“Can my children be friends with white people?”
This bizarre question is the basis of a New York Times op-ed published Sunday, and the author answers it with a “no,” albeit with some exceptions.
“History has provided little reason for people of color to trust white people in this way [of genuine friendship], and these recent months have put in the starkest relief the contempt with which the country measures the value of racial minorities,” writes Ekow N. Yankah, a law professor at Yeshiva University.
According to Yankah, examples of white “contempt” for racial minorities in recent months include concerns over the opioid epidemic, worries over rising unemployment among working-class whites, and criticism of NFL players kneeling for the anthem. Apparently those issues receive far more attention than the woes of African-Americans, thus revealing the secret disdain whites have for non-whites.
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With that conclusion assumed, Yankah declares the lesson he will teach his kids.
“As against our gauzy national hopes, I will teach my boys to have profound doubts that friendship with white people is possible,” the law professor argues. “When they ask, I will teach my sons that their beautiful hue is a fault line. Spare me platitudes of how we are all the same on the inside. I first have to keep my boys safe, and so I will teach them before the world shows them this particular brand of rending, violent, often fatal betrayal.”
Throughout the article, Yankah bases this pessimistic attitude not on personal experience — he says his childhood hometown was remarkably free of racial tension — but on Donald Trump being president and the violence in Charlottesville.
A large number of white people voting for Trump is the final push in giving up on Caucasians.
“Of course, the rise of this president has broken bonds on all sides. But for people of color the stakes are different. Imagining we can now be friends across this political line is asking us to ignore our safety and that of our children, to abandon personal regard and self-worth,” the professor asserts. “Only white people can cordon off Mr. Trump’s political meaning, ignore the “unpleasantness” from a position of safety. His election and the year that has followed have fixed the awful thought in my mind too familiar to black Americans: ‘You can’t trust these people.”
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