I'm black. I became friends with a white supremacist.

Daniel and I hung out more and more in the following months. I’d meet him at the movies. We’d eat at Krystal’s restaurant, in my opinion a very inferior version of White Castle. Daniel didn’t live in Gainesville, but he never told me where he did live. He always wore shirts that covered his racist tattoos. I tried, almost pleading, to change his mind about my people. But something in the news would always sway his opinion toward hate again.

“Look at this n*****,” he said once, pointing to an article in the local paper about a Black guy who had murdered a couple of people during a robbery. I flinched at the word. But I smiled, because I tricked myself into believing he wasn’t talking about me. Just people like me. After a while, the word no longer fazed me. Not when he said it, at least.

Then, one day he just stopped coming around. I called his phone after a week of not seeing him. It was switched off. Patiently, I waited. Day after day, he didn’t show. I assumed he had died. It made me sad.

But another part of me felt relief. Relief that I no longer had to pretend I didn’t identify with other Black people; the Black people he saw as “bad.” Relief because, my parents once marched against the injustices and violence he would have incited. He’d only been a friend in the loosest sense, but when you hate yourself so much, when you crave acceptance more than you crave respect, you’ll make a friend wherever you can.