Have you ever had a situation where certain a white person does something of racist nature and they are quick to defend their actions with the old saying ” I have a black friend” as if that is a total absolution or immunity to racism?
The most common term used these days is the idea of reverse racism, where whites now express their ‘dismay’ of blacks been racists toward them. I can see why the line between racism and ignorance is blurred and often times intricately intertwined as a lot of people still cannot tell the difference.
Blurting out racial slurs and other epithets are nothing but ignorance which sometimes don’t come from a place of hate toward the other race.
Racism is a little deeper and more complex as it often times comes from the place of systematic power and very rarely an ignorant issue.
So for example all relevant t.v. stations and major media outlets are literally owned by whites, at any time they can choose who does what, when, where and how. They can use this leverage for nepotism instead of meritocracy and often times they do just that, on the other hand blacks don’t have nothing, or as some would say we don’t own much.
Hence there’s no way blacks can be racists towards whites because they don’t have much resources, whites on the other hand have a system that have handed down privileges from the days of slavery which they directly or indirectly enjoy the fruits of their ancestors. Common indirect privilege in rampant in our today’s society e.g. whites are way more likely to be hired for significant roles and positions than blacks or Asians.
So what makes the defence of ‘I have a black friend’ so popular as an attempt to absolve any racist related action from Caucasians?
Daniel Effron from London Business School gave us the most suitable answer in his 2014 survey. He found that threats to moral identity increase the degree to which people believe past actions have proven their morality. In simple terms it means the threat of appearing racist estimate to a degree that making friends with black, Asian or Latino is indicative of their belief of non-discriminatory attitude.