**I want to preface people to read the entire article, before coming to a conclusion on the story’s opinion or purpose**
Two days ago the Washington Post released an article titled: Three quarters of whites don’t have any non white friends. As I dug into the article I expected to find some sort of data that made white people out to be overwhelmingly more racially segregated in their peer groups than other races. Instead what I saw were the following stats:
Stat 1: Out of 100 friends
- The average white person has 1 black friend and 9 minority friends in total
- The average black person has 8 white friends and 9 minority friends of different races in total
Stat 2: Regardless of number of friends
- About 75% of white people do not have a single black friend
- About 66% of black people do not have a single white friend
This story was headlined as though we have a white only issue, and yet what the stats tell us is that we have a much larger, self-imposed, racial segregation issue. The difference between having 1% friends of a different race and 8% friends of a different race is absolutely negligible. Having 7 more black friends out of 100 won’t make you a better or more open minded person. The problem is one people of all races face in this country, and that’s true because we don’t see enough diversity in peer groups by any race. Period.
My problem with this story, and with the media and probably most people in general is that people just don’t know how to have an honest and objective conversation about race. Why can’t the media just put out a story that’s titled “Stats say that Americans are rather segregated in their friends,”? Isn’t the problem a larger one than just white people? But that story wouldn’t get nearly as many clicks as assigning a target in the headline. I’m not saying this because I think the media is being unfair against white people, because fact is the media does the same guilt assignment to other races all the time. Look at the coverage of Ferguson, every image is either a white man holding a gun or an angry black man about to “riot”. I highly doubt that every black person is looting or that every white person is waving around an automatic weapon. That’s my point. We need to stop trying to assign blame to make a story either more edgy or to soften the blow and cater to an audience. We need to start having real and honest conversations like intelligent people on these subjects.
When it comes to the issue of interracial friend groups, I can’t pretend like it’s not a problem. Even though I’m white, I have joked since I was about 13 that I am a brother on the inside. Why? Because for the majority of my life, my friends have been almost more non-white than white. I’ve also probably dated less white girls than I have of any other race. I say this not because I deserve a medal, but rather because being who I am I have been even more aware of how racially segregated most friend groups can be (especially outside of major liberal cities like NYC and LA). I was and still am, regularly, the only white person in a hispanic, asian, indian or black group of friends. That’s a problem. The fact that I am abnormal for having so many good friends of different races is a problem.
Listen, I’m not saying white people aren’t probably more subtly racist than other groups. Part of the reason my friend group looks the way it does is because I’ve always avoided in engaging with white people who had even the most subtle prejudices. I never cared what race a person was, just bring something of value to the table and we’re cool. However, from the eye test (just walking around and looking around) I can’t deny there is a major need to integrate more. I am abnormal. But I’d be just as abnormal if I were black for having as diverse a friend group as I do. Which is why we need to start having real dialogue about the issue. What we don’t need are more link-bait skewed headlines trying to throw any one race under the bus. That’s not what this is about, and it’s certainly not going to help. The only way our racial issues change in this country, is when we start viewing ourselves as a collective “we” rather then a selective “us” and “them”.
This country has come a long way since the civil rights era, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a long way to go. It’s going to take work on all sides and it’s going to take honest dialogue to achieve this progress. But you know what it’s going to take more than anything? Our media doing a better job at facilitating honest and intelligent conversation rather than tabloid or antagonizing journalism simply for the sake of grabbing viewership. Like it or not the media plays a really important role in the way we perceive reality and digest information. They need to do a better job at objectively moderating these conversations. In the end, I just expect better.