Here is Baratunde Thurston’s viewpoint on friendships between blacks and whites. (These views do not necessarily represent the opinions of the members of Not in Our Town Princeton.)
“A lot of white people like black people. They buy hip-hop, they watch black athletic and sports figures, and it’s superpopular — from jazz through hip-hop. Having a black friend is a mark of progressive success as a white person. And the black person is usually seen as their asset. It’s like: I’m cooler by proxy. … What black people get in the white community [is having] a covert operative behind enemy lines. You have a trusted source who can shuttle information back and forth. It’s like the Cold War. It’s a back channel that prevents race wars from blowing up. So if your white friend has a question about something, they can ask you, their trusted black friend, and you can feed them real or false information, depending on your purposes, but they don’t have to make an assumption or a leap that ends up in a more awkward, more public moment.”
This quote comes from Terry Gross’s Fresh Air interview with Baratunde Thurston, a comedian and founder of the black political blog, Jack & Jill Politics. According to the NPR story, .Thurston grew up in two worlds, a drug-infested neighborhood of the District of Columbia and the rarified world of Sidwell Friends School. His book, How to Be Black, a satirical self help memoir, was published in time for Black History Month.
The NPR article concludes: “Thurston says he was able to balance his worlds because he was taught ‘multiple extremes.’ …. So it encouraged me to see the goods in both sides and challenge both perspectives.”