African-American Professor Ekow N. Yankah advises his children to refrain from being friends with white people. The law professor at Yeshiva University ultimately answered with a “no” to the question posed by a New York Times op-ed, “Can my children be friends with white people?”
“History has provided little reason for people of color to trust white people in this way [of genuine friendship],” wrote Yankah. “And these recent months have put in the starkest relief the contempt with which the country measures the value of racial minorities.” By “recent months,” Yankah refers to examples of white “contempt” for racial minorities like the “rising unemployment among working-class whites,” “criticism of NFL players kneeling for the anthem,” and the “opioid epidemic.”
Yankah bases his pessimism not on personal experience, as his current and childhood hometowns were predominantly free of racial tension, but on the violence in Charlottesville and because Donald Trump is president.
“Only white people can cordon off Mr. Trump’s political meaning, ignore the “unpleasantness” from a position of safety,” said Yankah. “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.'”
Ironically, Yankah admits that he still has lots of white friends and that his biracial wife can pass as Caucasian, as if this doesn’t undermine his argument whatsoever.