May 23, 2021

Kathleen L.

Anti-racism commitment coalition logo.

Kathleen L.

Greenfield Twp, PA, USA

Why I joined ARCC?

My best friend, Vanessa, tells the story of how we met on the first day of 6th grade like the start of a flowery drama. She remembers what I was wearing, I remember the conversation that day almost perfectly. So basically from that day on we were best friends. From age 11 until now (31 and 32.)

Two decades as the closest of friends let’s you see a LOT of things about each other’s lives. She saw my broken home, my nerdy BS, and my determination to escape our podunk town (a dream we both shared.) On the other hand, I watched my amazing friend be unfairly maligned, blamed, harassed… you name it. Why? She was one of only 3 black kids in our whole grade.

For years I have seen, heard, been “implicated” in her supposed transgressions… I don’t think I could have handled any of it with the class and grace Vanessa managed. But it was a constant grind on her psyche, and I knew it was damaging to her in myriad ways, even if it seemed to be an assault of a thousand small cuts.

After undergrad, she left the USA and did her Masters Degree in the UK, where her family lived prior to the US. This year she let her green card lapse because she couldn’t even justify the hassle given the hostile society she always dealt with. I miss her such, but I also overjoyed that she has found a modicum of peace. She is currently opening her own small business in London!

I wish most white Americans could see even 10% of the shenanigans I witnessed just due to having a black best friend throughout my adolescent years. Perhaps it would help the more ignorant among us wake up to the daily realities of black Americans (and residents.)

America’s racist society caused the permanant loss of my best friend in the world. If a formerly colonialist country that still has a codified, actual CASTE SYSTEM in society and people of color still feel safer there, that should put up red flags for the health and wellbeing of US life and society.