Why “Your First Black Friend” ?

My senior year of high school was coming to an end and the school was at it’s annual yearbook signing party. I served as the school’s student body vice president for the year so my attendance was highly encouraged. As I went through the party, signing yearbooks, laughing at pictures and calling back fond memories with friends, I went up to the student body president, Katlyn and asked her to sign my yearbook. She obliged willingly because we were friends before we started working together that year and asked me to sign her yearbook in turn. Roughly 6 minutes later I returned her yearbook. What I wrote was roughly a half page of memories ranging from student council meetings through the years to she serving as the manager for the football team for which I was captain and this up and down year for both of us personally and as a school. She took her’s back but then told me “I’m not done with yours quite yet” Which was shocking because she already had 3/4 of a page full. About 10 minutes later she returned my yearbook and I sat down with some other friends to read what she wrote. She shared a lot of the same sentiments of early meetings, crazy teachers, fond memories from classes and wishing me good luck in the future. But it is one of the last lines that she wrote that really stood out to me even after all these years “I want to thank you Kyle for being my very first black friend”

I went to high school in a small rural town in southeast Wisconsin (my graduating class was 66 students). Though it was small, I had plenty to do while there. In addition to the student council for all four years, I was a varsity football captain, varsity wrestling captain, track and field team for three years, theatre for all four years, forensics (competitive speaking) for all four years, concert choir for three years, and peer leadership team for two years. In short: people saw a lot of me in different capacities. Throw in the fact that for two and a half years, I was the only black student in the school (my younger brother joined me my junior year). The task of being labeled “the only” of anything is difficult enough, but as a 14-year-old starting at a new school I felt as if all eyes were on me. It became apparent just 3 months into my freshman year of how daunting this task would be, much more on that later.

The main reason why I wanted to start this blog was to provide insight and a unique perspective of identity, acceptance and evolution of self. I’m more that confident that there’s somebody in the world who has similar experiences to mine. I’m more than confident that there’s somebody in the world who wants to know about what it’s like to experience this life I have lead. I’m more than confident that maybe what I write will help somebody else who is trying to figure out their way in this world. Each of us in this world has a story, a vantage point, an experience that has shaped us into who we are today. I hope that my experiences help you in some small way.

This is the human experience, told through the eyes of your first black friend.

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