No good deed goes unpunished.
You heard me saying “oops” as my pencil fell, and you then took a break from writing your notes to help me pick it up. I said “thank you” with a smile; you smiled back and said “no problem.” When I was absent from class because I was sick, you let me look at your notes so I could catch up. You have even held the door open for me when we both walked out of the building together. I really appreciate the times you have helped me out when I needed it.
We are friends on Facebook. I have seen all your statuses about “building the wall.” You share #AllLivesMatter posts. You start off your comments with “I am not racist, but…” Every once in a while, you pick Facebook fights with other students about how undocumented immigrants “should just become legal,” black men “should have listened to the police officer’s orders,” and about how “we cannot tell which refugees are terrorists.” Every day I walk into history class, I sit behind you and pretend that I have never read them, as if reading all those words do not crush me a little each time. I, like every other minority student at predominantly white institutions, decided to stop wasting time educating people who will not listen. Unfortunately, you are not the only person who says things like this ― in this campus, or even this history class alone.
This open letter goes out to every racist person who has ever picked up my dropped pencil; said “bless you” after I sneezed; stopped to ask me how my Christmas break was, has written “happy birthday” on my Facebook wall, has said “good morning” to me as we walk past each other on campus, or has asked me where I got my “cute shirt” from. No smile, compliment, or favor will erase the fact that I know you do not actually want my family and me in this country.
“Are you going to let politics ruin a friendship?” First of all, yes. Second of all, this is not about politics; it is about my existence as a person of color in this country. Third of all, yes.