I’m sure you’ve seen this Alternet article that has been making the rounds, “Why I Find it Hard to be Friends with White People” by Brittany Cooper. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you go do so now. I can feel this woman’s pain, discovering that the people with whom you were once friends have turned out to be completely different at a later date. We’ve all been there at some point.
But I disagree with her categorizing this issue as a racial problem instead of a political problem. It sounds like she was socializing with a lot of Republicans and Randians who I wouldn’t get along with either, regardless of their race. Undoubtedly, there will be disconnect across racial lines in any interracial grouping simply because we experience life differently at very crucial intersections. This is also why I detest people who proclaim “colorblindness” and other tripe, because ignoring differences erase life experiences both negative and positive; and the differences that are problems don’t go away simply because you ignore them. I am a woman who identifies very adamantly as mixed-race, as many more people will identify as in the future, her attitude seems to nullify the very existence of my ancestors’ love across color lines.
I grew up in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, though I had a couple of white neighbors and down the street was an interracially married black and Filipino family, with whom I was closest. A lot of people in that neighborhood (and who still live there) are decidedly more socially conservative than I am. While they don’t vote Republican (and neither do I), they vote Democrat (which I don’t). Using Ms. Cooper’s logic, I should have more in common with my generally Southern Baptist, generally homophobic and transphobic, anti-choice, “no sex before marriage”/ignore the problems of teenage pregnancy, neighbors simply because they’re black, than I do with my religiously liberal, socially liberal white friends. Despite what extremists on the right AND left think, African-Americans are not a monolith, especially when it comes to politics. I mean, are we honestly supposed to believe that if Ms. Cooper was socializing with the likes of Allan West and Clarence Thomas that there would be no strong political disagreements between them? Really? I also get the feeling that she’s probably not a radical liberal and more a doctrinaire Democrat, so she’d clash with people like Glen Ford and Bruce A. Dixon of the Black Agenda Report on a lot of political issues as well.
If Ms. Cooper’s negative experience with whites were with those of similar or identical political views then I would sympathize with her argument a lot more. I think it is great that Ms. Cooper has found people to establish friendships with and I do wonder if they are all truly in accord when it comes to politics or if there are assumptions that they all mostly agree because of their racial identity.