On Issuing Pink Slips to Friends
One of my interesting childhood memories was this routine occurrence in elementary school. I was popular for reasons I never understood. Every morning while eating breakfast in the school cafeteria, certain kids would yell out, "I'm sitting by Lex at lunch!" And everyday, before we lined up in the hallway, I knew exactly who was going to sit next to me - who would be on my right side, who would be on my left and who would sit in front of me. It was weird, but I never questioned it. There was this one girl, however, who always asked, “why y’all fighting to sit next to her?”
I made her my best friend.
That became a very bad pattern of mine – dismissing my cheerleaders, and cozying up to folks who affirmed what I felt deep down about myself – “Lex, you ain’t shit.”
As I’ve gotten older and been able to spot that pattern in my life, I now swiftly handle anyone who is not #TeamLex - graciously, but swiftly. A few years ago, I was featured in an event for black storytellers. It was the inaugural gathering for this quarterly live event series. I was the first one on the mic that night. The audience laughed, cheered and celebrated my story all the way through. But there was a white woman in the audience who, the following week, told one of my colleagues that the show was just "alright", that none of the stories were "that strong." The only reason my colleague gave me this information was because I made the “old Lex” mistake of dismissing the cheerleaders in the audience and making room for the one critic who said, “Lex ain’t shit.“