I was going to do a post on the Confederate flag. I even wrote up most of it. Ultimately, I decided that maybe it would be better to let the smoke clear a little bit.
Instead, I'm going to talk about something I hear white people say when the subject comes to race, "I have a lot of black friends." First, how many is a lot? Is it two or three? Four or five? Four or five is starting to get there, but if it's a relatively small number, it's not a lot.
Having a certain number of friends of a certain race has nothing to do with racism, but let's not worry about that right now. I do have some good friends who are black, but I wouldn't say lots. Then again, I don't really think I have lots of friends, period.
Maybe, my definition of friendship is different than other people's. What follows are a number of yes/no questions related to friendship. For me, it helps define whether a person is really a friend or just an acquaintance:
- Have you met some of this person's family (spouse, children, parents, pets)?
- Do know the names of some of this person's family (spouse, children, parents, pets)?
- Have you ever been to this person's house?
- Have they ever been to yours?
- Do you have this person's home or personal cell phone number for non-work related reasons?
- Do they have yours?
- Have you ever had a drink or a meal together? If this is someone from work, is this a small group or was everyone invited? If it's a work thing where everyone was invited, that probably doesn't count.
- Have you ever done something fun together, like go to the movies, a baseball game, or bowling? Again, if it was a work thing where everyone went, that probably doesn't count.
- If this is someone from work, have you ever seen them outside of work or a work-related function.
- If at a social gathering where there are a lot of people, is this someone you go out of your way to talk to?
How did you do? If you answered no to most of these, then maybe they aren't really friends but more acquaintances. Don't worry about it. If you asked black people the same questions about their white friends, their answers probably wouldn't be that much different than yours. But think about it, if one of your black friends at work is someone that you've known for ten years. And they've been married that whole time, and you don't know their spouse's name, maybe you don't know them as well as you think you do.
Even so, late's say you have 50 black friends by the criteria above. That is a lot in pretty much anyone's book. But if your attitude is, those 50 are the good ones and the rest are shiftless and ignorant, that's still pretty racist.
Here's what it comes down to, my crackas. Yes, I'm white. I can say that. It's our word. You really don't need to prove you're not a racist, but if you feel you have to, you don't do that by making a list of all the black people you know and seeing how many you can move to the friends column. You prove that you're not a racist, by how you treat people, how you talk about them, and yes, even how you think. If every time you see a black person walk by, you think the N-word, that's racist whether you say anything or not.
And for God's sake, if you feel like you need to say, I have a lot black friends, don't follow it up with a but and something racist:
I have a lot of black friends, but those protesters are all a bunch of thugs.
That's being a dick. Just stop.