Until I was fourteen years old, I had one black friend. And she lived across the country. So, really, I had none.
Growing up in predominantly white suburbs, I spent most of my days as the only black child in my class—the only black Brownie in my Girl Scouts troop; the only black girl on my softball teams; and, the one with “poufy” hair at slumber parties. Before it was cool, I wore Vans and rotated 311 with Kris Kross. I spent my high school years fitted in (Abercrombie and) Fitch, far away from the “black table,” nestled in as the token.
Yet, not once have I ever been ashamed of my blackness or forgotten the history of my forefathers. One would think prolonged exposure to everything except majority black surroundings would dilute my sense of self, but it did quite the opposite. You see, the real world doesn’t look like an HBCU campus. America’s board rooms aren’t black. So, there is actually much to be gained from being “the black friend”: