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Friday, November 5, 2010

An open letter to racists, some of whose best friends are black

Republican state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver is facing criticism after posting a picture on the Internet that some are calling racially offensive.
Weaver said that a picture that she took with her pastor in blackface dressed as Aunt Jemima was just Halloween fun and doesn’t understand why the photo is offensive.

Representative Weaver says that this is all in fun, and "feels some Democrats are making something out of nothing." She is not a racist, she says, pointing out that "some of [her] greatest friends are black."

Oh, I see - some of her best friends are black. You know, I begin to wonder who all these people are whose tight relationships with people of color have not shown them that denigrating people of color (or laughing when someone else does, or thoughtlessly employing symbols of denigration) is not appropriate. Seems a bit strange, no? But, I'm all about solutions here at in medias res, so here's a handy form letter I've whipped up for black folks to send to their friends who are not black. Please feel free to modify with the ethnicity and common types of "funny" denigration most appropriate for you:

Dear non-black friend,

As your friend, I want to be sure there are no misunderstandings on this matter. Please know that your friendship with me will not excuse racism on your part. Our friendship will not make it ok for you to wear blackface, or to respond nonchalantly if someone else does. As a friend, I am telling you in advance that this is offensive, that people will justifiably be offended by it, that your feigned surprise will not make it less offensive, and that your assertion that it was "all in fun" will not make it funny.

And, for the record, pointing out that "some of your best friends are black" will simply make it worse, because what sort of person would do something that is so obviously denigrating of their best friends?

Yours in friendship,
Black Friend

I hope you find this a useful tool. And, remember: blackface is not cute.

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