Eight years later Coleman is experiencing different emotions: betrayal and shock. She’s lost white friends over disagreements about Obama, as well as the issue of police brutality. Even her parents, who used to share dinner and exchange presents with two of their longtime white neighbors, ended those friendships because they felt their neighbors disrespected Obama.
“People I never thought of as racist, people who borrowed money from me — I’ve seen things come out of them that I never thought of,” says Coleman, who works for a nonprofit in Oklahoma that serves the elderly.
Some black people unfriended white America during Obama’s presidency. They would hear a stray remark from a white coworker, argue over something that Obama was facing, and suddenly a close relationship would turn chilly.
Fenise Dunson was a career adviser at an Illinois college in 2008 when some of her white coworkers started warning her about Obama’s first presidential run. “We won’t let this happen,” they said. Or, after he was elected: “He might be president, but you’re not in control.”
“You don’t know where this is coming from,” says Dunson, who now teaches at a college in Maryland. She wondered whether “people had been politically correct and they had really been feeling this way for a long time and now they feel like they can be vocal about how they feel?
“It’s unsettling. You wonder who you can trust.”