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. I am expected to provide instant answers, which isn’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.
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.
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Reactions to I Am That One Black Friend: Lessons from a Magical Unicorn:
"Porter skillfully shares poignant life lessons learned while navigating the uncertain waters of Being Black in America. Her journey takes us from her girlhood spent in Ohio and Texas, her coming of age as an undergraduate student at Tennessee State University and a law student at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, and stops in between as a daughter, wife, mother, employee and entrepreneur. She carefully unwraps each experience for the reader and presents a straightforward rendition from her personal vantage point. As a result, she leaves the reader with an emotional, unapologetic view of the complexities of race, class, equity, and inclusiveness in America, and how these issues impact our life’s journey regardless of where we stand on the color line. Her work is a successful step to naming the issues through lessons while challenging the reader to take the next steps to claiming the lessons and seeking resolution." -
Alfreda D. Singleton-Smith
"Though we may not have had the same exact experiences, there were a lot of "uh huh" or "exactly" moments. I enjoyed the insight into the author's experiences and that she kept some humor in the telling. The "lessons" are absolutely universal in the Black experience. And the showing up and cheering louder than anyone for our babies, so they know they're seen...it's what keeps me at the front of the auditorium for every show choir performance, while the other moms are farther towards the back, so they can see the full stage better. " -Angel Wilson