Imagine, if you will, the New York Times publishing an op-ed from a southern white man who argued that his children would not be friends with black children – indeed, COULD not be friends with them – because black children are not to be trusted. Can you? Can you even dream of such a thing? The mere idea of such an op-ed would cause an international scandal from which the paper would never recover. Even if every other article in the Times that day was in refute to the op-ed, it wouldn’t matter. They would be out of business within a month for providing even an inch of copy space to that kind of horrible, segregationist, racist claptrap.
But if it’s a black professor saying basically the same thing? Oh, well, that’s just fine.
That’s what we’re to understand from Ekow Yankah’s published column in Sunday’s New York Times, where the law professor contends that while he may be fine with his black children assimilating in white society or playing with white children at school, he is not fine with them believing that they can truly be friends with white people. White people, he argues, are not to be trusted.
Want to take a guess at to what (or who) this is all about? We’ll give you three tries.
“Donald Trump’s election has made it clear that I will teach my boys the lesson generations old, one that I for the most part nearly escaped,” he writes. “I will teach them to be cautious, I will teach them suspicion, and I will teach them distrust. Much sooner than I thought I would, I will have to discuss with my boys whether they can truly be friends with white people.”
Yankah asserts that by supporting – tacitly or explicitly – the candidacy and presidency of Donald Trump, white people have proven that they are not truly sorry for the oppression that preceded the civil rights era. That, indeed, they are either oblivious to the ongoing privilege that they enjoy or are aggressively angry that blacks would dare to challenge their supremacy.
“Meaningful friendship is not just a feeling. It is not simply being able to share a beer,” he writes. “Real friendship is impossible without the ability to trust others, without knowing that your well-being is important to them. The desire to create, maintain or wield power over others destroys the possibility of friendship. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous dream of black and white children holding hands was a dream precisely because he realized that in Alabama, conditions of dominance made real friendship between white and black people impossible.”
Oh brother. Of course, the unspoken assumption in Yankah’s screed is that you MUST accept the terms of his ideological conditioning. There is no, “well, maybe you agree with me on this and maybe you don’t.” There may be disagreement on the point of whether blacks and whites can truly be friends, but there can be no disagreement on the underpinnings of the essay itself: That Trump is racist, that American society is built and upheld on a foundation of white supremacy, and that anyone who is blind to the first two is guilty of either implicit or explicit racism. These are the arguments that can only come from someone entirely brainwashed by subjects like “critical race theory,” and Yankah’s repeated used of terms like “black bodies” makes it clear that he is such a man.
To us, it seems clear enough that there is racial division in our country that was not there a few years ago. We’re not, however, convinced that Donald Trump is as much the reason for that division as he is the response. Want to turn everything into a game of identity politics? Perhaps this is the result.
Maybe doubling down is not your best move right now.