In How to Be Black, Baratunde Thurston includes a chapter called “How to Be the Black Friend,” in which he states (emphasis mine):
I think Thurston is on to something here. I think more white people need black friends. Yes, I do.
Because there’s a lot of confusion out there, and it seems we are having a helluva time understanding each other. And we need to understand each other, because none of us is going anywhere. Am I wrong?
So, today, I’m starting a new series on this blog, and I’m calling it (well, presumably you've already read the title, but in the interest of thoroughness I’ll repeat it) “Good to Know: Insights from Your Black Friend.”
Every so often, as events warrant and the mood strikes, I’ll be posting an insight.
And today’s insight is --
When you’re with your Black Friend, and he or she makes a comment about racism, do not, repeat DO NOT, respond by saying something like:
“It's not just black people who are affected. I think if people of every race showed more love, the world would be a better place.”
“Well, sexism is just as bad.”
“They just hired that black guy in _______. I think that’s a step in the right direction."
Because, if your Black Friend is like me, these statements are bound to infuriate.
Statements such as these, although perhaps well meaning, tend to MINIMIZE and DISMISS the concerns of your Black Friend, who is sharing with you a very palpable reality that has a very real impact on his or her life.
So be a friend, okay? And just LISTEN. Or maybe even ask a question, like “Why do you feel that way?”
Because even if talking about racism makes you feel uncomfortable, rest assured that being the object of racism is a lot more uncomfortable for your friend.
That’s it for now from Your Black Friend.