Many white people feel that white people are stereotyped as racists and are victims of racial prejudice. Consequently, many whites assume that non-white people will be racially prejudiced against whites on the basis of their skin colour, assuming that they are racist because they are white.
Of course, most people of colour who were raised in white-majority societies are aware of this, and some of us make extraordinary efforts to make white friends and parade them around to make ourselves appear “not racist”, or at least not racially prejudiced against ‘whitey’. What makes the stereotype that non-whites are racially prejudiced against whites so resilient is that it fits nicely into the stereotype that non-white people always stick together and self-segregate.
If I am Chinese and I have a Korean friend, whites may still perceive me as an Asian who refuses to integrate with the rest of society. If I am Chinese and I have a black friend, but no white friend, whites may perceive me as an angry person of colour by association with black people. If I have a white friend, however, whites would think that my white friend is very tolerant to have a friend of colour. Additionally, whites would not be able to accuse me of not integrating and of being racially threatening.
The pressure to fit in with society is very strong, but we should not make excuses for our white friends’ and white acquaintances’ racist behaviour to keep up our appearances. This is not as easy as it sounds, as we often weigh the pros and cons of pointing out racism and the risk of confirming another racial stereotype, the stereotype of the angry or militant minority. What makes it even more difficult is that some of us second-guess ourselves and wonder if we really are racist against whites. Some of us conjure up in our minds our white friends to convince ourselves that we are not racially prejudiced, and that we are not entrenched in some kind of alleged racial subjectivity that is specific to people of colour.
If you admit to yourself that your white friend did something racist, it does not imply that you are a militant minority. If she is your only white friend, admitting that she did something racist does not imply that you hate all white people. Having a white friend is not a litmus test for sanity. Focus on the action, not the person, and not your self image.
Many white people worry that people of colour may stereotype white people as having stereotypes about people of colour. Many people of colour worry that whites may stereotype people of colour as having stereotypes about whites stereotyping people of colour. We worry about being stereotyped, because we are.