OPINION: Writer Michael Harriot, who suggested #IHadAWhiteFriend become a trending topic, courageously tracks down the “Black friend” described in Rhode Island State Rep. Patricia Morgan’s now viral tweet.
On Tuesday, a Rhode Island state representative caused a stir when her tweet about an unsolved mystery escaped the confines of WhiteTears Twitter and went viral.
In January, Rep. Patricia Morgan co-sponsored a bill banning the teaching of “divisive concepts,” including subjects that perpetuate “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of their race or sex.” Although Morgan ultimately failed to make whitewashing the official pastime of Rhode Island, the White History advocate managed to find solace and comfort in the bosom of an African American acquaintance with whom she had built a lasting friendship. Then, the unthinkable happened:
Cappin’ Morgan’s Black friend suddenly went crazy.
Unprompted, and apparently dismayed about the inexplicable attitude of her African American acquaintance, Tricia the History Dismisser turned to the internet to see if the fearless social media sleuths of Twitter could help her solve the Mystery of the Angry Negro.
“I had a black friend,” Morgan wrote, Caucasianally. “I liked her and I think she liked me, too. But now she is hostile and unpleasant. I am sure I didn’t do anything to her, except be white. Is that what teachers and our political leaders really want for our society? Divide us because of our skin color?
While the hashtag #IHadAWhiteFriend started trending soon after one unsympathetic tweeter callously suggested it, no one bothered to delve into the mystery of why Morgan’s Black bestie suddenly became the prototypical angry Black woman. How could someone be so hostile to a so-called friend who literally wanted to criminalize her BFF’s entire history? Was she cool with an entire state erasing her past before “teachers and political leaders” convinced her to be angry at No-Past Patty? And what did Critical Race Theory have to do with this?
With nothing but the clues embedded in Morgan’s cryptic tweet and the internet, we managed to track down Patricia Morgan’s ex-Black friend for a phone interview.
theGrio: Thanks for meeting with us! Can we get your full name?
A. Black-Friend: Yes, it’s Ayanna Black-Friend but you can call me A.
theGrio: Like the letter?
ABF: No, it’s the interjection used in African American Vernacular English, such as: “Aye, what’s your name again?” Or when the DJ plays Frankie Beverly and Maze, and everyone shouts “aye!”
My maiden name was “A. Black” before I married my husband Dewayne Friend. We’re pretty progressive, so we took each other’s last name. Now he’s Dee Black Friend and I’m Aye Black Friend.
theGrio: Well, I’m sure you know why we’re here.
ABF: Actually, I don’t.
I thought you were the student loan people, but then I remembered when everyone was screaming my nickname after Biden extended the hiatus on student loan repayments. So, I assumed you wanted to talk to me about my car’s extended warranty. So how much do you charge for an 03 Honda with a bad alternator?
theGrio: Actually we’re here to talk about your former friend, Patricia Morgan.
theGrio: State Representative Patricia Morgan. She’s from your hometown and says you two were friends.
ABF: I have no idea who that is. I don’t even mess with the feds like that. But if she’s white, then yes, I’m pretty sure I was her BFF.
theGrio: Wait … You just said you didn’t know her. How can you be Best Friends Forever if you have no idea who she is?
ABF: Because I live in Rhode Island! Here, “BFF” means “Black Female Friend.” I live in a state congressional district that’s 1.6 percent African American. So if this Patricia lady said an African American woman is her buddy, it’s either me or Tasha … And Tasha don’t mess with white people like that.
So what did this Morgan woman say about me?
theGrio: Here. I’ll just let you read it for yourself.
ABF (reading tweet): Oh, yeah, I know that lady! I didn’t recognize her name because me and Tasha call her “Critical Race Karen!” She’s not lying about our relationship, though. I stopped talking to her after I realized she was crazy.
I’m kinda of scared of her.
Rhode Island State Rep. Patricia Morgan. (Photo: State of Rhode Island Assembly)
theGrio: Why are you afraid of her?
ABF: Because she’s always ranting about Critical Race Theory, which is absolutely insane!
theGrio: Why is that so insane?
ABF: Because we live in Rhode Island! If there is any place in America that should embrace Critical Race Theory, it’s Rhode Island!
If Peppermyth Patty knew anything about history, she’d know that Rhode Island passed the first abolition law in the thirteen colonies (even though they never enforced it). She’d also know that the 1st Rhode Island Regiment was not only the first Black battalion in America’s military history, but they also forced the state legislature to free them and all the other slaves! The Free African Union Society, the country’s first African benevolent organization, was founded in Rhode Island to build schools and churches for African Americans.
Why wouldn’t ol’ CRTrisha want kids to know that?
theGrio: So is it true that teachers and elected officials made you act hostile toward Rep. Morgan?
ABF: She’s kinda right about that, too. I get kinda hostile when I think about Rhode Island’s whitewashed curriculum. History teachers tell students that Rhode Island was the first state to emancipate their slaves but don’t teach that, at one time, Rhode Island controlled a majority of the slave trade. Educators brag about Brown University being one of the most prestigious and oldest universities in America but never mention how the school was built off the human trafficking of Black people. And yes, Rhode Island’s political leaders were the first to constitutionally guarantee Black people the right to vote, but those same leaders also created “warning out”–an ethnic cleansing campaign that paid whites to eject free Blacks out of the state. That’s why there aren’t any Black people in Rhode Island!
So yes, teachers and elected officials turned me against whitewashing history for the sake of making white people feel good. Rhode Island’s history is a lot like America’s history — you can’t teach all the good stuff and not the bad.
theGrio: But do you blame Patricia Morgan because she’s white?
ABF: No, I blame Patricia Morgan because she wants to criminalize the truth and inflict more racism.
When white people don’t know their own history, it’s easy for them to think that me and Tasha’s children don’t have as much as the descendants of slave traders and ethnic cleansers because we’re lazy, violent or don’t value education. But what’s lazier than not wanting to learn about stuff that actually happened? What’s more violent than disappearing an entire people’s culture and history? Who values education less than someone who wants to make it illegal to know things?
To be fair, when Tasha and I call her the “crazy white lady,” we’re talking about the crazy part, not the white part.
theGrio: So, you were never hostile and unpleasant to her?
ABF: Actually, I was. But that’s because I was in a bad mood because my alternator went out. That’s totally my fault.
theGrio: Well, I’m glad we could clear this up. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
ABF: I’d like to say that Tasha, Dee Black-Friend and Aye Black Friend fully support all efforts to stop people in Rhode Island from feeling “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of their race or sex.”
Booting Patricia Morgan out of office would be a great start.
I wonder if she’ll tweet about that?
Michael Harriot is a writer, cultural critic and championship-level Spades player. His book, Black AF History: The Unwhitewashed Story of America, will be released in 2022.
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