Tim Wise is my white blog-friend.

In Reading Comprehension 101: Text, Subtext and the Politics of Misinterpretation, Tim Wise writes (emphasis mine):

In other words, putting aside the inherent absurdity of this interpretation — I am white after all, as are my kids, as is my wife, as is my momma, all my immediate family and my best friend too — some who read the piece believe against all logic and in the face of plain English (however aggressive the piece may be), that I have announced, excitedly, the coming of a glorious race war and the end of white people.

Normally, when a white person asserts that she is “not racist” because she has a black friend or he has an Asian wife, it is considered an invalid argument, because knowing a person of colour does not grant immunity from being racist. Here, Tim Wise argues that he is not anti-white, because he is white, his wife is white, his best friend is white, etc.

I would normally consider this bad form, since making this argument may give some people the impression that the tired “black friend” defense is acceptable. However, some readers of my blog have constantly accused me of being “racist against white people”, so I will try to follow Tim Wise’s lead and invoke whiteness as a defense against accusations of being anti-white.

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You don’t need a white friend to show you’re not racist.

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.

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