Friday, March 1, 2019

A guide for using "I have black friends" as proof that you're not racist.

The amazing theater that was Wednesday's Michael Cohen hearing hit a few rough spots, courtesy of congressman Mark Meadows continued attempts to prove that neither he or the president are racists. Meadows first mistake was bringing out a black woman who works for the Trump administration to prove that Trump isn't racist. 




And like a lot of people who do a racism and want to defend themselves rather than just apologize for their misstep, Meadows refuted the claim that the black employee was just a "prop" by telling the court that he has black nieces and nephews. I laughed out loud. 

The only time one should use the "But I have black friend, family, etc." defense when they're accused of being racist is if their goal is to illicit laughter.

Why?

It seems, on the surface, to be a somewhat reasonable defense. Would a racist be friends with a black person? Would a racist hire a black person? Would a racist be nice to a black person?

The answer to all three questions is "yes".

You can absolutely befriend and like a person of color and still think their race is "less than" your own. You can employ black people and believe that they're competent at their jobs, but still beneath you. It is not uncommon for racists to have exceptions for people of color who they know personally. It's a "well, you're ok, but the rest of the black people are <insert a racism>. Black people know this, and I've learned this from them. Twenty years ago, I probably would have pulled the same defense. 

The problem is, if you can't pull out your token black friends, family, and employees to refute the dreaded "you're racist" accusation, how do you respond?

Acknowledge that you did a racism.

Apologize for doing a racism.

Ask questions to understand why what you did or said was racist.

Worry more about the person's whose feelings you've hurt than your own pride.

Learn more about racism.

Stop doing racisms.




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