For some reason, many people are under the impression that you can’t possibly be racist and have black friends (or other friends of color). “I’m not racist; I have black friends” is a statement that usually comes about when race is being discussed, often when a white person says something problematic and they are called out for it. Then they quickly consider the racial makeup of their friends and think that since black people are in the mix, they can’t possibly be racist. Well, contrary to popular belief, being racist and befriending black people are not mutually exclusive. Here, I’ll show you how to do it!
Step 1: Acquire a black friend.
This is the most important part, obviously. It is not often you make black friends considering that the majority of your friends are not people of color. Being friends with a black person is not a conscious decision since you claim colorblindness when it comes to race. The fact that this individual who is now your friend is darkly pigmented with other Afrocentric features that indicate that they are black just goes right over your head.
Step 2: Think about how your black friend is not like “those black people” and be delighted about that. If you want, you can occasionally compliment your black friend by telling them that very thing!
Because “those black people” (a.k.a. nearly every black person) are just about every negative stereotype out there and your black friend is not and that is just fantastic.
Step 3: Be amazed by how “articulate” and intelligent they are since a black person being both of those things takes you by surprise.
Use the word “articulate” to describe black people who speak English according to the grammar rules taught in schools. Make sure you don’t compliment your white friends that way though.
Step 4: Put your black friend on a pedestal and mention that other black people should follow after your black friend’s example.
Never mind the idea that your friend could be an inspiration to humans of ALL races and ethnicities. Since your black friend has accomplished some really notable things that deserve recognition, wonder why other black people are not following his or her example. Of course, you are all-seeing and all-knowing of the black excellence that goes on in the countless amounts of black communities throughout The States and abroad (despite the fact that you are not even deeply involved with any of them) so we know we can trust your perceived lack of accomplishments in black communities. If you can’t see it, it’s not happening, right?
Step 5: Completely ignore how you claiming to “not see race” and how “you don’t even see your friend as black” contradicts points #2 through #4.
Basically, being racist and befriending black people requires that you view black people as inherently violent, lazy, stupid, and illiterate and view your black friend as the surprising exception to those qualities. Your black friend has got the stamp of white approval! Yay friendship! Yay racism!
* * *
On a more serious note…everything that is on this list has been said to me by white people who have befriended me. What sustained those friendships and made some of them so strong is the fact they fed me the idea that I was a “good black person” and I ate it all up, ultimately internalizing my racism. I thought that their remarks were compliments when, in reality, they were seeped with racism. I also made sure to tailor race conversations to make white people comfortable. Then I woke up. And I don’t intend on falling asleep on the real racism that continues to plague the U.S. nor do I have the time or patience to coddle white people’s feelings and comfort while talking about racism. And I will most definitely call out racist behavior when I see it.
Black people are not magical beings whose presence as friends or lovers in your lives erases you of all your racist ideologies. In fact, the racist who shot and killed the pastor and the members of the African Methodist Episcopal church in South Carolina earlier this year had black friends, one of them who denies the shooter was racist. Think about that next time you consider using your black friends as evidence that you are not being racist when you very well could be.