagree is on how to help and, most of you aren’t going to like what I have to say. I don’t know how to fix it. But I know for sure that having white people going around, blaming themselves for unknowingly being racist and apologizing for their white privilege isn’t going to fix anything. Beating yourself over the head isn’t going to make someone else feel better. Somehow empowering the black community to help themselves – that’s the ticket… but how? Not sure how to do that.

    Anyway. I think if it is very important to the person asking the question, then I agree that she should break up with her white friend. It kinda sounds like the white friend wants to break up too since she hasn’t reached out. I don’t think anyone should hold onto a friendship because someone else tells you to! But, if this friendship is important to you because you genuinely like other aspects of this person, then make up! Agree to disagree, agree to talk about things you have in common other than the race issue. This idea that people on the right are racist is tearing us apart. We have different ideas, sure, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care. As the white woman said, she believes that God loves everyone equally. What I think she means is that she is trying not to see race at all. She is trying to see you as a person first. Maybe that’s a bit narrow minded, I get that, but it is a different approach.

    I know I am totally walking into the lions den with this comment, so I will not be responding to any responses and I am using a pseudonym. My mental health is more important to me than defending myself against an onslaught of terrible negative comments. But I do hope that at least this shows that we are not all liberals and us non-liberals do care, we just have a different way of thinking about these things.

    • stella says...

      Hi Laura, I’m sad that you won’t be responding to comments but I hope you’ll at least read them! Anyways, I agree that white folks blaming themselves, and stopping there, isn’t going to do much for the Black community and communities of color. But I also think it’s a little ignorant to think we can “empower” the Black community to lift themselves out of poverty or the effects of racism. This is the bootstraps mentality that harmfully places the blame on Black people. Racism and poverty don’t have to exist, it’s not natural, it’s created (by people, institutions, & systems). So to assume Black folks can work themselves out of that is to misplace the blame. We don’t want to be perpetuating deficit thinking when we frame issues around racism and poverty, this hurts Black people and people of color. We need to be thinking critically: how are these inescapable “environments” or conditions you describe, created? You’d have to look at policy (redlining), the Great Migration, and the lasting effects of the Reconstruction Era. You’ll find that the culprit is white institutions, not Black communities. Thanks for reading!

    • Kim says...

      Well said.

    • C. says...

      I really very much appreciate hearing from conservatives, because it’s a piece of the dialogue that is missing for me. So thank you for being willing to write your ideas out. I am trying to listen carefully and understand the different perspectives.

  11. Kat Rosa says...

    Love this new column! Christine is a wonderful writer; I look forward to her book!

  12. Margaret says...

    Dear Rachel – An alternative bit of advice. You live a very different life from your friend, which contributes to very different points of view and yet both have you have nurtured this friendship for 20 years. That seems like relationship worth saving for both of you.

    Two thoughts: First, It sounds like you have been debating racism with your friend, rather than talking about your own experiences. In general “I feel” statements are much more useful than “I’m right because” statements. Perhaps re-calibrate how you talk with her about this important issue. Not a right or wrong approach, but an I am a WOC and this is how I feel when x happens approach.

    Second, diversity is a good thing. And that means that friends do not have to agree on every issue and every value. My former sister-in-law and brother-in-law are the nicest people. They were very kind and good to my daughter and to me while I singlehandedly raised my daughter, who is disabled, after bil’s brother bailed out. Bil stepped in as a father figure for my daughter. Sil stepped in to offer me practical support with my daughter’s care. I love them deeply, but we agree on nothing politically or religiously. Sil is an evangelical Christian who wears baby footprint pins on her clothing to show that she is pro-life. I am pro-choice. Bil is a Catholic and deeply conservative politically. And politically active. I am a progressive Democrat and progressive Christian, so we have no common ground politically, and fairly little religiously. But I believe in diversity. Most progressives think diversity includes people of color or other ethnicities or other faiths. But to my surprise one day I realized that it also includes people whose values who are totally different from mine. I realized that diversity includes my sil and bil. Yes we disagreed on every political and religious issue, but we agreed on our core values: love one another, be kind to one another, support one another. So I put aside our political and religious differences and just loved them, and they did the same for me, although my bil enjoys a heated political debate from time to time.

    So I would say tell your friend how you feel about racism – how it affects you, how it shapes your life, and how your debates with her make you feel. Give her a chance to hear you. Give her a chance to tell you how racism and your debates about it make her feel. Then put it aside and focus on loving and supporting one another, because you don’t have to see everything in the same way to do so.

    If you simply cannot engage with your friend one more time, then so be it.

    • Yvonne says...

      Margaret, what a wonderful reply!!!! We don’t need to throw people out of our heart because they don’t agree with us. Respect is the operative word. I can’t add anything more to your comment. You said it all!!

    • Jamie says...

      If someone has racist views than no, they don’t believe in “loving everybody.” Racism is not a “difference of opinion.” It takes an incredibly privileged person to decide that human rights are easily overlooked in favor of keeping the peace with those who would harm others.

  13. Anon says...

    Hello. I would like to add a (sort of) unrelated question. Would you consider doing a beauty uniform about Christine Pride? Every time I see her picture, it catches my breath! (And I am straight!). She just exemplifies what it means to be a graceful, beautiful woman who shines beauty from within. Thanks for considering the request!

    • Wow! You know how to make a girls day, Anon! I am going to re-read this comment about 20 more times. Thank you so much!

    • Sasha L says...

      Just seconding what anon said, I’d love to see more too! Week of outfits, beauty routine, house tour……. Just more please! You are delightful Christine.

  14. Kate the Great says...

    Ooooh, I love your voice, Christine. I look forward to reading this column. :D

  15. f says...

    Such wonderful advice, thank you for breaking this down for us Christine! I’ve had other friends reach out recently about how to have these difficult conversation when they feel like they are getting nowhere and only frustrated… mainly with family members. My MIL (Asian) had been mainly working in an all white, conservative, wealthy suburban hospital for 25-30 years where she had held her racist views. As she recently switched to a city hospital where she had actual Black and diverse colleagues, she was suddenly so ashamed of her previous views. I hope more people are able to travel and meet people outside of their bubbles… one day soon, post Covid.

    • Lauren says...

      Yes! When I had right-wing, pro-life, anti-welfare beliefs, having a lone liberal person express shock and outrage at my views didn’t change my mind one bit! Especially when they didn’t show any sign of trying to understand–never mind respect–my own views. It was going away to school and being surrounded day-in and day-out by diversity of all kinds that got me to reconsider a lot of things. (That’s why I don’t blame people as much who haven’t had the privilege to get an education or at least a change of scenery. )

      I wish more of Obama’s supporters remembered one of the very last lessons he gave to us: how to show respect to people you disagree with. And remember Michelle: “they go low, we go high”. During this election I’ve been so disappointed by how people talk to and about Trump supporters. Don’t people realize that insulting people just makes them double down? Can we not do better than this? I don’t think it’s that hard to understand where someone different from you is coming from.

    • Anonymouse says...

      I don’t wish to be a bummer but my experience has been the opposite — growing up in my country, schools and neighbourhoods in the suburbs were wonderfully diverse and kids from all walks of life, religions and ethnicities played together happily. My best friend was from the majority race (I am a minority POC) and we were always in and out of each other’s homes, eating from the same table, celebrating each other’s religious and cultural festivities together. But as we grew up, 2 things happened that inevitably drove us apart — one was the rise of hardliners in her religion, which espoused a rejection of the freewheeling “influences” of “heathens” like me, and the other was that institutionalised racism reared its ugly head in our lives, starting with our public secondary school (modeled after the British schooling system) “streaming” or selecting and funnelling high-scoring kids into the best classes (which would get the most resources and best teachers, etc). Competition was fierce, but I can still remember clear as day that the baseline criteria set for different races were utterly unfair — if you were from the majority race, you only had to have an overall average score of 88% and above to get into the top class, whereas the cutoff point for minorities was 94% and above. To add to this unfairness, I was later made aware that there’s a whole other network of top-class boarding schools with emphasis on science and mathematics that would then send them overseas to the best universities (think UK’s King’s College, Oxford or the USA’s MIT, Harvard, etc) to study while fully funded by the government, that only accepted the best and brightest kids — BUT only those from the majority race. It didn’t matter how bright I or anyone from my family/community/minority race might be, we were barred from receiving the same quality of education simply because of the colour of our skin. Same thing with public universities — a very limited number of seats is allocated to minorities in every field of study, but for the highly coveted fields like law, medicine, accountancy or engineering, that number dwindles down to double digits in a class of hundreds, sometimes thousands. As a minority, the pressure to be good enough to get into public university is immense, and it became common to hear of kids (usually minorities) cracking under the strain. There are private colleges and universities of course but as those cost 20 times what a public university education would, it’s out of reach for all but the most well-heeled, leaving to rest of us to fight for scraps.

      All this had the intended effect of sowing division among the races, because how can you truly be close friends with anyone from the majority race when they not only benefit from this staggeringly unfair system of institutionalised racism, but even defend their right to benefit from it to their last breath? They know and are familiar with people like me, who are clearly intended to be the losers in this system, and yet they don’t see anything wrong with the setup, much less that minorities deserve to be held as equals with them, not downtrodden by the system that holds them up. Meritocracy is a dirty word, and if anyone from the majority race voices support for it, it’s only in private because doing so publicly brands them as troublemakers breaking ranks and taking sides with The Other races. It makes me feel like they see me as sub-human, because that’s the only logical way they could justify this oppression. The betrayal of first my best friend, who since getting into the best class in school while scoring lower than I did (I of course got into only the 2nd best class) has never been open to my POV as a POC, and then my government, is profound. To be told and then shown over and over that you’re only a 2nd class citizen when you and 4 generations of your family have been born, lived, worked and died here is insulting, demoralizing, and patronizing. This is why the country suffers from an acute brain drain problem, because the irony is that even the highly educated members of the majority race (who were sent overseas to complete bachelors, masters and PhDs on public coffers) don’t want to come back to the country after taxpayer dollars were spent on giving them the skills and education that were denied to the minorities, skills that should be put to use improving the country’s infrastructure and economy. And on and on it goes, with no change in sight. This is of course not the US, but my point is that sometimes just knowing someone, or even many people from a different world than theirs, isn’t enough to make the racists and those who benefit from racism really see and understand those who are oppressed by racism.

    • Hayley B says...

      Lauren, I get where you’re coming from, I do. For any other Republican administration, civil debate and respect for differing views would absolutely be possible, because we would be debating the relative merits and drawbacks of policies, whether economic or healthcare-related, etc. Unfortunately with The Orange One — who shows open contempt for the rule of law, civil society, fact-based science, basic common decency, and constantly disrespects the honour and prestige of the highest office of the land — and eggs on his white supremacist followers to do the same, it is not possible to engage Trump supporters with any modicum of civility. Because with them it’s no longer about debating abstract concepts but rather how they can condone violence against Blacks and POC, agree with racist policies, disregard federal and antitrust laws, promote cronyism capitalism, fill the Internet with hateful racist rhetoric and call it “free speech” instead of sedition, create and disseminate fake news and misinformation on things like voter fraud and denying Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, spreading lies on dangerously inaccurate Covid cures which have no basis in fact, and so on. Basically because it’s impossible to engage irrational people in rational discourse. Just look at how the Presidential debate devolved into a shouting match, because Trump has zero consideration for his opponents and is only interested in grandiose self-aggrandizement based on delusional thinking. Worst still, this brings out the worse in people on both sides of the political divide, with the sum outcome being a country that’s becoming totally polarized and may never be able to meet in the middle again. To wit, there’s nothing liberals can do or say that will encourage Trump supporters to behave civilly.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      @Anonymouse I just had to comment because the dynamics in your country are quite similar to ours in Nigeria. Here, since most of us are black, we don’t call it racism but tribalism. And it’s so ugly.

  16. Anonymous says...

    That is such a tough choice to make. I live in a small town with very few POC. Right now with everything going on my family doesn’t see anything wrong and blame POC for each situation. I get really frustrated and there’s no getting through to them so at this moment it’s mentally tiring. It amazes me how 10 years ago when my aunt said some nasty, horrible things about me and my boyfriend in high school (he’s a POC) that my parents went to war against her defending me and him and they truly did love him and was glad we were dating. How people can go from that to how they are now just blows my mind but gives me a glimmer of hope that they can be reasoned with eventually.

  17. Hannah says...

    Wow I really love this new column and so appreciate this thoughtful advice on how to navigate new (to me! I understand racism is something that others have truly been facing for a long time) complexities in old friendships.

  18. Gisela says...

    What about if it’s your family? :( I feel so lost and so hurt. They don’t believe that racism is systemic. They also constantly try to make it seem like these hate groups are not all that bad. I don’t understand. I can’t even look at their faces without feeling hurt. And anytime I try to calmly talk to them they just keep going on about how they are not that bad or how “Oh but this person is black and they don’t feel this way.” I don’t know how to even talk to them. Facts don’t do it. :(

    • Peg says...

      Gisela – I am in a similar situation and have an older sister who is particularly bad. She gives all the conservative pat responses and goes as far as to say that slavery was “not that bad”. I have given up sending articles or trying to discuss anything with her. I wish I could say that love conquers all but it doesn’t. I want nothing to do with her. It hurts every single day to have family members who view the world this way. I feel for you.

    • Diana K. says...

      I have similar struggles with members of my family. Every time we get in a car together my dad loves goading me with conservative takes on current events. In the past, he has refused to rent to Black people (!!!), talked about being oppressed as a white man (!!!!!!), and simply didn’t believe racism existed (!!!!!). We’ve clashed about it all, getting in exhausting and heated conversations almost every time we saw each other. I always thought I was wasting my breath and my sanity getting worked up every time but RECENTLY with the horrible news of George Floyd I caught him being really compassionate towards black victims of police violence. In one conversation he acknowledged that racism exists. I taught him about Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Massacre and he was surprised and it killed his argument about bootstrapping. It’s obviously not enough, but it’s progress. And if I didn’t get into these conversations with him, he’d be having them with my conservative brother, which makes me shudder.

  19. WM says...

    Advice needed: I’m in this situation but…it’s my boss. I’ve also known my boss for more than half my life growing up as she was my teacher (who then hired me to join her private tutoring company). Some of my colleagues share her views, and it’s a small company. I’m not at leisure to leave the company right now (due to contracts and financial situation) but having recently learned from my boss that she thinks “George Floyd had it coming to him” and that “Black people are all criminals” and “slavery ended a long time ago – get over it”, I am feeling deeply unsettled about working here. We never talked about issues like this before because of our purely mentor-mentee relationship relating to work and before that, I was a kid. Also, because of the nature of our work (we’re subcontractors who work pretty independently of each other), we don’t get to talk regularly about things happening outside of work like we would in a typical office situation. The only reason I’d heard these views of hers was when she started ranting about her frustration with BLM during our one-on-one. I was caught off guard, and although I tried to reason with her, I wasn’t as eloquent as I could’ve been. I think what I said ended up coming out more like a splutter of shock. How do I navigate this? We’re both POC women too. For the moment, I’ve just been trying to minimize our non-work conversations and keep it purely professional, but I can’t stop thinking about what she said (or that one of colleagues also said “White privilege is just liberals being racist to Whites.”).

    • Ro says...

      I was in a similar situation once, but I was the manager and the other person was my direct report. One of the things that I found made the biggest difference was clearly and boldly stating my disagreements without anger but stopping to do so every. single. time. This ended up in me educating myself even more (I’m a non-black POC, this person was white) so that I could explicitly back up my statements when needed. Did it stop around me but keep going elsewhere? Probably, but it also felt important to make it clear to “the room” that casual racist commentary wasn’t welcome. And though I don’t know that it made the speaker think any differently, I know for a fact that it did so for others around us listening.

  20. Rachel F says...

    This is so well said and so thoughtful. Thank you to Christine for talking through this, for centering BIPOC voices and for starting this segment!

  21. Emily says...

    I appreciate this great new column. This answer was helpful and excited for future posts. Echoing gratitude for speaking up. Its disappointing seeing people be quiet due to fear of losing followers. Human lives and real change are way more important. Thank you!

  22. Laura says...

    Hello all… I’m wondering where we draw the line? It may be different for every situation. If someone disagrees with critical race theory or BLM (the organization) but you know that they go out of their way to help people of all colors – should we back away? Sometimes these are difficult conversations to have.

    • R. says...

      I think that this letter illustrates it perfectly. Situations and individuals may differ, but when you feel that you can no longer shoulder the burden on your own well-being, that’s probably a sign.

    • Diana K. says...

      It’s up to you to draw your own line. The test is whether or not your disagreement is emotionally draining. It’s possible to have healthy discourse with someone who is idealogically opposed to you, and it’s not morally wrong to keep them in your life, but the advice column makes the point that you don’t have to hang onto people who affect you negatively- for any reason.

  23. For those of you trying to talk to older relatives about BLM, my high school daughter, who is Asian American, and her friends put together an explainer website bringing together resources from all over the internet to help: http://translationsforblm.com/. The “Letters” tab has a sample email that you could send. There’s even a translations dropdown menu so that the entire site can be translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, Hindi, etc.

    • Emilie says...

      You must be so proud of your daughter. Knowing the future is in the hands of her generation is one of the few thoughts that eases my worry. Please know we are all proud, and grateful. Well done with her.

  24. Sarah says...

    My in-laws are most certainly racist. It’s unlikely they are willing or even able to change. So, my husband and I are attacking racism from a different angle. We put our daughter in the most diverse daycare we could find. She is one of two white kids in her class. We can’t always change the grown ups, but we can most certainly teach the children. Before she ever understands racism, I want her know other cultures and people with different skin colours are her friends and her community.

    • Johanna says...

      LOVE THIS!

      Your child will be able to witness that everyone is somebody’s daughter/son, mother/father, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, or cousin no matter what their race.

    • Vicky says...

      As a black woman I cried reading your comment. It really touched me. This is such a great way to do something that you have control of. If we can all reflect on how we can do Small positive thing to counteract the evil of racism it will add up for the long term.

  25. Cait says...

    I wish I could remember who said it, but this summer I heard Black leaders asking white people to please stay in relationship and have the hard conversations, educating people. It is less emotional labor for us, first of all. If as a white person I can have hard conversations with family (with whom since there is no personal trauma I will never break off relationship) that gives them a chance to grow, as it does with friends, who I might have the choice to leave behind, but it seems like the best thing to do to stay present, challenging their norm and being another voice. I know that won’t always be possible. But maybe it’s a responsibility white people should take on.
    It’s one of the biggest issues I had with a popular twitter thread by a white person, that went around recently. Zero grace but also, some of us have to stick it out to make change, and I think that burden should fall on white people.

    • Vicky says...

      As a black woman I cried reading your comment. It really touched me. This is such a great way to do something that you have control of. If we can all reflect on how we can do Small positive thing to counteract the evil of racism it will add up for the long term.

  26. Courtney Dal Porto says...

    THIS: It might mean accepting that we live in a time where lines are being drawn, and we give ourselves permission to cling to our righteousness, not out of smugness or superiority, but because holding the line is our best hope for the future we want.

  27. Megan says...

    I loved the tone of this advice column and as a white woman with many friends who are POC, I’ll definitely keep reading. My Black friends often deflect their own significant struggles with humor and jokes so I hope this sensitive perspective will help me be a better friend.

    It’s also interesting because, as a white person, I’ve pushed away white casually racist friends without a second thought. I struggle with my white family members to open their eyes to systemic injustice because blood is thicker than water and so the struggle feels worth it but I don’t have the energy to do so with non-family members. I didn’t feel guilty about abandoning these people; I felt good. Now this article has me thinking and I’m not sure if my guilt-free decisions to just avoid these individuals rather than continue to struggle with them is another example of white privilege…. but, also, as a white person, I absolutely did not want to be associated with those types. Food for thought, and thanks for that :)

  28. A says...

    Please don’t loose friends to the orange monster. I lost my friend this way the year he got elected and she passed away a year later from illness. Because of these walls we built around us, her last days and my rest of my life have agony in them that could have been avoided.

    Looks like the root cause of your friends denial is not understanding how systemic racism exists. Perhaps there was a time in your life when you didn’t see it / understand it either ? Maybe its a matter of time that she sees it too ? Maybe you are the one who helps her out in this regard ? Perhaps she won’t get this sort of influence from the other sources in her life ?

    Please don’t quit on your friends due to the orange monster. He will go. We will build a better world again. The work starts now.

    • Katrin says...

      But she wouldn‘t drop the friendship because of Trump, she would end it because of a lack of openness and empathy, and, ultimately, respect, of her friend. And no one is obliged to stay friends with someone in order to educate them, if said friend (or rather, „friend“) refuses to listen. End of story. It’s very simple.

    • SG says...

      Thanks for sharing this hard lesson with us, A. I’m deeply sorry for the loss of your friend.

    • Tiffani says...

      A friendship is supposed to.he mutually beneficial and supportive and this one isn’t. And friendship shouldn’t mean that you overlook or co-sign deep character flaws. Especially since this person is themselves a person of color. The topic at hand may be the Black Lives Matter movement, but if this person refuses to acknowledge that racism and white supremacy exist, she’s also turning away from problems that impact her non white friend and that’s unkind at best. The only reason this person is considering continuing the friendship is because she feels obligated to try to change the other person’s mind. That’s not her job and this person isn’t meeting her halfway and deserves to be dropped. And people really, really need to stop urging people who are non white to stay in relationships with white people who won’t commit to being anti racist. That’s such an unreasonable thing to ask.

    • dlo says...

      The world is full of people like Trump. The real problem is the people who put someone like him into office. If people like her “friend” hadn’t voted for him, he’d be scamming as a real estate developer instead of scamming the entire country. Unfortunately, his supporters will still be here when he’s gone. They are the problem.

    • Lauren says...

      I’m glad you commented. I’ve experienced a bit of that; it makes you want everyone to realize how precious relationships are!
      Katrin, Tiffani, DLO – I unfortunately think that it’s actually very possible for a person to support Trump without having those character flaws: if you believe (as I once did) that abortion is murder (and it shouldn’t be hard to understand how a person could believe that, if they’re religious), you believe that the state freely condones nearly 1000000 murders per year. If you believed that, you would very most likely be a single-issue voter too. You see the louder nuttier religious people in the news; there are a lot of people like I was, just quietly devastated at the evil in the world, etc. I don’t agree with the views I had then, but I don’t think your descriptions fit how I was as a friend to the people around me.

  29. Nicki says...

    From a long-time, daily reader – thank you Christine and CoJ team for creating a thoughtful space for these important conversations. Some comments are indeed disheartening, and please don’t hesitate to adjust your moderation of comments to whatever you deem most appropriate – but please keep sharing these kinds of posts,.

  30. Magdalena says...

    I wish people were more pre-occupied with how the person in front of them is doing than on debating them on the next hot political topic. As an immigrant and woman of color, with dark skin and curly hair -I still do not understand American’s fascination with racism. Yes, I have experienced racism myself and I am knowledgeable of the historical events that led us here. No, a twenty year friendship is more important than getting someone to agree with me on an issue that is personal and that everyone experiences differently. The friend could have easily agreed with her to appease her, but instead she decided to voice her opinion. Instead of hearing her out, the friend decides she needs to cut her off. By doing that, she is being biased and engaging in discrimination, and as a result is doing the very thing she is accusing the friend of doing. Please stop promoting division. We each need to do our part to create a better place for ALL, not just the people we agree with.

    • Genevieve says...

      To me it sounded like the letter writer did indeed make efforts during the conversation to hear her out, and that her friend was not actually doing any doing any listening or learning on their part.

      There are various levels of racism, some that are micro-aggressive and minimally harmful, and on other levels it is very very harmful and, as is evidence in police profiling, often fatal. It sounds like you have not really experienced racism to the level that is actually putting you at an disadvantage. I am also a non black POC woman, and as a first generation child of immigrant parents, I have definitely experienced some racism, but I would never compare my experience to what black people in America experience overall which is totally different. From what it sounds like, you are not black, and I don’t think it helpful to group your own experience of racism with general “racism” that is often a different experience for everyone.

      And as for calling racism a “hot” trendy “political topic”, I find it interesting that you suggest we care about the person in front of them instead. Caring about our neighbors and community who experience racism, and making strides to continually combat and defeat racism, are exactly we are talking about racism. It is something that happens daily in many places around the world, so to your point, people DO indeed care very very much individuals around them. By what you’re saying, which is that caring for others around them is totally different from debating racism, I think your thoughts tend to align with the letter writer’s friend, which is that racism doesn’t exist. Or perhaps you do think it “exists”, technically, but not to the point that it is actually harmful or that it really matters. I encourage you to educate yourself about racism and take steps to understand how other people who are not of your ethnicity, and people who don’t come from where you live, feel about and have experienced racism.

    • Maya says...

      This makes a lot of sense to me. I know others will disagree.

    • Hi Magdelena– Thanks for reading the column and commenting. I do think American racism, its nuances and complexities, can be hard to understand, especially from an “outsider’s” perspective, so I applaud your efforts to listen and learn and this is a great community to do that. I think you get to the heart of what I was trying to say in my response to Rachel’s letter: that there are some things people can reasonably disagree about, but there are some things that are painful or insensitive not to acknowledge. As a black woman who HAS experienced overt and systemic racism, it doesn’t feel like just a simple “difference of opinion” for someone to say it doesn’t exist– it feels invalidating and demoralizing. After all, if we can’t acknowledge the extent of a problem, how can we hope to address it. And it doesn’t feel like it’s sowing division to point that out. I agree that we all need to do our part to come together and part of that is having these tough conversations with the hope of fostering education and empathy. I hope by sharing my personal views and experiences as a black woman you can learn and understand, and vice versa. I hope you’ll keep reading and keep engaging with the community. Just this thoughtful exchange with one other reader (Genevieve), was, I thought, very powerful and representative of a kind and productive dialogue. Let’s keep it up.

    • Stephanie says...

      Magdalena – Thank you for saying this. I completely agree. Especially the part about how her friend chose to voice her opinion instead of appeasing her. That is true friendship – honesty and giving each other the benefit of the doubt. The letter writer said her friend didn’t listen to her but it also seems like she didn’t listen to her friend and instead dismissed her opinions as far-right and labeled her a racist. We never get to hear any of her friend’s actual arguments, except that “all people are equal in the eyes of God” – which is annoyingly cliche, sure, but far from racist. I fear that this kind of self-righteousness and inability to engage with anyone that doesn’t agree with your exact brand of wokeness is creating further division and contributing to the rise of Trumpism.

    • AG says...

      @MAGDALENA – I relate to this and absolutely agree. I have friends who disagree with my beliefs and are as passionate to their causes as I am. They are also the same friends who have shown kindness and generosity when I need it most.

      Friendships starts and stops and starts again – if you only stuck with people who think the same as you on all things, that circle will get smaller.

  31. Angie says...

    Yeeeeeeeesssss. Thanks CoJ for making this a regular column.

  32. Kim says...

    I would love to see comment moderation on here. I don’t think all opinions, voices, beliefs on human rights need to be heard. There are no grey areas, here. I have been extremely disappointed in many comments on the political posts lately. I don’t think COJ needs to pander to anyone.
    That said, I am glad COJ has raised their voice and gotten more political.

    • Genevieve says...

      Yes seriously. What is the point of comment moderation if you’re going to give a voice to racism?

      Also on a related note: CoJ you are a majorly successful blog that is read all over the world. Do you have a person of color on your staff? Other bloggers have publicly spoken about their company/blog strategically addressing racial justice by posting more topics on racial issues, inviting more people of color to write blog pieces, promoting black-owned businesses, and other steps. What is CoJ doing strategically to contribute to racial justice advancement? i would like to know because I’ve had issues with your blog since before BLM and the pandemic, and I’ve started to visit again as I see glimpses of improvement, but perhaps not enough. I have not seen Cup of Jo fully indicate how it is taking steps forward to be better at being more inclusive. If I have missed a previous blog post on this kind of announcement, please send me a link….otherwise I’d suggest your staff get with the program.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Genevieve, thank you so much for your note! I’m glad you’re holding the sites you’re reading accountable. We are very much committed to helping advance racial justice and supporting the BLM movement.

      Here are a few of many posts we’ve written on these topics:
      https://cupofjo.com/2020/05/on-becoming-anti-racist/
      https://cupofjo.com/2020/06/how-i-feel-as-a-black-woman/
      https://cupofjo.com/2020/06/14-great-black-owned-businesses/
      https://cupofjo.com/2020/06/a-letter-to-my-white-friends/
      https://cupofjo.com/2020/06/food-gifts-black-owned-companies/

      We were also honored to match $15,000 of readers’ donations to organizations supporting Black causes.
      https://cupofjo.com/2020/06/where-to-donate-black-lives-matter/

      We have four people on our staff, including the wonderful Kim Rhodes, who writes about many different topics, from style and culture to relationships and her experiences as a Black woman. We have a long-running wellness column by Erica Chidi (https://cupofjo.com/author/erica/) and this new ‘race matters’ column by Christine Pride (https://cupofjo.com/author/christinepride/). We have also been happy to commission illustrations from BIPOC, most recently Joelle Avelino.

      In our style series — beauty uniforms and weeks of outfits — we make sure to showcase diversity of all kinds, including race, career, location, marital status, family structure, sexual orientation, body size/shape, disability, etc. We have prioritized this for many years and are thrilled to keep doing so. Recently, we featured new mother Ayana Lage: https://cupofjo.com/2020/07/ayana-lage-style/ and writer Samantha Irby: https://cupofjo.com/2020/06/my-beauty-uniform-samantha-irby/

      The Cup of Jo Instagram is also very active in terms of discussing race, politics and other important issues, in both our grid posts and our stories. Please check it out here, if you’d like: https://www.instagram.com/cupofjo/

      Thank you so much, I’m excited to keep sharing content with you through the coming months and years!
      Joannaxo

    • Claire says...

      Hi Genevieve, as a long time reader I’ve seen countless posts in which Cup of Jo has openly discussed race, racism, and politics. I’d encourage you to dive into the archives and look! As Joanna mentioned, COJ has the fabulous Kim Rhodes on the team, as well as countless other contributions by or about people of color. While Joanna is a white woman and no blog will ever be perfect, I admire the work they’ve done over the years to make this an inclusive community for its readers. I think they do a far better job than most other corners of the internet I’ve come across! :) Claire

    • Sarah says...

      @GENEVIEVE – This blog has done exceptional work in regards to inviting POC into the conversation, giving them a platform on the blog, raising awareness, and supporting BLM. In fact, I have seen commenters on other blogs reference COJ as a blog that is doing the work. I’m not sure if you’re a new follower, but they have “gotten with the program”, as you say. Also, they have always had POC as contributing writers, way before this point in time.

    • katie says...

      I don’t think CupofJo should moderate the comments. It’s important to know what and who we’re fighting against. Arming yourself with knowledge is the most important thing you can do and you can’t do that if you only hear from people who think and act exactly like you.

      Genevieve, you could have easily looked up who Jo employs on this site. You chose not to and instead attack. I’m so glad Jo answered your question by exhaustively listing the ways this site is inclusive.

  33. Racism is not a difference of opinion. There is absolutely no excuse for it when everyone on this planet earth is a human being and deserves to live a peaceful life like everyone else. It is sad that as a black woman, I am saying my life and all lives of black people matter and there are white people who want to debate that. I am not talking about the organization, I am not talking about other groups, I am just stating that my life matters and for some reason, that is up for debate. My life is up for DEBATE. These comments are baffling. If you are racist, I rather you say that and be gone then to try and hide your racism with a bunch of jibber jabber about difference of opinion. If every non-poc sat down with a black person and just heard their stories on racism with no judgment and without interruption, you would learn that the world is not always kind to people who look like me. This year has been so tiresome because black people have to continuously explain ourselves to a group of people who don’t even value our lives. Saying, “ALL LIVES MATTER” is the biggest slap in the face to any black person. It is apparent that all lives matter, but black lives tend to NOT MATTER. Look at the statistics, open a book, ask questions, have conversations. Black people are exhausted with having these conversations because it feels like we are talking to a wall. Calling black people lazy, dramatic, or animals is a part of the problem. This country does not love us. It HATES us. We continuously get responses like, “Go back to Africa.” We were originally in Africa when we were brought to America as SLAVES. Not even considering the ones who died on the gruesome journey and were tossed overboard. My God! What will it take for people to understand our pain? The evidence is there, but no one wants to listen. The comments should not be moderated because everyone needs to see the not so hidden racism that happens. Some of these comments are a perfect example. It is easy for a non-poc to say there is no racism because this country and many others favor you just off the COLOR OF YOUR SKIN.

    • Alanna says...

      Desiree, I’m not Black but I feel your pain and frustration. I agree it is utterly abhorrent that white supremacists continue to justify denying the value of Black lives. It doesn’t help that they’re in fact condoned in doing so and encouraged to take up arms by POTUS, who continues to refuse to condemn white supremacy. See his “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by” comment during the train wreck of a presidential debate. I cannot recall any other time in this country’s history when it has actually been as acceptable, even desirable, to be so openly hateful, and I actually fear for Blacks and POCs safety. Just know you are not alone in your anger and frustration.

    • I hear you and I see you Desiree. Lordy, do I. It’s almost like not acknowledging racism is worse the the racism itself sometimes. Like, we’re not crazy, this is real and being dismissive of it is patronizing at best, and dangerous to our lives at worst. My goal for the column and for this community is for people to understand that. It may have to be explained again and again, which I know is also infuriating, but it’s something I’m committed to do. (Not that you or any other POC has to be– the work can feel taxing and uphill!). But I hope you’ll keep reading and stay engaged with us here. It’s critical to me that this is a space for as diverse a readership as possible. That’s not always easy to do with as fraught an issue as race, but it’s important to me. So come back and stay in touch?

    • Neela says...

      You’re so right, Desiree, and I’m so sorry. I don’t even live in the USA, but I follow this site religiously- being educated about the state of racism in your country has been a horrifying experience. I also grew up as a non-Black in a country at a time (80s) when I was made to feel out of place. I thought I suffered under the binds of racism. But feeling out of place is of absolutely no comparison to feeling that your life has no worth- that it doesn’t even matter. I just can’t imagine the feeling. Again, I’m just sorry. Sorry that you should have to experience what you do, sorry that you have to justify feeling the way you do, sorry that your words are discredited, and sorry that your president is the kind of leader who encourages the worst possible interaction between humans. I feel pain with and for you.

    • Neela says...

      *i grew up as a non-Black woman of colour*

  34. Kristie Dahlia Home says...

    Thrilled to see this addition to Cup of Jo; thank you.

  35. Emily says...

    Thank you, Christine, for this insightful and thoughtful piece. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn from you in future columns. Thank you, CoJ, for taking a political and anti-racist stand. I started reading CoJ for the helpful little lifestyle tips, then I became enamored by the incredible, heartfelt community (feels a little less lonely in SIP when you can read 1200 of CoJ readers post about their favorite books!) and now I’m even more passionate about this online mecca as it takes a clear stance for love and against fear and hatred.

  36. Listening says...

    Personally, I will stick with these discussions, whatever the difficulty and however uncomfortable. There are clearly some disconnects, and I understand why some may need to opt out, but it is helpful to me. I want to continue to learn. From my own personal experience: I am a white woman, from a modest background. There was subtle racism in the family I grew up in, but I believed myself above it. I did not think I was racist, and strove to treat everyone with respect and appreciation. I thought that was enough. In my ignorance and naivete I believed that racism was mostly a thing of the past. Then one experience opened my eyes to how clueless I was. When I was in my 20’s and working my way through college I was a waiter at an upscale, busy restaurant. One night I was clearing a table for one of my team, a lovely black woman from Brazil, who was busy with another customer. I picked up a comment card from the table and noticed it had a lot of writing on it. Before depositing it into the box where we kept the comment cards for review by management, I stopped to read it, expecting the usual glowing review of the food and service. Instead, what was written there was appalling- racist comments directed at my friend, vile and angry and threatening. Someone had been bold enough to put that shit in writing. I was stunned. I had never before been a first-hand witness to the violence and destruction of true racism. Horrified, I tore the card up and threw it in the trash but those words stuck with me. That was my wake up call, when my understanding shifted. I paid more attention after that, I realized racism in all it’s cruelty was very real. I recognized that I could not begin to fathom what is what like to be the focus of it. Because I was paying better attention, I began to notice more and more evidence of it. So for those of you who don’t understand why “all lives matter” is not the main point, I want to encourage you to think deeper, ask better questions, and be open to difficult answers, and be ok with changing. I came to understand that people of color live an entirely different reality – one I could barely begin to grasp, and often not at all a friendly reality. Consider the toll it must take on someone to go through their days, try to live their lives, and never know where or when cruelty, anger, and hate will be directed at them, to always have the threat of violence hovering somewhere nearby. It’s not a once in a while random thing, it can crop up anywhere, and it’s intentional and mean and destructive. And then just try to imagine how it has been this way for generations and generations of their family, and what it must be like to know your loved ones are out in the world and facing this kind of pain and demoralization. And then imagine how it might feel to have someone tell you it doesn’t matter that they live this way, that it is not a big deal. We simply must do better. Today I am blessed to part of a mixed race family, including a beautiful young niece and nephew, who have suffered the cruelty of racism in their lives. I continue to do my best to have conversations with my son about racism. There is much I do not understand still, but I am staying open. I want a seat at the table, I want to hear the conversations. I owe it to my family, friends, and neighbors, and to myself, to keep learning and finding ways to contribute.

  37. Rusty says...

    This topic is wisely measured, thlughtfully rounded and I’m grateful for it being here. As much as some comments make me feel like cheese on a hot plate, I think we need to read them, unless they’re pure hate.
    I learned a lot about whhhyyyyy people voted for Trump via another blog, which I couldn’t fathom until I read the comments from ‘the other side’…truly, as a Australian, I had no idea there was such discontent in the USA. Some yeah….but SOOOOO MUCH? Nope. Eye opener, though not one opinion or reason made sense to me.
    VOTE you guys! VOTE VOTE VOTE…because you can!

    • Sam says...

      Do you mind sharing the blog where you learned about why people voted for trump? Thanks!

  38. Angeline says...

    I second the commenters asking for a piece on how to deal with secretly racist relatives. In my case, it’s my MIL — ordinarily a wonderful, gracious, generous and kind woman, it’s like she morphs into an entirely different person when she makes fun of and denigrates Black Lives Matter protestors whenever they come on the news. She actually believes the damaging and dangerously insidious stereotypes of them being lazy, demanding criminals who need to be put in their place. It was so shocking I was actually rendered speechless the first time it happened. I push back on it every time she brings it up but I can see she doesn’t like being challenged when presented with cold hard facts as to the existence of systemic, institutionalised racism and how it discriminates against Blacks and POC. She’s the kind of person who wants others to affirm and bolster her view of herself as a righteous, upstanding Catholic, and when made aware that some of her views fall squarely within the “hateful racist” rubric, it’s like she shuts down in denial. As Asian-Americans, a lot of the older folk (she’s in her 80s now) believe in the “we take and expect no handouts” and “we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get things done on our own” mentality, but what she doesn’t see is that she got ahead in life because the system allowed her to as a beneficiary of the “model minority” stereotype, at the expense of others the system is weighted against. It’s so disheartening that she continues to spew such misinformed opinions no matter how many times I engage and try to enlighten her. It’s got to the point where I just change the subject rather than ruin the rare occasions we see each other, and then I feel that I’m somehow letting down Black and POC people everywhere. But at the same time, trying to chip away at her erroneous programming feels so Sisyphean that it wears me out. And the kicker? She actually likes Trump! So yeah, any advice would be welcome.

    • Jo Piazza says...

      Oh my gosh Angeline…I feel like Christine and I actually wrote your mother in law as a character in our new novel. We Are Not Like Them…literally…we named her Cookie :) I third that Christine should write about dealing with racist in laws! Texting her that now.

    • As a black woman, I applaud you in making an effort to show her that her views on black protesters are wrong, but even as a black woman I have learned that you cannot change everyone’s mind. Some people are harder to convince than others because it allows them to stay in the dark and to comfortably sit in their own prejudice. It is something that they know well and to change and open up, or even have those difficult conversations would mean growth and it would lead them to feel guilty for feeling the way they previously felt. Unless a circumstance happens that forces her to change her views, she most likely won’t. For your own sanity, I would not even welcome the conversation again because that would mean disrupting your peace.

    • Angeline says...

      Oh my goodness Jo and Christine — I’m not sure how I feel about my MIL’s qualities being so prevalent? common? mainstream? as to be so easily turned into a character in a novel, ha. Is it more worrisome that this makes her seem really basic, or is the bigger worry that there are so many ppl like her in the country?

      But also, is Cookie also Asian-American? And when is this book coming out?

    • C says...

      My parents are the same way Angleine. They are in their late 70’s-mid 80’s, white (Jewish) and came here from Germany after WW2. You can fill in the rest about war, persecution, constant fear of death and retaliation…you name it. On the one hand, they dislike war/persecution vehmently. On the other hand, they truly believe that, since they came here w/nothing, they made their lives happen, no-one else. In fact, I was always taught that I must make my life happen, that I should NEVER accept “handouts”, to not question the policies here (read, be grateful I am not in Nazi Germany) and that anyone who is not able to make their life happen only has themselves to blame. There is not alot of logic there as obviously, Hitler and the ruling party in Germany decided at that time and subsequenlty, generations of traumatized people, as to how their lives (and deaths) would look. I believe the mentality began when they arrived here. They do believe that this country is golden and based on their past experiences, I understand. They also seem unable to equate the persecution here w/what they lived through. I belive much of this comes from the past and present false news cycle that places Black and POC (and “Antifacists’) as the center of the “problem” instead of the obvious (to me) systemic racism and this countries inability to acknowledge and take steps to fix it.

      Religion also plays a huge role. Because of the way abortion is presented as black and white and not as needing to be addressed in social policies, education, etc, there remains a disconnect. I do not understand this. They and the rest of my family also believe that #45, although flawed, was chosen by their god to lead and that even though he is, fill in all the blanks, he is on the “right” side. And, that he can be redeemed!

      BLM is never understood (by them and many many others) as BLM Too, but always contextualized as an either, or, hierarchical position. It is endlessly frustrating to me how those who have suffered such horrors could be blind to the ones at hand (I also have family in Israel). I sometimes feel it is a form of self-protection, a way to forget the horrors they lived through by not acknowledging the present ones. Beyond anything I might personally feel, the continued trauma of Black people and POC is unacceptable. Not to mention the land, animals, ocean…the almost complete lack of accountability, respect, and awe is not only shocking to me, it’s deeply saddening.

      So Vote. It is one of many, many things we can all do. I allow myself grief, anger, you name it, but I always move forward with passion, hope and joy. I mean, look around! Regardless of all of this shit, just look.

    • Angeline says...

      Desiree, thank you so much for your reply. What you said — “Some people are harder to convince than others because it allows them to stay in the dark and to comfortably sit in their own prejudice” — describes my MIL exactly. To her mind racism against Black ppl doesn’t affect her and so she has no empathy for them. One would think that wouldn’t be the case being as she is also a POC, but you’re right, some ppl are doubly resistant to change because it would entail accepting and reconciling some hard truths about themselves, and they’re just not interested in doing the work so long as it doesn’t directly affect their lives. At the risk of sounding facetious, knowing all this about her still doesn’t make it any easier to accept — I often wonder how it is possible for a person who’s so lovely and welcoming to me (at least to my face!) to be so callous and unapologetically mean to others. Even though that aspect of her is not directed at me, the Jekyll/Hyde duality of it is still deeply unsettling.

      Anyway, I just wanted to say I see you, I hear you, and I wish for you and yours peace also. Sending you love and solidarity in these troubled times.

    • Lisa says...

      Agree on a post on racist in laws (or parents for that matter). In South African, my father grew up in Zimbabwe and my parents STILL call the country Rhodesia to this day. My mom’s view is that she was educated in an explicitly racist school system, she’s old, so she can’t change. I don’t agree. My way of coping with it is to avoid any discussions around race (because they just don’t listen) and then discuss it a lot with my older brother who has similar views to me.

    • Angeline says...

      C — You bring up really valid points, especially what you articulated about our elders’ inability to empathize with BLM and other social justice movements due to a form of self-protection. It’s like if they deny the persecutions/racism of the day exists, their children and children’s children couldn’t possibly be subjected to any discrimination based on the colour of their skin, like they were. For immigrants I believe there’s also a hidden layer of deep-seated trauma/insecurity that never goes away; that if they question anything about their adopted country and the American Dream, everything they’d worked their whole lives for could be taken away from them somehow. Like you said, they prefer to bury their heads in the sand and cling to the misconception that if they could do it “all by themselves” all those decades ago, so can Blacks/POCs/their kids generation, notwithstanding the fact that the world/country/economic realities of today are vastly different from in their day. I’m starting to think there’s nothing we can say to them that could ever really bring them around to our point of view. I wish there was a solution — I know how painful it can be for family members to have such diametrically opposing views from ours, particularly when their views don’t just differ but actually condone misogyny, police brutality, racism, lack of accountability, climate change denial, and violence against Blacks and POC.

    • CandiceZ says...

      This is SO Hard. I agree and totally relate. I was talking to my husband about this the other night.

    • W says...

      Angeline, I feel you described my MIL to a T except she is Protestant. Thankfully my husband (her favorite child IMO) does the heavy lifting when calling out her racism. She has not changed her mind and I accept the fact that she may not ever but that also means we will not stop speaking out about it and calling it out at family gatherings. Hang in there. <3

  39. Susannah says...

    Great column and great advice. I love what you said about friendship.

    Also, as a side note, absolutely beautiful photo! <3

    • Oh thank you! The photo was taken (and expertly photoshopped!) by the amazing Christine Han!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      (but not photoshopped-photoshopped, just brightened up! you’re gorgeous, Christine!:)

  40. katie says...

    This was a wonderfully written and helpful post. I look forward to hearing more from Christine!

  41. Vicki says...

    Christine your column is wonderful, with honest and beautiful writing, I loved it!!!

    And then as many have said I started to read the comments- and was disheartened. On the one hand this is the first time I e considered not adding my real name to a post. But this is a reflection of our reality, of the real messiness of a community. Perhaps there should be a trigger warning for BIPOC who feel like they want to stay with Christine. Just like Christine says they should be allowed to choose their mental health.

    For us white people, get in there and give support to Christine, and other BIPOC commenters. To be the voices that echo systemic racism is VERY REAL and hope to a part of the discourse that will change minds to make that 60% grow larger
    I don’t think this comment will change the world but I do think we can’t keep silent. So to comment back to
    those who comment all lives matter – as a white person I have never felt like society is telling me that my life doesn’t matter (as a woman theres a another story…) – and if hearing someone say that BLACK LIVES MATTER makes you feel attacked- what does that say about you? Why is that a threatening statement? Its time for a hard look at yourself
    As a Christian – we aren’t all on the right!!!! – I believe we are continually asked to be there for our brothers and sisters in this human family so when we see Black people being killed by the police, we are extremely late to being there for them, we have FAILED. But Falling down and getting up is part of Christianity so get back up and go do what you should have done.
    And for goodness sakes VOTE
    and if this year who to vote for is even a question, think incredibly hard about whether you can vote for someone who asks for clarification about the question when asked to denounce white supremacy

  42. Amy says...

    Thank you CoJ for creating space for these stories and issues! With so many competing distractions, our attention is our greatest currency, and I am happy that CoJ is making space for thoughtful discussions about race. Look forward to hearing more from Christine!

  43. M says...

    Looking forward to this series very much.

  44. June says...

    My friend and I grew apart philosophically after over two decades of friendship. Here’s a message I wish I had sent her before we simply stopped speaking:

    Hello Friend,

    You and I are traveling different currents these days and we haven’t seen eye to eye in a long time. But there were many good times and I am always thankful for the precious gift of friendship. I am forever grateful to you, even though our friendship seems to have arrived at its natural ending point.

    Just know you will always rank high in my heart. BE WELL, BE…

    Signed,
    Me

    (P.S. No matter what happens, please don’t just “ghost” as so many people do. If your friendship is truly over, think carefully about the last words you will ever share. Make them words of kindness, goodwill, and peace if you can. I believe this is how you let go but keep hope.

    • Michelle says...

      What a great closure to a friendship!

    • AG says...

      @JUNE you wished you had sent her? The message is well written – what’s the hold-up?

      No matter what happens, please don’t just “ghost” – DISAGREE.

      Ghosting sends a clear message “I don’t care enough to explain.” Some people are not worth sending your good vibes. With time, I find, people heal. Also, out of sight, out of mind!

    • June says...

      AG, it really is too late now but I do wish I had sent the message about 10 years or so ago. I thought I would share it here in case someone else could use it.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t perceive “ghosters” as being too busy to explain or somehow above the fray. From what I have seen, ghosting is usually indicative of a person lacking in conflict resolution skills who can’t navigate any sort of dispute. It’s a timid move in many ways.

      If I thought enough of someone to call them a friend, the least I can do is explain what I am doing and why. Maybe they deserve this common courtesy, maybe they don’t. In life, people have occasionally offered me better than I deserved and I try to pay it forward.

  45. Jennifer Wong says...

    Thank you for your words. So poignant snd helpful

  46. Chelsie R says...

    Thank you for this column! I look forward to more!

  47. AN says...

    I learned recently that 75%…three-quarters…THREE-QUARTERS of white Americans have zero Black friends. Zero joys, zero pains, zero fears, zero lived experiences, zero perspectives…it’s no wonder racism festers.

    • Roxana says...

      Can you cite this? I would love to know where you read this. It would explain a lot to me.

      I am so confused by some of these discussions on race and maybe this stat explains it. I have always had an (apparently) incredibly diverse group of people around me (growing-up and now as an adult). I think I have almost as many friends who don’t look like me (I’m white) as friends who do. When white people question the veracity of racism (personal or systemic; I realize that might be a clumsy distinction, but hopefully it makes sense) I’m always like “Have you talked to your friends??” I have so many friends of color who have recounted experiences of racism (on top of my own family having experienced blatant xenophobia) that I’m like “Who is denying that this exists??” I guess this kind of explains it : /

    • JG says...

      I believe this reality to be a huge part of the problem. I was having a discussion about race with my sister in law and it was revealed that she has no Black friends. Granted, she lives in a city that is minority Hispanic and has very few Black people, so I understand how it happened that way for her. But it explained so much about her way of thinking ; she had absolutely no insight into the Black experience.

      My husband and I realized that unlike our families, we were both college athletes. Being placed on teams with athletes from across the country afforded us a diverse friend group very different from theirs. (Major blessing!) And I think those opportunities to expand our worldview are exactly why we don’t see eye to eye with them on these topics.

      I long to ask many people in my life: How can you so easily dismiss an experience you know nothing about? There was a section in Ijeoma Iluo’s book “So You Want to Talk About Race” that really stuck with me. It was something along the lines of: “We run every fact we hear through our particular filter of the world — what we’ve seen and what we know to be true. And if that fact or perspective doesn’t mesh with our filter, we categorize it as untrue.”

      I feel like this lack of empathy and unwillingness to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is seen across many hard situations (ie: “Surely she’s being overly dramatic” about a woman who just suffered a miscarriage) and it’s SO DAMAGING every single time, but particularly when it is used to invalidate the hurt of racism.

  48. Abesha1 says...

    You know we want the info on that white shirt, right, Joanna?

    ?

    • The power of a white t-shirt! I actually got this shirt in Istanbul at a store that I can’t remember the name of, but is the Turkish equivalent of Mango or H&M. The story would be better if I got it a cute little handmade designer boutique off a hidden cobblestone road in the shadow of the Blue Mosque, but alas no, H&M equivalent.

  49. Monica says...

    What a lovely nuanced response. I appreciate that you pointed out that our friend wasn’t necessarily asking if she should let go of the relationship, but could she. It seemed as though she’d already determined that for herself, she should. Thank you for “giving her permission.” You’re right, that feels like a strange thing but don’t we all come to a place sometimes where we need someone in to give us a blessing to do something we already know we should do?

    As a Caucasian woman married to a biracial man, I can say that I continue to learn from him and from others. Not every person of color has wanted or needed to educate or convince me, but to the extent that they speak truth, they have planted seeds.

    Maybe this inquirer here doesn’t get to reap the harvest of seeing illumination in her friend, maybe she gets to bear witness and move on because that’s what she can do right now. In a way, that’s planting a seed that might be watered by someone else and down the road might grow into a fuller understanding of what she doesn’t understand right now. It doesn’t have to mean giving up on a person, it might mean releasing them into the care of whoever will come along next and trusting that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

    • danielle says...

      I love this comment because it reminds me that one person can make a difference. In the past, I always struggled with how to react when a family member or close family friend made a racist joke or said something that just didn’t sit right with me. It wasn’t because I was shocked, necessarily; it was more because I knew I wouldn’t be able to change their mind, and so to try to save the relationship, I would just walk away or ask them to not say things like that around me to avoid the confrontation and inevitable fall-out. I deemed it not worth the time and effort when I knew it wouldn’t make a difference in the end. Recently, however, I have begun to try to begin conversation and hear their point of view. Once I am able to listen and try to understand where they are coming from, I present them with facts, articles, and more information on such topics to challenge them to take a deeper look at why they feel the way that they do about race. Much of it lies in the area (I live in South Louisiana in the United States). The Deep South still has racist roots, as well as many “religious” people who are only pro-life until the baby is born, not caring what happens after that second. There has been a lot of poverty in this area for people of all races. White people here tend to believe that since their life has also been hard, that POC are just complaining and “aren’t working hard enough” or that they are”taking advantage of the system”. I have found in starting these difficult conversations, that a lot of the views people in this area have are rooted in ignorance and lack of education. Obviously this is not the case for everyone, but at least some of the more mildly racist people that I try to “educate” are at least listening and are willing to hear my comments and admit that there may be another opinion than the one passed down to them from their forefathers. If I can at least plant these small seeds, perhaps someone else will have the strength to have another, even more difficult conversation with this person down the line. Perhaps that future conversation will cause the seed to take roots to allow these people to bloom into a more kind and understanding population. Sadly, there will always be those who just refuse to “get it”. At the end of the day, I know that even though all seeds don’t produce, hopefully some of them will grow to make a small impact, and that is always worth any awkwardness or discomfort I had to endure. I agree with some of the other readers who have said that it is our responsibility as white people to have these hard conversations about racism and speak out to those who are willing to listen to us. It is the very least we can do with all the privilege we have been given. Our BIPOC brothers and sisters are tired. It is not their responsibility to shoulder yet another burden to educate the people around them or argue that they deserve a place and that their lives also matter.

      I have been a long-time reader of COJ, but not a very active commenter, but I had to say how proud I am that you are trying to use your privilege to build up BIPOC and amplify minority voices when there are plenty of others who are not doing so. It has been a breath of fresh air to see the not only the smart and thoughtful articles, recipes, and and outfit posts from diverse women that I enjoy, but to see you not be afraid to speak up against injustice. Thank you COJ and thanks to Christine for sharing her advice. I am very excited for the future of this column!

  50. pecanLoaf says...

    Try this simple exercise : Ask your parents and grandparents how many mangers or supervisors did they have that were BIPOC. Or, like how many people of color did they ever report to. Next, ask them what their thoughts are (brace yourself) about that representation.

    This will bring illumination + help define the current events.

  51. Allie says...

    I loved and appreciated this column. And then I made the mistake of reading the comments…

    Yes, we’re “all adults” but I agree with fellow commenters who suggested trigger warnings or moderation of some kind. I look forward to reading more of Christine’s posts in the future. Thanks so much.

  52. Aj says...

    Rachel – walk away! I’m also from a small (southern) town, now living in a big, diverse city. They (many white people living) feel there isn’t racism, and are convinced that BLM is represented only by the people who just riot, loot and steal, burn buildings down and shoot cops. Apparently, Dems are all part of Antifa! I often wonder how the people of color living there feel when they see a former classmate with these beliefs. They worship their lord and savior Jesus Trump. He is perfection in their eyes. There is no chance either of us can convince the other differently.
    My adopted daughter is Chinese. The last time she was there in March someone walked past us in a restaurant and laughed “the Chinese virus has arrived in Alabama”! I now keep her away from this place, and many relatives. History has proven with every visit why she shouldn’t be exposed to these people.

    • Court says...

      AJ- I’m so so sorry that someone said that to your child.

    • Eva says...

      This really breaks my heart. I am so sorry your family had (has!) to deal with this.

    • Irena says...

      I, too, live in a a major city with people from all over the world. It’s one of the reasons that I have stayed here for decades.

      Even here, where there are many folks (including white men and women and children) who are not simply accepting of our brothers and sisters of different religious, ethnic, gender, etc but who truly do not view them as “the other”, there is bias and bigotry.

      A very close friend is Asian American and the stories she has told me of prejudice she has experienced, like others who have written here, during the pandemic, are heartbreaking. I seriously do not get it.

      One comment: Because of where I lived (suburban PA) and went to school, until I went to college, I met few people of different backgrounds and ethnicity. But my parents had a wide mix of friends and my stepfather (an Italian American who had more than his share of racism) had a closer-than-this best friend who happened to be African American.

      It never, not as a teenager, or an adult, occurred to ask how this could be. They were friends and yea, they had different skin colors. It was, to me, and clearly to my stepfather, irrelevant. They remained friends till one passed away. So the thing is, it’ s always the talk. It’s how someone lives.

      Some folks act accepting but are not. Others may seem to talk bias, but live true acceptance.

      I respectfully disagree that if you dont’ have a tons of friends of different ethnicity and POC that you can’t understand the challenges they face. All you have to do is look around, pay attention to legitimate media.

      Unless you live in an ivory tower, you are seeing people who are treated badly every day on so many levels simply because of skin color.

      Either we are all one, though in different “earth suits” or we are not. To me, we are all one and I welcome learning more directly how I can help ensure a life of justice and fairness for EVERYONE.

  53. Lucy says...

    To those commenting that they believe that “all lives matter,” I would point out that black and indigenous people have had their rights repeatedly denied to them by the white majority for four hundred years. Land taken away, kept in bondage, raped and murdered, separated from spouses and children, sold like cattle, and denied employment, the right to vote, the ability to get a mortgage, and to love who they want to love. The list goes on. As soon as one right is gained, another is taken away. This is still happening today. All it means to say that “Black Lives Matter”–and similarly, to acknowledge the harm perpetrated on indigenous people–is to acknowledge that it has always been harder (and possibly dangerous) in this country for these communities to enjoy the freedoms and liberties that the white majority take for granted. Of course it doesn’t mean that white lives matter LESS. It means that laws and policies in the United States have always favored those in power and we should consciously seek to change that by focusing on the well-being of the most historically oppressed groups in our country. A little grace and thoughtful intention goes a long way.

    • Erin says...

      So well said. Thank you.

    • Irena says...

      Of course all lives matter, but this world does not provide justice in the same manner or degree for all humans. Anyone who thinks that justice for all is equal in this country is living in a fantasy / alternate world.

      When one group of people is singled out and treated badly, it is important that the rest of us stand up and fight for justice. Until white supremacists are punished, not allowed to act in violence, no one is really safe.

      I am ashamed to be white at times because of how some other white people act, with hatred in their hearts.

      I don’t want to defund police, but I do want folks who enter the profession to be psychologically profiled before being hired; retrained after being hired and monitored by the good cops (because when the good cops do not self-police the bad cops, they are just as guilty of the bad behavior we have seen. ) and punished appropriately.

      I am tired of hearing the excuses some police give for killing others (I feared for my life. But the person was running away and had no weapon? You’re STILL afraid? Maybe you should find another job.)

      It is not being disloyal to the police/law enforcement if we call for justice for all.

      The reality is minorities require the help of the majority to begin to have even a modicum of the fairness and justice required to eliminate the terrible way they are treated. We cannot put our heads in the sand and deny that others need our help.

      We are living in a time when #BlackLivesMatter is needed more and more given what our government is doing. (The president wants no education in schools or elsewhere that is needed to overcome bias, etc. In fact, he is banning it. Tells you, again, that white supremacists live and threaten others every day.)

      Unless, until every person is treated fairly with equal representation and justice, we are not free. I have personally given what is going on, thought long and hard about leaving this country. But I won’t do it. I’ll stay and vote and fight with others on behalf of others. It is our duty and our responsibility as fellow citizens and humans.

  54. Marie says...

    I really appreciate this column. This weekend I asked myself the very same question. I haven’t come to a conclusion yet but I’m glad to read the author’s thoughts.

  55. K says...

    Fantastic piece, and I can’t wait for more of this series! I feel like many blogs are currently trying to pivot to this material, but it feels SO organic with COJ because you have been incorporating these issues over the past few years. As always, thank you COJ team!!

  56. CL says...

    Welcome Christine! Already so grateful for your voice!

  57. JJ says...

    thank you thank you thank you for this — i have felt a similar pang of guilt/obligation in a repeated encounter with a racist — my friends kept telling me to block this person (who is not even a friend, just an old high school classmate) but i couldn’t bring myself to do it — my reasoning was that as a non-Black POC, continually putting myself through these debates with the hopes of educating or changing the mind of a person that could potentially be harmful to the Black community was worth it. but i would usually end up crying or enraged at every turn, taking hours to craft responses backed with thoughtful articles and emotional pleas only to be responded to immediately with thoughtless entitled garbage. but then i would fixate on the idea of “what if i’m the only person he knows who doesn’t think like him…am i his only hope for enlightenment?” — and then i finally realized: his reckoning/awakening is not my responsibility. he wasn’t interested in changing anything about the way he thinks, he just enjoyed debating for debates sake. bc his white male privilege blinds him from realizing that his “conversation topics” are the lives of a community that he doesn’t actually care about. the intention was argument not understanding. accepting that was freeing. my time and energy and love is better utilized elsewhere. i have compromised by restricting him on my ig rather than blocking so that i can see his messages on my own accord and decide if it is worth engaging or not. it usually isn’t. sending love to everyone out there!

  58. WENDY W says...

    Beautifully said. Thank you for this amazing column and your insight!

  59. Allegra LaViola says...

    Please don’t moderate the comments unless people are really going batshit. Please don’t post trigger warnings. We are adults. The responses to the comments has been amazing and well worth reading. Please keep this space open for discussion even if uncomfortable. Nobody grows in an echo chamber.

    • NH observer says...

      Totally agree.

    • Nicole says...

      Totally disagree. Why give (mostly) white people yet another free and open platform to air their unchecked “subtle” racism? At this point it’s willful ignorance. No.

    • Kathy says...

      I understand where you’re coming from – we are adults – but I’m not a black adult. I’m an Asian American, so I don’t truly empathize what it would feel like to know that the CoJ community also comprises of people who tout the “all lives matter” mantra. I am dismayed and disappointed that people who enjoy CoJ like myself would have such narrow-minded and ignorant viewpoints, but I’d imagine certain communities would feel more than just dismay and disappointment (more like disgust and anger) that in yet another seemingly open-minded and progressive online community, there are a some that still hold such damaging/uneducated viewpoints. So maybe if some BIPOC are requesting trigger warnings, than it’s warranted. It should be a peaceful community, and if you’re going to claim such a blatantly damaging and misinformed viewpoint as “all lives matter”, then your comment should be labeled as triggering for people who just want a safe, peaceful online haven where we don’t have debate whether systemic racism (or climate change, or a predominantly patriarchal society) exist.

    • Anony says...

      In regards to decisions about comment moderation, I think it might be helpful to consider the following quote:

      “When you debate a person about something that affects them more than it affects you, remember that it will take a much greater emotional toll on them than on you. For you it may feel like an academic exercise. For them it feels like revealing their pain only to have you dismiss their experience and sometimes their humanity.” (I’m sorry I don’t know the source)

      It is demeaning to just say “we are all adults” because you are not hurt in the same way by comments which are denying other people’s suffering and humanity.

      Perhaps deciding how to handle comments needs to come down to a question of CoJ’s priorities. Is it more important to facilitate discussion and debate? Or is it more important to ensure that BIPOC people feel safe in this community? 

      Personally, I know what my answer would be, but I still don’t envy the CoJ team as they attempt to find what is the best way to navigate this. Thank you to the team for persevering and fostering this community even in the hard times, and big thanks to Christine for her willingness to share her perspective and wise advice.

    • Marina says...

      Totally agree. Unless the comments are absolutely crazy, please don’t moderate.

      The BLM fight is fair, and true, and sooooo important, but it will not gain anything by ignoring the need for debate or by creating apartheid spaces, online or in real life.

      I agree the views on systemic racism are way more than a difference of opinion, but I also belive that adults, living in a democracy, do not need to be shielded from things/texts/political views they do not agree with. We all have to live together, after all – and find ways to do it, that’s exactly the problem.

    • Allegra LaViola says...

      Nicole- it’s a personal blog so obviously Jo and her team can do as they wish regarding comments. If they cut off all comments that would make more sense to me than having to decide whose comment is inappropriate or not. They could of course ban/delete people whose comments are beyond the pale. Reading through many of the comments here from people who aren’t “getting it” yet, and the (mostly) thoughtful and intelligent responses, it seems like an opportunity to inject reason and perhaps open discussions that might be difficult to have elsewhere in person (especially as people are isolated now). I have seen a lot of respectful disagreement on here and very little nastiness, so why not approach it with the same generosity that leads the rest of the blog?

    • Agnès says...

      Well, I went to a party a long long time ago; a man treated poorly one of my friend and my friend went to see the host and told her about it. She told the man to leave her house because she didn’t want my friend to feel unconfortable and believed he didn’t behave properly. Comments should be moderated, because, as one choose their guests, authors choose their readers (which does not mean readers should think the same, but they should behave respectfully).

    • Anna says...

      I wholeheartedly agree with you Allegra. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Give people the chance to air and defend their views, and give others the chance to rebut them (without tolerating abuse, of course). I was just reading a thread on Twitter that was hugely derogatory to women. It put all my defences up, made me feel shaky and furious and threatened to hear these young men talking with such casual disregard about women’s bodies (it was a fat-shaming thing). But would I see that thread shut down? Never. Never! Provided discussions aren’t abusive, my view is they must be allowed to occur in the open, always, everywhere. There can be no rigorous political discourse if everyone only hears what they want to hear. In fact, I’d rather see no comments here than curated comments, because I can just imagine what would happen if a comment then slipped through the net that was deemed unacceptable – people would turn on the moderators! I love CoJ because the community here is so respectful, it’s almost self-moderating. Please don’t change Cup of Jo.

    • NH observer says...

      Actually, I’ve now had a chance to reflect further and I think there is a big difference between moderating — which, as I understand it, includes removing or modifying comments or threads — and trigger warnings. I was too quick to conflate the two. Trigger warnings enable those who have been traumatized in the past to make a choice to participate in a discussion. Moderation, to me, changes the discussion itself. Thus, I would support trigger warnings, but would continue to have concerns about moderating the comments.

    • T says...

      What Nicole said one hundred times over.

    • I agree the last thing we want is an echo chamber and I think as long as we’re all civil and thoughtful the very point is to have discussions, uncomfortable ones. I so appreciate all the replies to your comment about the pros and cons of moderation and how to best handle/facilitate a dynamic comments section. We’re taking all the comments to heart and thinking deeply how to make this the best, safest, most productive place to drive important conversations and nurture a variety of perspectives that might help us all learn more and be better.

    • Adi says...

      I feel like that there’s been a shift in tone of the comments from yesterday to today when requests for moderation/trigger warnings were voiced. Just curious if you’ve been more actively moderating or has the readership reacted to these requests resulting in differently toned/softer comments?

    • Sarah says...

      I’m guessing you have never experienced a trigger, because if you had, you would not say “please don’t post trigger warnings”. These are important for people whose mental health can’t deal with life circumstances right now. Especially for the BIPOC community. This is part of caring for others, I would hope you’re on board with that.

    • Katey says...

      Trigger warnings are completely acceptable. Adults or not. People who suffer real trauma can and are triggered by reference to similar trauma. Some of these events lead to hospitalization; trauma is a serious issue.

      Trigger warnings are not about preventing people from feeling difficult emotions or having unwelcome thoughts. Trigger warnings are to prevent unnecessary exposure to trauma-inducing content. It is an important distinction to make.

  60. Ruth says...

    So excited to see a column with Christine! Also, by “healthy debate”, I assume you mean the kind of debate that allows people to express their views without interrupting them, and not “healthy debate” the way presidential candidates do it in 2020.

  61. Joaquina says...

    Should comments for this segment be closed or moderated?

  62. Susan says...

    Glad to see this column. I do hope you will have comment moderation. I see problems already.

  63. Libbynan says...

    In a very good book, “Bluff City,” the author quotes his wife’s analysis of race relations in Memphis, her home city. More or less, she says the black people want to survive and the white people want to not feel like dicks about their racism. She is white and so am I. This may be the most profound statement about American racism that I have ever read. This is what every POC with white friends is dealing with. Her so-called friend doesn’t want to feel like a dick for her racism, but it is not anyone’s job to let her off the hook
    I learned about systemic racism in Mississippi in 1955 at the age of 8. It was a harsh lesson that I have never forgotten. I have known since that day that color shouldn’t define us, but it still does. I do not let myself off the hook and I won’t allow anyone else off either. And don’t YOU! Not your job!

    • Nicole says...

      Thank you for sharing this. Looking forward to checking out your book recommendation.

    • Lisa says...

      I’m not American (South African, so we have for sure had our own things to deal with) but I have been following the situation in the USA. That quote also pretty much sums up the podcast “nice white parents”. I highly recommend if you have the time

  64. Michelle says...

    “And now more than ever we feel called to the noble purpose of winning hearts and minds. That’s how change happens: on an individual level, relationship by relationship — I accept and believe something because the people I love accept and believe something and that reinforces that belief.”

    Yikes… I’m sure that the author meant well but the problem with this is that it can work in any direction- for better or worse. I have to disagree! I think we should all strive to form our own opinions and think critically about why we feel the way we do, and choose for ourselves which issues we believe are the most pressing. If everyone on both sides stopped telling people what to think, and who to hate and how to feel we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now.

    • Kiana says...

      Michelle, I believe she’s referring to epistemology, the science of studying how people “know” what is true. Most people know something because someone they trusted told them that: your teacher, your pastor, your parent, your favorite news anchor, etc. You rarely have the chance to investigate and learn something independent of others influencing you. It does work both ways. Liberals believe things because sources we trust tell us police brutality and systemic racism are real. But conservatives have other sources, that feel just as authentic to them, telling them those things aren’t facts. I wish we were all critical thinkers who formed our own opinions but we’re not. At least most of us aren’t. I don’t sympathize with people who don’t believe racism is real but nor do I judge them for thinking it. Human beings are very tribal innately and seek information that supports their biases and things they think they know.
      Don’t know if I explained this well but thought this might be worth posting.

    • Nope says...

      You fail to realize that there are not “both (two) sides”. One side is trying to live and be left tf alone. The other side is determined to make that impossible through violence of all kinds. And have been for 400+ years. Please stop your non- sensical, co- signing of racism. Care enough about other human beings to let them exist SHOULD be your priority issue as a human being. If it isn’t, then I guess we all know which side you’re on.

    • pecanLoaf says...

      You said it Nope!

    • Michelle says...

      Hmmm, I wasn’t talking about racism- just argument in general. I thought that was a tricky idea to include (relying on the opinions of others to form our ideas) because of the influence of social media these days. Crazy/scary that one of the replies to my comment about thinking for ourselves was someone telling me what to think (and telling me what I think, though I’m not sure how you would know from my comment?).

      Kiana, thank you for your reply because it was so thoughtful and well-written, and if I wasn’t already in agreement with you it would have been super helpful :)

    • Veronica says...

      How is ones “own opinion” formed in a society without acknowledging that it is informed by the networks and relationships we choose to keep in our lives?

    • Emily says...

      @Michelle “Hmmm, I wasn’t talking about racism- just argument in general. I thought that was a tricky idea to include (relying on the opinions of others to form our ideas) because of the influence of social media these days.”

      This is literally a column about racism

    • Katey says...

      Hi Kiana.

      It is true we have tribal characteristics. I want to promote the concordant truth: humans have a diplomatic drive as well. Humans have long welcomed and sought out the values and wisdom of other communities. In addition to enjoying the comforts of what we know there are people who enjoy the the adventure of learning something new. Both are innate. Isn’t that nice? I want to remind us all of that.

  65. Sadie says...

    Another timely and empathetic piece <3

  66. Rebecca says...

    I mean, true – some people think pineapple belongs on pizza or (on a more serious note) that we should put in more bike trails instead of protecting land for honey bees. I can think those are bad ideas. However, racism is not just a “very bad idea.” It’s an attack on human rights. Not the same.

    • Kathy Hoang says...

      Lol I googled “are bike trails endangering honey bees” based on this comment. *the more you know*

  67. Ashley says...

    Love Christine’s writing and wise perspective so much. <3

  68. Sara says...

    Thank you for this post (and your lovely voice)! I’m currently dealing with a similar situation with my parents. I’m not giving up on them but the process and hurt of trying to educate them has been exhausting. Onward!

    • CL says...

      Hi Sara! I feel you and am going through the same. Please know you are not alone!

    • Katey says...

      Hi Sara.
      I’m presenting an alternative. I am no longer engaging with my parents on this topic. It was a disappointing outcome. But, instead of putting my energy into getting my parents to even listen to me, I’m putting my energy into raising anti-racist kids. (Picture a generation of kids raised with anti-racist ideals instead of racist or color-blind ideals. That’s progress.) Take all the arguments and passion you have for reaching your parents and direct it elsewhere.

      That’s what I’m doing. I’ll set an example for my kids, my siblings, my friends. But I don’t engage with my parents on any of the topics I care about. It is sad, but I feel like I’m actually making a difference instead of pouring a lot of my energy down the drain.

      It is disappointing. Good luck! Thank you for speaking out.

  69. Lou says...

    Umm, does anyone else think it’s crazy how many women are already popping up in the comments calling racism denial a “difference of opinion”? Say what? Is that how folks justify it?!

    • El says...

      Speaking as someone who is facilitating DEI events at a mostly-white institution…yes. That is exactly how they justify it. It’s f-cking exhausting.

    • Emily says...

      In a similar position to EL in my day to day and will echo that feeling of exhaustion. I get so wound up and physically tired when I’m around comments like these and trying to engage makes me feel like I’m picking at a scab. Like, why bother reading when I know I’m just gonna hurt myself?

      “Difference of opinion.” We’re talking about real human lives and well-documented violence. These aren’t theoretical points in an argument that has no material consequences.

  70. Audrey says...

    Thank you, Christine! I really love the idea of these posts and loved your writing. But I do agree that it’s going to be more triggering for people than usual and the comments either need to be turned off or moderated. No one is changing anyone’s mind in this comment section and it could get ugly.

  71. Moriah says...

    Christian woman here to say that I believe that God loves everyone and that everyone has equal worth BUT that doesn’t mean systemic racism doesn’t exist. I do not think that talking about racism causes separation- it only helps to validate the oppressed’s experience and help us have important conversations so that every person in this country can truly be equal. The Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t diminish the worth of anyone else.

    • Emilie says...

      Thank you for this, Moriah. It’s important to hear more from the pro-BLM Christian/religious/right.

    • Veronica says...

      Thank you for this.

    • Heather says...

      This is exactly right – those two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive. They are certainly both true and lead to a good discussion point: “God loves everyone so why would we allow… “

  72. Nicole says...

    This is a much welcomed addition to the usual fantastic CoJ posts. Thank you Christine and team.

  73. H. Hussain says...

    Thank you for your words, Christine. This is very appropriate for the times. I’m a non-black WOC, and I’m struggling to acknowledge my anger and hurt with certain white friends. Yes, there is love there, but I know I deserve peace. I deserve real safety and security in my friendships. If someone supports a party which considers me a terrorist, or does not acknowledge how racism is real, it is awful. In a way, it feels like they get off scott-free in their self-righteous thoughts while I am left feeling less-than… among other things. It doesn’t feel fair that I must bend over backwards to accept others when they can callously say “God loves us all equally.” Growing up, we had undercover police stake our house because of all the death threats and people coming to our door with weapons. If you’re really for everyone feeling safe, then everyone should be given that opportunity and not made to be an outsider/enemy.

    Also, thank you to the commenter who called out comments about all lives matter and the misuse of the MLK quote.

  74. Lauren says...

    I wonder if it would make anything clearer to imagine a hypothetical relative of yours having the same dilemma: “I love Agnes but I just don’t know what to do: she sees no problem with mothers killing their own babies. I’ve tried talking to her from all different angles but she hadn’t changed her thinking one bit! I don’t know what to do.” (I don’t have an answer of course.)

    • Inez says...

      Wow. Sneaking an anti-choice blow into the comments of this thoughtful piece on racism? Comment moderation is needed indeed.

    • Katie says...

      Oh jeez. I would lean towards comment moderation here, but I guess it is difficult for the CoJ team though. I think the majority of her readers are progressive, pro-choice, pro-BLM, pro-secularism, pro-environmentalist, just like the CoJ team is, based on many posts. But is it ethical for her to censor those readers who are religious conservatives? Those who don’t believe in climate change or systemic racism or womens’ rights? It’s strange that they even read this blog, given how it’s not really geared towards their demographic. Are they here purely just for the lipstick recommendations and none of the values, principles, or politics? I don’t know. I would say comment moderation is needed here too, but it’s a blurry line to draw – when do you allow healthy discussion about different perspectives vs when do you just stamp out the ignorant bigotry. She can’t really just say “oh I’m sorry if you’re pro-life or seriously doubt systemic racism, your opinions are not welcome here – comment blocked”, you know?

    • courtney says...

      Maybe you missed the point of the question at hand.

    • Sarah says...

      The answer here is that it’s Agnes’s life and choice. It literally does not affect anyone else involved, especially the person who she is talking to. Also, the abortion topic is not the same as racism. One is a choice that affects mother, baby, and partner and no one else. The latter is a huge, systemic, global issue that warrants accountability.

    • Lauren says...

      I’m actually pro-choice; I chose that example with the goal of looking at things from a different perspective. I used to think abortion was wrong, and I know that abortion actually is a systemic issue to many pro-lifers: I really did see it as state-sanctioned murder of the most vulnerable among us. I guess I’m worked up about the election; I really wish that both ‘sides’ made an effort to understand each other more. If we don’t find far-right Trump supporters very convincing when they mock us, why would we expect them to listen to the same from us? This is something Obama was fantastic about, right to the very end: respecting people with different views, without compromising his own. I think that makes sense?

  75. Macauley says...

    Stopping by to voice support for this new column, Christine, and all of the anti-racism dialogue that the Cup of Jo Team is fostering. Thank you!

  76. Denise says...

    Good answer Christina, thank you. You don’t have to remain close to people who put you down but I specifically like that you advised to leave the door open for future interaction. People do change. I am not the same person I was 10 years ago in regards to ignorance about systemic racism. Privilege blinds but education and empathy can open someone’s mind. I appreciate this Race Matters series to that end. We all need to talk about systemic racism.

    • Emilie says...

      Agreed Denise! Absolutely here for all of Christina’s commentary and am so happy to see this thread. Sharing it with folks who are going through similar challenges.

      But people do change. I admit (white privileged woman here) that I almost got an MLK quote tattooed on my inner wrist in 2005, while in a “we’re all one people” mindset :|

      Mindsets and understanding evolve, but the change has to be one’s own work.

    • Sensha says...

      But “leaving the door open” is a really personal decision and largely metaphorical. I am white but I’ve closed that door and locked it to several people in my life relatives included but I have also let them know that should they ever want to knock I will open the door. Boundaries, but with love, because I always want to believe in people. I know they will never knock and that just underscores my decision. That they do is an option I will always hope for but I no longer waste actual energy on them. Let me tell you, the feeling of liberation from letting go of the struggle feels way better than any regret or loss for the “relationship”.

  77. LEE ANN says...

    Just wanted to say how much I love Christine’s voice. Looking forward to more pieces from her.

    • Katie says...

      Agreed!

  78. Sarah K says...

    Is becoming a fully woke social justice warrior a goal for everyone now? Does your worldview require you to categorize everyone as an oppressor or as an oppressed, and how is this beneficial to you? Will you end your friendship because she doesn’t swallow Critical Theory whole? I think that comparing this to being a Nazi is unduly harsh. But it doesn’t sound like your friendship was very solid anyway, so maybe it’s best to just let it die out.

    • Michaela says...

      I really dislike this framing we’ve been told, this idea of everyone needing to be a “fully woke social justice warrior.” That’s a lot of buzzwords! What I see it as is an opportunity to become not “woke” but awakened to the diversity of the world and other people’s experiences—which is beautiful, fulfilling, expansive, and yes, occasionally difficult and frustrating. I don’t know why people find striving for social justice to be a negative, either.

    • Kim says...

      She did not compare this “friend” to a Nazi. That was just you putting two and two together. She was contrasting differences of opinions. Some are fine, and you can move past them, some- like being a literal Nazi are things you can’t get past.

    • El says...

      Hi, Sarah! Yes, some important elements of being a good friend include capacity for empathy and the ability to recognize others’ experiences may differ from your own.

    • honey says...

      I find the tone of your comment yucky for many reasons – her “friend” totally denied her feelings about a vital issue. What kind of friend is that? One who does. not. care. about. you. Why are you implying she’s being rash to drop her like a dirty rock? Blaming the victim is one of the least conscious things you can do.

    • Sara says...

      I think your reading/interpretation of this article is flawed. I can’t tell if this is willful ignorance to advance an agenda or you truly don’t understand the nuance here.

    • Lea says...

      Yes, we are all coming to realize that you are either racist or anti-racist. There is no in between. There are some excellent books on this topic by Ibram X. Kendi that you may find helpful. This is a new understanding for me as well, and one I have appreciated discovering.

    • JT says...

      Isn’t advocating for social justice and being aware of inequalities a good goal?

    • Annie says...

      Sarah, I think that should be everyone’s goal, yes. We’ve all been asleep for a long long long time. The problem is that some people are simply refusing to open their eyes to the pain of others, and by doing so will never empathize with them. Our world needs more empathy and that is what we should all be striving for.

      PS. She did not refer to her friend as a Nazi. It was simply an example of, again, a way in which someone refuses to open their eyes.

    • ARC says...

      CoJ team, I believe that this would also be a good case to use some comment moderation. This comment sounds more like a troll than like an actual contribution to a thoughtful conversation, and it must be incredibly painful to read for any POC. Thank you for the consideration.

    • Lauren says...

      Sarah, in response to your question of whether ” ‘[my’ worldview require me to categorize everyone as an oppressor or as an oppressed and how is this beneficial to [me]?” I would point to Angela Davis’ quote, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.”

      If you’re not thinking about ways that you can make the world less racist that means that you’re okay with the status quo and anyone who is okay with the deep racial problems in our world is, in my opinion, racist.

      Rachel says that her friend doesn’t believe that systemic racism is real which leads me to believe that she is okay with how she (potentially unconsciously) contributes to these problems in our society.

      Are my efforts to be anti-racist beneficial to me? Probably not, besides that it helps me sleep at night. Frankly I would rather spend my time talking about less difficult topics or spend my money on new shoes. But POC have carried this burden for far too long, white women like me need to step up and keep (imperfectly) working towards making the world less racist.

    • JT says...

      I think that’s a great goal! (Seriously! That sounds glib but I mean it.) We should all be fighting for social justice and working hard to understand where we fit into systems of oppression and how we can change them.

    • Moo says...

      Thank you for this. I really appreciate the thoughtful response. I hope those readers whose first reaction is defensiveness is to take a beat and ask why instead of asking for proof of the friend’s racism. God may love all people equally but he isn’t the one making the laws, holding the gun, or spewing hate. It’s very flawed people doing all of that and they need to be held accountable.

    • Sarah K says...

      Lea, Ibram Kendi very recently accused white people who adopt black children of racism and “colonization”, making the children “props in their lifelong pictures of denial”. It’s still on his Twitter. His beliefs are not unproblematic and if I were part of a mixed-race family I would find them deeply hurtful.

    • Kirsten says...

      Sarak K in regards to your response to Lea – I doubt you’re actually open to thinking through this based on the dog whistle words you’re using in your comments, but Ibram X Kendo’s Twitter post can be true AND cross-racial adoptive parents can love their adopted children. These can both be true. You can be participating in a colonizing relationship and you can also be trying to do the right thing. You can love the heck out of your kid and still hurt them, intentionally or unintentionally. And refusing to acknowledge the fact that race exists is harmful to those children.

    • Lo says...

      Lea, I agree but I also think the reason I agree is partly due to the privilege I had of going to university. I don’t fault someone for not having liberal views if they’ve never known anything but the old ways. At a university one finds many many liberals to the point they seem normal (I came from a very isolated rural area); back home, a liberal was kind of a foreign kook to dismiss out of hand: you, for example: would you listen thoughtfully to an anti-vaxxer? Not to compare them, I just mean that that was the level of prejudice standing in the way of change. I hope that makes some sense.

  79. Jill says...

    Oof, this is hard. I’ve been working through a related but very different situation, of one of my oldest friends acting in an unethical way that I’m finding very hard to process. (In my case it’s about a long-term affair though, not a race issue.) It’s hard when someone you used to be so similar to takes a few turns down the road and ends up in a place you really don’t agree with. I think Christine is wise to read between the lines of the letter and relieve the author of the ‘guilt’ of not trying to change her friend’s action if it is no longer a friendship she feels connected to. But boy, that’s a hard thing to step back from in practice. Xx

  80. Kelly says...

    Thank you for starting this column, Christine is fantastic

  81. Meredith says...

    Just adding to the support of this new column. Separate and apart from how deftly she handled the content of the answer (which she did), I just loved Christine’s writerly voice. Her words on the screen sounded in my mind like the voice of someone who’s already a friend. CoJ really nails that overall, and this column such a welcome addition both in topic and tone.

    • Amanda H says...

      Absolutely agree! Thank you CoJ team!

    • Megan says...

      What Meredith said, for sure! Thanks Christine and CoJ–well done.

    • anni says...

      Agreed. Thank you!

    • “The voice of someone who’s already a friend” is just about the highest writerly praise I could ever get! Thank you Meredith, for the kind words and for reading!

  82. Laura says...

    Same. It’s honestly heart-breaking and exhausted. I’m just so disappointed and scared that I know I’ll never be able to forget what they (most haven’t) done or said.

  83. BD says...

    good job CupofJo Team, again :)

  84. Jennifer says...

    Rachel, you call your friend racist, but what are the examples of her racist behavior outside of her having a different opinion than you?

    “Each point was rounded off with a cliché about God loving everyone equally, in what felt to me like a Get Out of Racism Free card.” Why do you think that by saying all people are loved by God equally means someone is racist?

    Have we forgotten the MJK Jr. quote: “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    This constant emphasis of race and tribalism over collective community is what is dividing us.

    • Jordan G says...

      Hi Jennifer,

      I’ve never commented before but I wanted to thank you for your comment. As a WHITE woman who loves and respects everyone no matter their race, color, or religion, it’s important to question what makes someone a racist? Is it because they believe all lives matter? That doesn’t make you a racist IMO. Thank you.

    • Amber Marlow says...

      Hey Cup of Jo team!

      Comments like this, particularly the line “this constant emphasis of race and tribalism over collective community is what is dividing us” really, really hurt Black people.

      I beg you to moderate, or else put a trigger warning at the top that you’re allowing “subtle racism” aka the “can’t we all just ignore race and get along” talk. Because it *is* triggering to Black readers like myself, and please make no mistake: it’s racist. It’s robed in sweet-sounding sentiment and devoid of vile epithets, yes, but it’s still racism.

      A lot of white people are finding their usual hangouts on the internet are sporting new “Black Lives Matter” messaging, and they’re thinking this is a “hot new topic” that is constantly coming up and getting worn out by all this new race talk.

      The reality is Black people have been having these same issues for years and years, and now people are finally starting to talk about them. That’s fantastic, but where I see white-owned spaces go wrong is allowing talk like this in the name of “allowing all sides” in the comments section of Facebook, Instagram, and blog comments.

      We are so, so very tired. Please think hard about comment policies as you go forward with this column, which I am so excited to read.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thank you, Amber. Christine and I will discuss and think deeply about comment moderation here. Thank you so much. xo

    • Anna says...

      Hi Jennifer – the letter-writer may have included this as an example of the spiritual bypassing we can employ to avoid doing the hard work of examining our implicit bias. For Christians this could be something like, “God loves everyone equally, so systemic racism isn’t a thing,” or for Buddhists it might be “we’re all one, so why should I engage in the fight against racism since ultimately there’s no separation?” This can be a way of shutting down challenging conversations and avoiding examining closely-held beliefs that are in fact grounded in the racist ideas we’ve absorbed from the culture.

    • Mariela says...

      If you believe God loves everyone equally, then you should be able to say systemic racism exists and Black Lives Matter. If you can’t, it is clear you DON’T believe all lives matter, especially not equally. You just want to be lazy, keep enjoying your privilege and not having to use your mind too much? White feelings are NOT more important than Black lives. And you would believe in that too, if you TRULY believed that God loves everyone equally.

    • Emilie says...

      Jennifer,

      Rachel made the racist behaviour clear “she doesn’t believe that systemic racism is real”. That is not a “difference in opinion” comparable to other differences in a friendship, like wanting kids or not, or being interested in swimming rather than horseback riding.

      Acknowledging the existence of systemic racism is not tribalism. The “everyone is equal” colourblind mantra circa the 1980s/1990s that you are touting minimizes and ignores real, measurable and statistically vast disadvantages that our societal structures perpetuate against non-white people. This is not a controversial point – you can read about it here:
      https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/culturally-speaking/201112/colorblind-ideology-is-form-racism
      (This piece refers to your MLK quote and addresses how, out of good intention, it is often applied improperly.)

      No one is trying to be mean or divisive to point out the realities of systemic racism – it is as tangible and statistically salient as the earth being round and ocean water being salty.

      What is unacceptable today is to deny its existence. As Christine points out, the white knee-jerk reaction to do so is “a defense mechanism to protect her privilege (a tale as old as time)”. But we know better and can do so no longer.

      Please do not call this tribalism or an “emphasis on race”. In order to work toward the collective community you seek, it is imperative to acknowledge and show compassion toward people who have had vastly different access to power and opportunity than you, if you are white, simply because they are not.

    • Morgan says...

      All lives won’t matter until Black lives matter. And our country’s police force and leadership has systematically devalued Black lives via police brutality, education inequality, and other barriers. Saying All Lives Matter erases that fact to facilitate white comfort. It’s hard to be anti-racist if you willfully bypass the existence of racism.

      More ways to help you understand this here: https://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12136140/black-all-lives-matter

      CoJ team: Thanks for the new column! I’m looking forward to it.

    • ROSE says...

      I think the tension comes from using the phrase “God loves everyone equally” or “I see everyone the same” as a way to discount the lived experiences of BIPOC. It is entirely possible to believe that God loves everyone equally and to also acknowledge and accept that historically and currently our systems and institutions do not reflect this belief.

      Rather than lament “tribalism,” a better way to foster collective community would be to listen to those who have lived different experiences, understanding that those experiences have been shaped, in part, by their race and commit to working towards dismantling the parts of our society that systematically oppress members of our society, so that our American experience can truly be shared, collectively.

    • Kat van der Hoorn says...

      Just want to emphasize support Amber in everything she wrote to the COJ team. (For context I am a white woman and don’t know shit but I’m doing my best to learn from black women.) White people, like Jennifer, quoting handy MLK quotes while ignoring the multitudes of his other teachings that highlighted how fundamentally racist white American society is, is racist and it is violence. Saying “the constant emphasis of race and tribalism over collective community” when the collective community has systematically kept black people from opportunity and equal success is racist, and is violence. Jordan, saying “All lives matter” (and WHITE in all capitals) is using a racist ploy, which is violence. Please do not create one column for Black people and for white people to learn and then make it a breeding ground for racist white women to vent their frustration that they actually have to learn, grow and adapt to actually not be racist, or be anti-racist.

    • Amy says...

      There is no such thing as “collective community” for Black people. To think that there is is to completely ignore issues that Black people are *telling you* exist, and that are not difficult to see once you are aware of them. I believe that you think you have good intentions, but the effect of your mindset is to gaslight generations of mistreatment and oppression.

    • D Smith says...

      Hi Amber – I respect your opinion although I disagree. I am a Black woman living in a very diverse US city and have a very diverse extended family. I think that the last statement made by Jennifer has validity (“This constant emphasis of race and tribalism over collective community is what is dividing us.”).
      I also don’t believe that white children are born racist which is a lot of what is being discussed these days (not saying you think that, I don’t know). In fact I believe that this will create a new generation of division and oppression because children are being fed this misinformation today.

    • Georgia says...

      I am literally shaking after reading this comment. I will print your comment out and discuss it with my racism psychologist at our daily meeting. I don’t know how I will get through tonight though. There should be a trigger warning on these hateful comments!

      lol.

    • Joyce says...

      Jennifer and Jordan,

      As a white woman, I empathize with you. I wanted to share a teaching taught by Ruth King years ago at a mediation center in Manhattan that has stuck with me.

      In ultimate reality, King posited, all ARE one. Said another way: We are all children of God. Or: We are all created equally. Or even: all lives matter. (Though she didn’t use those words I don’t think because it wasn’t a phrase back then.)

      But in relative reality, our Black brothers and sisters and TGNC siblings are telling us: That’s not true for me. I am NOT treated equally. I am not treated as if I matter. I am not treated as if I am made in God’s image.

      If we use our ultimate reality to deny their relative reality, that’s not love. That’s privilege. That’s denial. To love is to listen. Thich Nhat Hanh says love begins with understanding. You must understand the situation of your Black brothers and Black sisters and Black TGNC siblings — and then you will be able to see you are denying their experience. And by claiming “all lives matter” you are harming them.

      Sending you Love on this journey of awakening.

    • Daniah Din says...

      Amber – thank you so much for your comment. As a non-black woman of color, I find comments like these incredibly upsetting as well. I understand people might be well meaning, but it’s so incredibly exhausting when folks are critical when people of color talk about the racism they deal with, and I can’t even begin to imagine what the experience is like for black people who face so much racism in this country. I think there’s a difference between open discussions/debate, and people denying the very real and dangerous implications of racism in all of its forms.

    • Jennifer Sze says...

      I agree whole heartedly with what Amber has said. Some of these comments so far feel so hurtful and outrageous. Thank you for having a conversation about moderating the comments to prevent further harm.

    • Katie says...

      Yes to everything Amber said.

    • Vivian says...

      The problem with the friend’s line of thinking is this:

      God loves everyone equally = god loves the victims of racism and the perpetrators the same.

      If God loves everyone equally, then I will love everyone equally thus absolving me aka I am not a racist.

      The problem however is that you can’t love someone who is BIPOC and suffering at the hands of those who are abusing power and status at their expense and love the abusers equally at the same time because you then in turn become an added source of to the suffering. The love (or at the very least acceptance) of the latter inherently cancels the prior. It cannot coexist.

      On another hand, do you think this friend is also a women’s rights denier? Do you think the friend goes around claiming God loves men and women the same and thus can’t condemn when men when they commit crimes against women? I don’t personally know the friend so I can’t say for certain, but I have a feeling that she’s only using that rhetoric on race issues.

    • Eliza says...

      If a friend were to respond to my stories about the times I’ve faced sexual harassment and misogyny with “God loves everyone equally” or “his life matters too,” I would feel unheard, dismissed, and insulted. I would think that person doesn’t understand how harmful and omnipresent sexism and harassment are. I would wonder if they’re trying to excuse their own lapses. And how dare they respond to my harassment by supporting the perpetrator’s right to free speech. The same logic applies in discussions on racism. Racism is real and it is wrong, full stop. We need to listen to those who’ve experienced it. We need to not absolve those who perpetrate it. We need to remember that God’s love does not make racism acceptable, invisible, or nonexistent. Our thoughts and actions are not inherently right or harmless simply because we’re allowed to think or act.

    • Rebecca says...

      I completely agree with Jennifer’s comment- I read the letter and what struck me was that the author called her friend a racist but couldn’t cite any examples of this (outside of simply having a difference of opinion). The author then went on to say that her friend is “content with systems of white supremacy.” This is a *huge* leap and nothing in the letter indicates that her friend is a racist or a borderline white supremacist. What strikes me about the tone of “dialogue” in our country (if you can even call it that) is that there is no room for nuance, learning, empathy, or growth anymore. You’re either in or you’re cancelled. And comments calling for trigger warning labels or for comments that offer slightly different opinions to be deleted is incredibly alarming. Conversation and dialogue are the bedrock of our democracy, let’s not forget that! Thank you.

    • Sensha says...

      @ D Smith, As an Independent who will vote Dem for many reasons, I have nevertheless been trying to understand Trump’s perspective on the race issue and your comment seems to clarify it for me: “I believe that this will create a new generation of division and oppression because children are being fed this misinformation today”. Is my understanding of this correct?

      I will still be voting for the environment and for many other vital issues Trump does not address. I truly believe he is a terrible manager; our nation is in flames, literally and metaphorically, but I now see a bit of truth in this perspective regarding the focus on race.

      Of course, a stack of lies mixed in with a bit of truth is the oldest trick in the book for deluding people. Nevertheless, thank you very much for your comment, something about it helped me to refine my focus regarding racism to a healthier place.

    • Hi- I just wanted to pipe in since this comment sparked a vigorous discussion, which lead to calls of moderating…

      It’s tricky territory, but I take your point and response, Amber (and others), and I hear you-I don’t want any person, least of all a person of color, to feel demeaned, or harassed in this community. The whole goal of this column is to foster a community of understanding and education. Sometimes this may mean that we hear difficult thoughts or opinions (as is life, so is the comment section), but we don’t want anyone to feel attacked or unwelcomed either. Joanna and I had a talk today about comment moderation and are going to think more deeply about how to ensure that everyone feels safe here, and also free to share thoughts and ideas that may be disagreeable, but not outright offensive. Obviously that line is different for everyone and it’s a tricky balance. But Joanna and I are both committed to trying to get it right! So more soon.

      Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts and opinions about this. It helps to hear from you!

    • Tis says...

      @ Rebecca The letter writer very clearly gave an example of racism. She said her friend doesn’t believe in systemic racism. That’s not a “difference in opinion” Rebecca. That’s a fact. Systemic racism has existed for centuries, and it’s time to believe it. Further, the truth is, there’s plenty of room for nuance, learning, empathy, or growth in our society…but it’s you, Rebecca and Jennifer, who need to do that work.

    • H says...

      Hi Jennifer,
      I’m your very close friend. I’ve been hurt for almost my entire life. I didn’t want to tell you how badly I’ve been suffering because I know how you feel about people who complain. I know you think I should not complain because things could always be worse. There’s so much to be grateful for. I suppose that is true but I still feel pain I can’t ignore. It overwhelms me some time.

      I once tried to tell you how sad I was and how scared I felt. You turned me away. I needed your help but you couldn’t make the time for me. Could you make time for me, now? I won’t ask much from you. I know you don’t want to hear me complain. But would you please sit with me quietly and hold my hand while I tell you about my life?

  85. ST says...

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m growing threw a breakup with someone (white/cis/male) who identified strongly with the ideas of white fragility. I, for reference, am a non-black POC. It was too challenging for him to do the anti-racist work, I think largely because he had to confront the realities of his family, who are all Trump voters and mostly ex-cops. It’s such an abrupt and horrible breakup because he was so wonderful in so many ways. The terrible thing about this time is that sometimes lines are just drawn, and once those lines are delineated, chosen, and crossed, we can’t come back from it. I wish so badly that we could reach across these lines, but it requires both people to reach.

    I think it’s more than just seeing people for all of the good and bad things they are. And some point, people make a choice. To me, that’s the hardest part to acknowledge about all of this.

    • Kim says...

      I love the phrase “growing through a breakup”….what a great way to look at a painful and challenging situation.

    • Rebecca says...

      Sending you a huge hug for standing your ground and making that incredibly difficult choice. I know it sounds cliche, but there is certainly someone out there for you willing to reach for you and grow with you.

    • PY says...

      I was wondering if this article/readers question could be applied to a romantic relationship and here we are! Thank you for sharing your story and thoughts during this time of growth.

    • ST says...

      These sweet replies have really been wonderful in such a dark time. There are two very ironic things I’d like to clarify. First, he actually broke up with me. After a few hard conversations, I realized I needed to step back and let him grow and learn at his own pace. I loved him and tried my best to be better about meeting him where he was at. But his reason for ending it was that he felt tired of always feeling like he was wrong and always playing catch-up. Second, I was so emotional when I wrote this that I accidentally put “growing” instead of “going”, but am so glad I did. This has been one of the hardest experiences of my life, but all we can do is try to grow.

  86. Allie says...

    CoJ for the win again. Love that I can come here for honest advice about difficult topics AND a lipstick recommendation.

    • Midge says...

      Could not agree more. Such a magic mix of topics and voices.

  87. LS says...

    Hey – can you add a source for, “In June of this year, more than 60% of Americans cited ‘racial and ethnic discrimination’ as a ‘big problem’ in the United States. Five years ago that number was just under 50% and four years before that, just 21%.” Not questioning whether or not it’s true — I’d just really like to read more about that change and potentially share it with others. To me, it’s a little piece of positive news in a sea of negativity. :)

    • Hi LS: The stats come from another places. And are slightly different at various places they’ve been reported– including The New York Times, and the Atlantic (both the August and the November issues had articles that cited these numbers which came from Pew Studies). I crossed checked the source (Pew) by looking up several studies and related articles. Here’s a link to one of them for further reading : https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/04/09/race-in-america-2019/

  88. Molly says...

    Thank you for these wise, thoughtful and kind words. I so appreciated this advice and will use it, too.

  89. Claire says...

    I’ve ended a couple of friendships over the years and it is truly one of the most painful things to experience, perhaps worse than a breakup with a romantic partner (because I always assume that my friendships will last the course). In evaluating whether a friendship needed to end, I had periods of back and forth: perhaps I’m too sensitive, perhaps I’m not sufficiently understanding their viewpoints and need to apologize, perhaps it’ll get better. Ultimately, I’ve asked myself: do I stand by my beliefs and feel as though I’ve respectfully articulated them? Do I understand (I don’t have to agree, just understand) what they think? If it’s not possible for us to meet in the middle, can I accept and live with a friendship that continues in this exact same trajectory?

    In a few cases, when I examined these questions, I realized that I was feeling mistreated by a friend and, despite pleasant times in the past, I was uncomfortable moving forward if it was unlikely to change. I think Christine’s advice is excellent and applies to so many situations where a relationship’s future is called into question. As one reader mentioned, I wouldn’t count on the possibility that asking to end a relationship will inspire the other person to rethink their actions. In my own life, one person became very angry and another person stopped responding altogether; perhaps in rare cases it’d lead to a different outcome, but I think it’s likely going to breed defensiveness.

    Thank you for opening up this conversation on COJ, Joanna. We talk about romantic relationships ending, or even strained family relationships, but the end of friendships is incredibly difficult, too.

  90. Daxi says...

    At his memorial service in 2016, to sum up their friendship, RBG quoted Judge Scalia: “I attack ideas. I don’t attack people. Some very good people have some very bad ideas.”

    • Em says...

      How can those two things be separate? Don’t your ideas inform your actions and treatment of others?

    • Tess says...

      Daxi- I’m not sure if this was meant this way, but I read this comment as an argument to stay in the friendship and overlook the racism- to love the sinner, hate the sin etc.

      I would urge you to consider that to ask a POC to stay in a relationship with a person who has racist beliefs is asking a that POC person to stay in a relationship with someone who denies their pain, denies their reality, and considers the prejudice and subjugation that they live under to be an acceptable system. This is not, as Christine said, a difference of “opinion” or “ideas”. The sooner we all recognize that, the better. Racists have been hiding behind these kinds of well-meaning arguments for generations.

    • jane says...

      Em, people learn and grow and mature through some very bad ideas – it’s quite common. It’s the nature of life on Earth and called “learning from our mistakes. Therefore people are NOT their ideas

    • El says...

      The personal is political, and to be able to separate those things means you move through the world with incredible privilege. For example, Scalia and Ginsburg didn’t face situations like a health crisis without insurance, an unwanted pregnancy in a state that didn’t support abortion, or constant attempts to undermine his right to vote. Good people DO have bad ideas, but it’s a moral imperative to help them dismantle and see past those bad ideas. It sounds like this person’s friend isn’t willing to take that step, unfortunately.

    • jane says...

      hit send too soooon!…I was saying, that is why we have forgiveness and compassion. And why all these computer algorithms we are surrendering our decisions to are so dangerous for humanity – they LACK humanity and the absolute requirement for empathy, compassion and the moral nuance necessary to make humane decisions .

    • El says...

      Also, I don’t think I made it clear, but the examples I gave re: Ginsburg and Scalia are all vicious policies that Scalia helped uphold– chipping away at healthcare, abortion rights, and voter rights– and which have made life measurably more difficult for lots of already-vulnerable people in this country.

    • Sara says...

      Em – I agree and disagree with you. It’s such a hard thing. For example, my father-in-law is a big Trump supporter Fox News type of guy. I find that part of him incomprehensible, sad, and yes, deplorable. BUT in every other way I know him he is a fantastic person. He’s a loving, helpful father, grandfather and husband. Do I discount all the positive things about him even when there is this glaring negative? Some days it feels like yes, but most days I understand we can have huge differences in opinion and still find common ground in other important areas.

      That said, it makes it easier to give leeway on this when it’s a close family member. I am not nearly so understanding with more distant family members, and I don’t know that a friendship could survive such a huge difference in such a big thing.

    • Becca says...

      To agree with Em’s reply—separating the idea that informed the action from the action itself is often used as an attempt to “intellectualize” racism or other forms of oppression. In this case, I find RBG’s attempted separation dangerous, despite her acknowledgement at the end of the quote—especially in light of Christine’s writing above. We should not attempt to separate people from the ideas that they hold tightly to, particularly when those ideas infringe on other people’s humanity. It is for this reason that I have separated myself from friends and family members who hold problematic ideas about the existence of racism, white privilege, and systems of oppression. Those ideas turn into votes.

    • Caitlin says...

      Fantastic and I’m looking forward to more of this! Thank you Christine and team!

  91. Andi says...

    Thank you for this. Looking forward to more of these.

  92. Sarah says...

    I’d add, as a non Black POC married to a Black man, that the equation becomes even more complicated. Two members of my own family, still in the small town we grew up in, have become aligned with very hard right thinking, and do not denounce overt racism and white supremacy. While I haven’t seen them fully embrace it…the silence is defening, and shows me where they stand.

    That has been very hard, as these are cousins I was once very close with / lived with (and because our entire family is quite diverse, so they are around a number of children of color when they are discussing their views.) I feel such anger all the time when thinking about them, but I’m at a loss as to what to do. If I thought conversation would help, I would, but I see how they shut people down in facebook conversations, ridicule people, etc. It’s just painful, but I don’t want my Black toddler to play with their kids when we visit, which is a loss.

    • anonforthis says...

      Just sending support – that’s such a tough spot to be in with family. For me it’s my mother as well as some of her family, and you protecting your kids from that is a gift I wish I’d been given.

      There are better, non-poisonous sources of family love & support (chosen families, it sounds like your other family) that don’t undermine your children. All the best from a random person on the internet cheering your parenting on.

  93. liz says...

    I’m dealing with this problem , except it’s with my parents. it’s terrible. Feel for you.

    • emily says...

      same here – it makes me feel sad that after an attempt on my part to discuss systemic racism, my mom would prefer to avoid any potential “controversial” issues, and we are settling for a superficial relationship to discuss only what you ate for dinner, are you exercising these days, etc.

  94. Annie K. says...

    I appreciate this advice column so much. I’m also struggling, but with some good friends who I respect greatly. I’m very impatient on the topicS close to my heart. Like, my blood pressure skyrockets and I get all blustery and “intense”. I’ve realized that I’m at risk of damaging my friendships as well as possibly their desire for further introspection. As much as I’d like to be a champion in this way, I’ve realized I need to pivot my attentions elsewhere – donating, amplifying BIPOC voices, my own unpacking work. There are lots of tools in a tool belt.

  95. Thank you for this very important, timely column!

  96. Andrea says...

    As someone who came from a smaller, homogenous city and have many friends and family members still living there, I think understanding where this is coming from helps. Is your friend racist/antivax/anti-science/right wing or is s/he small-minded? Or is s/he racist/antivax/anti-science/right wing because s/he is small-minded?

    If you live in a socio-economic bubble where everyone is from the same social class and shares the same ethnic background, it’s hard to have real-life experience of people who live in more diverse circumstances.

    Cosmopolitanism is not a hallmark of every place in America. When I go back home, people look at my ID and marvel that I live on the other coast (and I have to hand my ID over nearly every time I use a credit card because of theft due to opiod addiction in my hometown). There are a thousand markers that our lives are different.

    Do I toss away relationships where thought is also a marker of difference? Not always. I think who people are is more important than the opinions they hold. Is this person kind? Are they loving toward others? If they visited you in your new home would they be unkind to people of other ethnic backgrounds?

    I think we are called to speak the truth in love. And people’s truths are complicated. I don’t back down from engaging people when I hear something off, but I also know my friend is more than the anti-vax hole she is now down.

    • anna says...

      I really appreciate this perspective – nuanced and careful. Thank you.

    • Paige says...

      This is an excellent and super thoughtful comment. I whole-heartedly agree!

    • E says...

      I’m also from a small town but now live in a big city. I don’t believe that the friend refusing to accept that systemic racism is real is a matter of being cosmopolitan or not.

      My dad is an alcoholic in recovery. Even though he has been sober for years, there is residual trauma from my childhood. The majority of my friends do not share my childhood experience. But, when I speak of it, no one denies that this trauma that I feel is real.

      I’m sure that the writer Rachel has implored her friend to understand her experience as a POC and it appears this friend refused to believe that this trauma she experiences (systemic racism) exists.

      Can you see where she would feel upset?

    • Natash says...

      Wow — what a well-articulated perspective. I read this comment twice!

    • soama says...

      Yes, very, very well put. Giving people who are already in your life space to integrate – like, literally that word, is a very gracious thing to do for loved ones who don’t quite “get it” yet.

      My mother will argue a point with me to the ground and then I’ll overhear her in conversation spouting my stance word for word. It is tiresome but she has taught me that it is worth the work of speaking your truth – even as it changes and grows – because it just might be hitting home even if someone’s ego is too big to admit it in the moment. It requires strength.

    • Anna says...

      Could not agree more. Thank you, Andrea.

    • Meg says...

      I will think about this over and over again. Thank you

    • Andrea says...

      Hi E

      I do see why she would be upset and I’ve also been in her shoes. What I’ve seen is, like Soama states, that people learn from relationships and in relationships. It’s easy to adopt or spout back a party line without thinking much about it. But, people in our lives who care for us can provide other ways to think about this party line.

      I had a visitor from my hometown come to The Big City and we were driving around. She made a comment about a Black woman’s hair and how much it must have cost to get those braids. We were in a poor neighborhood, so maybe it was a commentary, too, on poor people’s spending habits (the visitor is also poor, so there is always an undertow about what people can and can’t afford in life).

      I didn’t jump on her about how that’s a racist. Instead, I told her what a friends spends on braids, how long it takes to get them (holy Lord, I could never sit that long!), how long they tend to last and how it’s, in some respects, a price society forces on Black women to look “presentable.”

      There is a lot of programming in our country that tries to gin up animosity between groups of poor people. I can see that ignorance and in my visitor’s comment (the implication that that woman in a poor neighborhood was vainly wasting money). Evoking empathy and providing context, in my opinion, is a better way to provide a counter narrative to “the enemy of poor people is other poor people.”

  97. jen says...

    I love this. I would love to know what the advice would be for relatives.

  98. Sonja says...

    I don’t keep a diary but once again COJ has been reading it. Thank you, Christine!

  99. Heather says...

    What a well though out and articulated response for such a difficult situation, Christine. You really distilled it down to the most vital issues.

    Thank you so much to the Cup of Jo team for having this content – especially on an ongoing basis – its much appreciated!

  100. CM says...

    Hi Christine, thanks for your thoughtful advice. I want to offer my opinion as well. Of course, you are never under an obligation to keep being someone’s friend. If the conversations are truly affecting your mental health and energy, I agree that you have every right to cut it off and should for your own wellbeing. On the flip side, I also believe that change starts in our own backyards and that the most powerful action is working locally and changing the minds of those around us. Voting is so powerful but changing someone’s mind is, too.

    The one other point I want to address is the idea that losing your friendship will cause your friend to reexamine her beliefs. Again, cut her off if you need to, but please don’t go in with this attitude–the opposite could also happen where she becomes more firmly entrenched in her views.

  101. Gemma says...

    This is such a wise, empathetic (and timely) post. Especially this – “You don’t have an obligation to stay in this relationship until you change your friend’s mind and transform her into a fully woke, social justice warrior — especially at the expense of your own well-being and mental health. It’s too big a burden and too futile an endeavor.” And this: “After all, friendship, like social change and revolution, is a long game.”
    Loved this. Thank you.

    • Em says...

      For real!!

  102. Lesley says...

    Thank you for this new column and if it is not too much to ask what lipstick is Christine wearing? She looks beautiful!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes! Christine says it’s Rimmel One of A Kind. xoxo

  103. Sage says...

    I lost a friend recently due to this same sort of thing, someone I thought was going to be a part of my son’s life and mine for years to come. Thank you for looking at the nuance of this situation. I think there was more I could have said or done – always more – but ultimately I was left feeling drained in every interaction.

    So looking forward to the coming weeks of this column. Welcome. :)

  104. Jenny says...

    “You don’t have an obligation to stay in this relationship until you change your friend’s mind and transform her into a fully woke, social justice warrior” – I think one of the best ways we can show those in our lives what we stand for and what’s most important to us is by stepping back. We focus too much on what we lose, and not what we gain – Think about the room you now have for new friends and relationships that can help YOU grow!

  105. This response had so much grace. I’ve faced this particular dilemma many times as my own platform and career has grown. And I’ve lost a lot of dead weight to be honest. But it’s left room in my life to really make friends who may not always get it right but are totally capable of growing and that’s a wonderful thing. The truth is I generally ask myself, does this person have the capacity to actually see the true me? Or am I diversity add on to their life? I also ask myself would I miss this person a bunch if they were gone. Like in my ideal life if I had the friends I always sought (which truthfully I have that now), would I still keep this person around or am I dragging a friendship like a rotting carcass? But the real deal breaker … which has nothing to do with race. Do I like this person enough to attend their wedding if it were in another country or state? Because that’s the real deal breaker for me (laughs). If I wouldn’t want to attend their wedding and travel to get there, that’s a friendship I’m definitely ending.

    • Sage says...

      Hahaha, I LOVE that litmus test.

    • Agnès says...

      Love your comment! (“dragging a friendship like a rotting carcass!” )

  106. Ana D says...

    I’m so excited for this new column. Thank you for choosing this letter, Christine! I’ve never seen the topic of racist friendlationship conflict between two non-Black people taken apart and contextualized at all, let alone with this matchless expression of a holistic friendship framework. THANK YOU for your work and sharing your heart and experience here with all the CupofJo readers. I’m off to pre-order your novel!

  107. Linnea says...

    No, Rachel, let this person go. She’s not worthy of your time anymore (I’m saying this as a white woman). I don’t think this person can be helped at this moment in time, unfortunately.

    Sidenote US: I’m so sorry you’re in the mess you’re in. I hope for all our sake things turn out for the better in November. An European outsider is rooting for you!

    • Lauren says...

      Personally I might consider the friend’s background. So many of my friends and I became far more left wing soon after we left our small conservative town to attend liberal colleges. I credit the change to our new environments and how they made it easier to have open minds.

      Yes, I had run into liberal thinking before, but I did what was normal where I was: dismiss them. Wouldn’t you have certain prejudices if I told you that a flat-earther friend of mine wanted to teach you something? That’s essentially the situation I was in. Bleeding heart liberals were heads-in-the-cloud loonies!

      I would consider how many different environments the friend has been privileged enough to experience. I believe that if I hadn’t been able to afford university, I would still think abortion was murder, oppose planned parenthood, and so on. And believe me, I was no less well meaning than I am now, not at all!

  108. Agnès says...

    That is such a great and brave new column! I have let so many “friends” along the road (I’m 47) because we had different views on life ; it is hard and it is liberating because that’s (I feel) how you become yourself. I find the same situation much more difficult with members of my family. It is so so hard to establish limits with our parents, especially if they’ve been loving. Can they be racist and loving towards memebers of their own family? yes. How to live with it? It is hard and honestly, I don’t have the answer. I’m really thankful for this column that I know will give us keys for better thinking. Hello from Paris every one.

    • Lauren says...

      I wonder if it would make anything clearer to imagine a hypothetical relative of yours having the same dilemma: “I love Agnes but I just don’t know what to do: she sees no problem with mothers killing their own babies. I’ve tried talking to her from all different angles but she hadn’t changed her thinking one bit! I don’t know what to do.” (I don’t have an answer of course.)

    • annelise says...

      Not the same Lauren! Respecting a woman’s right to make an enormous decision about her own body is not equivalent to respecting someone’s right to keep holding racist viewpoints. I have a feeling you don’t genuinely think that, because that was a big stretch, but if you’re genuinely wondering what to do: let “Agnes” live her damn life, and advocate for increased family welfare systems and access to reproductive planning.

    • Agnès says...

      Lauren, you must be keen on greek mythology to take such an example; it makes things clear. I still feel I have a duty to my very old father, who raised me and fed me and helped me becone an adult. But, he is a racist, that’s for sure. He knows I can’t stand that aspect of his personnality so I suppose setting these limits is already something positive…

    • Agnès says...

      Oh my gosh, was Lauren referring to abortion? That’s crazy! reading a bit more about the usa and abortion I understand where it comes from and it truly comes from ignorance (I understand why Lauren would use it as an example, it worked so well I thought she was referring to Medea).

  109. El says...

    ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • Jo says...

      I just want to chime in and thank CoJ and Christine for this post and this column. This site is a perfect example of a place where white people who might otherwise be able to skip nuanced discussion of systemic racism will now have it right in their face. Please keep employing and paying great black and POC writers to write on these topics but also on beauty, lifestyle, home etc.