“My Best Friends are Black”

By Jean Mavrelis - 07.27.2009

When I read the link posted on my blog about Sergeant James Crowley, the arresting officer in the Gates affair, being a diversity trainer, it reminded me of how I used to respond years ago when Black parents would come up to meet me at Douglas Middle School on the west side of Chicago and ask me point blank if I were a racist.  I would immediately begin to go on and on about how I was on the peace and justice committee at my church, and how my best friend was Black, and the more I talked the more the parent would look at me skeptically with an expression that seemed to say, “Yeah, she’s like that!” 

Here’s the issue- Tom Kochman wrote a great chapter in Black and White styles in Conflict called \”Signs of Guilt and Innocence\”. He explained that when Whites feel wrongfully accused they protest and defend their innocence.  Blacks, on the other hand, avoid reacting strongly when wrongly accused – an African American will more likely say simply “I know you’re not talking to me”.  OMG! Think of the implications when white jurors are determining if an African American is guilty or innocence.  If an African American doesn’t protest sufficiently for Anglo cultural expectations, they will likely read the lack of protestation as a sign of guilt rather than innocence. Read more »