Hi, I’m Nicole. I’m a white girl. SURPRISE! To be honest I didn’t want to write an “About Page” because I feared a couple of things:
#1 People might think I have no business telling their story.
#2 People might think I’m a fake.
#3 I did NOT want to receive any sort of praise or kudos at the expense of someone else’s suffering.
#4 I did NOT want praise, period. This is not about me, and
#5 I was afraid people would think it was.
But, after talking with my friends they encouraged me to write this anyway, because:
#1 As a white woman I have a loud voice in my community.
#2 I want people to know they have an ally in me.
#3 And most importantly, by hiding behind my website staying silent I let those fears above win, and
#4 Those fears are manifestations of racial bias that affect us all, however subtly they present themselves. I can’t let them win.
So here goes:
Like most kids in the late 80’s I spent practically all of my summer days outside, totally wild. Most likely you could find me running barefoot through the grass allies of our lower-income neighborhood of Garland, Texas with my crew. Most of my friends were people of color, but one friendship in particular stands out. Across the street lived a black girl a little older than me named Trameka. She used to babysit me and my sisters while my parents worked late nights. I remember she’d braid my hair while we watched Alf and talked about the new 90’s fashions. I distinctly remember she really wanted circular glasses “like John Lennon”, and I acted like I knew who that was because I didn’t want her to think I wasn’t cool, because to me she was the coolest girl I knew. Over the years we grew up and grew apart, but then in 1998 I started high school at Garland High and suddenly, there was Trameka! She was a Senior when I was a Freshman and she was entirely too cool to hang out with me. Being the annoying little snot I was, I watched her from afar anyway. I saw how she was treated at lunch, in the halls, in classrooms. She was called names and bullied by people I didn’t know, but who were much bigger than me. I wanted to defend my friend, but I was 90 pounds soaking wet and was not equipped to address the racism as I was witnessing it. I didn’t even know what I was witnessing had a name. But Trameka was cool. Always cool. She’d laugh it off, shoot zingers back, and all in all, I thought she was fine. It took me 20 years to understand that she probably wasn’t. Trameka graduated that next spring and while I never saw her again, she left an impression on me.
I’ve been thinking about my childhood friends a lot recently. I’ve been thinking about Trameka a lot, LOT recently. Where is she now? Is she happy? Did she ever get those circular glasses like John Lennon? How is she managing life right now? Every time I’d see another heartbreaking petition come out I’d sign it thinking of her and my friends, but it was always passive. I was not active. I was not using my voice or my privilege to help anyone I love, and it wasn’t intentional…I was just ignorant. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I for sure didn’t know where to start!
My black friends today have such gracious warm hearts. They’ve let me ask the awkward questions, they’ve been patient with me when I didn’t know any better, and they’ve guided me towards resources that allowed me to learn about the Black Community, the injustices the history books don’t tell, and what I can do to make a true and lasting difference. They didn’t have to do that, but I am forever grateful they did.
Talking about race and looking for reliable resources shouldn’t be this difficult, but it is. I won’t sugar-coat it. It’s upsetting for everyone. Out of respect, 1/2 of us don’t know who or how to ask for guidance, and 1/2 of us are told not to ask and to do our own research. Let’s be real, most of us are too busy to do that, so the good intentions fall by the wayside and the injustice continues.
So, with the help of my friends, I built this website in 7 days hoping it would help others, hoping it would benefit all the Tramekas in the world, and hoping it would educate all the little snots who look up to her.