If you missed Sunday’s op-ed from the New York Times titled “Can My Children Be Friends With White People?,” well…prepare yourself.
In the article, author Ekow N. Yankah, a law professor at Yeshiva University, writes, “History has provided little reason for people of color to trust white people in this way [of genuine friendship], and these recent months have put in the starkest relief the contempt with which the country measures the value of racial minorities. America is transfixed on the opioid epidemic among white Americans (who often get hooked after being overprescribed painkillers — while studies show that doctors under prescribe pain medication for African-Americans). But when black lives were struck by addiction, we cordoned off minority communities with the police and threw away an entire generation of black and Hispanic men.”
With that sentiment expressed, Yankah then declares the lesson he will teach his kids.
“As against our gauzy national hopes, I will teach my boys to have profound doubts that friendship with white people is possible,” he argues. “When they ask, I will teach my sons that their beautiful hue is a fault line. Spare me platitudes of how we are all the same on the inside. I first have to keep my boys safe, and so I will teach them before the world shows them this particular brand of rending, violent, often fatal betrayal.”
Further into the article, Yankah points to the violence in Charlottesville, VA as an example of this growing doubt and distrust, and appears to pin the blame for this pessimistic attitude on President Donald Trump, or more specifically, the large number of white people who voted for him.
“Of course, the rise of this president has broken bonds on all sides. But for people of color the stakes are different. Imagining we can now be friends across this political line is asking us to ignore our safety and that of our children, to abandon personal regard and self-worth,” he writes. “Only white people can cordon off Mr. Trump’s political meaning, ignore the “unpleasantness” from a position of safety. His election and the year that has followed have fixed the awful thought in my mind too familiar to black Americans: ‘You can’t trust these people.”
Although the tone of the article conforms to this pessimistic attitude throughout its majority, toward the end, Yankah discloses that he has still lots of white friends and that his biracial wife passes as Caucasian, which only undermines the point he’s trying to make in the article.
In other words, nothing to see here. Move along. Just another (failed) attempt by a liberal college professor to rile up the Times‘ liberal audience with a bogus notion of white-shaming.