Hey white people, you really need to step your game up and get some more black friends. And by friends, I mean someone who cares enough about you to call you on your shit and vice versa. The black person that you see at the gym sometimes or in a Starbucks line doesn’t count. Y’all ain’t friends, that’s an acquaintance — barely.
In the shadow of Michael Brown’s funeral on Monday, the Washington Post dug into the Public Religion Research Institute’s statistics around interracial friendships and found some not so shocking information.
In a 100-friend scenario, the average white person has 91 white friends; one each of black, Latino, Asian, mixed race, and other races; and three friends of unknown race. The average black person, on the other hand, has 83 black friends, eight white friends, two Latino friends, zero Asian friends, three mixed race friends, one other race friend, and four friends of unknown race. …
To put it another way: Blacks have ten times as many black friends as white friends. But white Americans have an astonishing 91 times as many white friends as black friends.
There are more white people than blacks in America so this isn’t such a far-fetched finding but our ethnic makeup is changing. The Post’s Christopher Ingraham writes that people like to section themselves into groups of those who are similar across religious, political, economical and racial lines. This “sorting” plays into political separation and income inequality.
It is also the reason why many black people feel the police in Ferguson, MO have been heavy handed while some whites, like this guy who spoke to the New York Times, are saying things like this:
"They always want to stir up to trouble, the blacks," said David Goad, 64, a retired movie projector operator who lives in a neighborhood bordering Ferguson. "I grew up around blacks, so I know how they are," he said. "That's why we had to get out in 1962, because it was getting so bad."
Don't be like David.
Get out there and make new friends, and not just the sexual kind. I mean that on both sides. Nia Long being teased for her white boyfriend in The Best Man Holiday isn’t just a plot point, it’s real. Make platonic friends too, ones you won't ever sleep with and never speak to again until you see them awkwardly at a bar while on another date.
People like people who look like them but the only way to break out of misunderstanding one another is the spend time outside of our collective comfort zones. Then, with real friends of different races, maybe everyone will understand why Chris Hayes said “Stay Woke," the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, Israel vs. Palestine or why Darren Wilson remaining in hiding two weeks after fatally shooting Michael Brown is absolutely unconscionable.
Image via Bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock.