I AM THAT ONE BLACK FRIEND
Lessons from a Magical Unicorn
In June 2020, when the world saw the unrest in America because of centuries of systemic racism, my phone/inbox/email account started to blow up. In the midst of the questions from my white friends asking, “What should I do?”, “What should I read?”, “What can I do to make myself feel better about systemic oppression?", I began to evaluate why I was the object of these requests. I realized that I am the “magical unicorn”, that I am that one black friend they feel comfortable asking these things. I even began to wonder whether those asking me these questions, knew the experiences that caused me to be able to respond without offending, with compassion, and with specific examples. I kept directing people to the trainings offered by my company and while some attended, most didn’t. They wanted something quick and easily digestible. I was expected to provide instant answers, which wasn’t fair, given that it is the lived experiences that allow me to get to a place where I can give any response, instant or not. True understanding of the issues/situations that black people face isn't something that can be gained from a fast answer to a single question. It requires understanding of context.
I was compelled to write my story, which is an affirmation to some and an education to others. This account of lifelong learning produces lessons that are chronicled as you walk through my story. My ability to respond to questions that just happened to occur to you, is a result of my lived experiences over the past 46 years. My ability to smile as you comment with surprise about my responses, “Oh wow, you answered that so well,” or “You were so kind in your response,” is a fine-tuned skill – that of a magical unicorn. It takes skill to explain oppression, that was in fact perpetrated by you (as in a collective “you”) without causing you (as an individual) to feel bad about said oppression. I hope the lessons I share will help move the racial equity conversation in a positive direction, because, I am that one black friend, sharing lessons from a magical unicorn.
Meet Author Cassandra A. Porter
Racial Equity Professional, Mom, Daughter, Wife, That One Black Friend
Cassandra A. Porter lives in a multi-generational home in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband of 18 years, Jeffery Porter, their two daughters and her Mom. Cassandra is active in her church, sorority & the alumni association of her beloved alma mater, Tennessee State University. She is an ever-present Mom at all of her daughters’ activities including choir, track, and soccer.
After almost 20 years in Public Service Cassandra gave birth to Favorite Part of My Day, an organization that focuses on diversity training and consultation, cultural competence work and racial equity trainings. As a racial equity practitioner Cassandra has a passion for educating and providing language to complex systemic issues, bringing a sense of humor and a personal connection to many difficult topics.