Daniel Radcliffe

Only White People Can Have Racist Friends

By Courtney Anderson

When actor Daniel Radcliffe said that he had racist friends, I wasn’t surprised.

When he said that he “vehemently disagreed” with them, I was relieved.

It’s always nice to know an actor whose work you grew up with isn’t a racist.

But when he said that he remained friends with those people because he didn’t believe friendship “should be drawn on those lines,” I was disappointed and confused.

I couldn’t understand how anyone could remain friends with a racist.

How is it remotely possible for you to feel comfortable in presence of someone who deploys racial stereotypes and epithets?

How could one even think it is okay to be associated with people who actively participate in oppressing people of color through their language and actions?

It made no sense to me at all.

I can’t imagine even being able to be in the same room as a racist person, let alone feel comfortable enough with them to refer to them as a “friend.”

But then I remembered the fundamental difference between Daniel Radcliffe and I (besides the wealth, and the fame and the acting abilities).

He’s a white male, and I am a black female.

Only one of us can actually experience racism, and it isn’t him.

It seems to me that white people are able to have racist “friends” because racism does not directly impact their lives.

Black and non-black people of color cannot afford these types of “friendships,” because racism not only impacts us, but it dehumanizes and traumatizes us, as well.

This is where I have to remind people of the sociological definition of racism, wherein racism is achieved through a combination of racial prejudice and societal power.

Oftentimes, people only want to refer to the more palatable Webster dictionary definition that would place the onus on everybody in a given society to not be racist.

However, this is a society—and world, really—where the only people with societal power are white people.

White people are the only people who are not negatively affected by racial stereotypes.

While they may hurt some feelings, racial stereotypes about white people do not contribute to a societal structure that allows for discrimination in almost every aspect of life.

“Racism” against white people is just language and maybe some jokes about not seasoning food. Racism against black and brown people can literally lead to our deaths.

And since racism does not affect white people the way it affects black and brown people, they are also the only ones who can safely have “dialogue” with racist individuals.

Discussing race with a racist individual is an emotionally, mentally and spiritually taxing task for black and non-black people that often yields little to no results at all.

We are not just discussing language when we have these conversations: we are negotiating our right to have our humanity recognized and respected.

We are asking someone with societal power that we do not have to acknowledge that power.

We also ask them to acknowledge that they are using that power to oppress people when they behave in certain ways and use certain language.

We are asking to be respected, cared for and to have our experiences validated by people who have never had those experiences.

And it hardly ever works.

All these conversations really do is waste our time and energy.

White people have the privilege of not having their humanity on the line when they have to pull their racist friend to the side and request that they stop being so racist.

White people who actually believe in racial equality should be challenging themselves to stop calling racist people “friends” and put forth the effort to educate them on why their racism can’t fly.

They should also stop putting the onus of education on black and brown people all the time.

We really don’t have time for all that, anymore.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Elen Nivrae/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Daniel Radcliffe Is Right To Stay Friends With Racists

Daniel Radcliffe, who will eternally be know for playing “The Boy Who Lived” aka Harry Potter, recently did an interview where he addressed having racist friends and stated that he doesn’t agree with their thoughts but remains friends with these individuals.

It raises the question about privilege and the “white ally” as well as not addressing racism head on.

Personally, I agree with Mr. Potter because you can have all the conversations you want with a person and engage in a dialogue about the issue, but you can’t make them drink the potion to magically fix the issue.

As a white male, I am the definition of privilege and on top of that I grew up in privilege.

I also went to public school and interacted with other students who were less fortunate than I, who came from families different than mine, who lived in areas that were not safe, filled with violence and uncertainty.

These individuals did not want to be products of their environment and welcomed conversation about our differences.

I am also a Jewish American and I do know that anti-Semitism still exists and I have encountered it many times before but instead of getting angry about it or writing a person off, I try to bring about a dialogue to understand where it comes from.

It has been drilled into my head since I was a child the history of my people, my ancestors and those of my heritage who have been slaughtered time and time again because of our beliefs.

It is about the education that comes as a follow up to the racism and anti-Semitism that is what matters.

Don’t be a bystander. Ever.

No one person can ever say they have never made a racist remark in their life because that is a fallacy through and through.

I do believe as a society though we have become so afraid of offending individuals and those who are not considered to be the “norm” that we continue to build the schism that divides our society.

It is entirely possible to remain friends with people who make remarks that may be deemed racist and that can be offensive.

Is there a line that should never be crossed?

Absolutely!

These types of topics should bring about civil discourse and provide learning opportunities for all to engage and be a part of a larger conversation.

I look at Donald Trump as an individual who uses rhetoric that is meant to rule up those he is speaking about, riling up his supporters and those who believe what he has to say, who might not be exposed to those different from them, and it provides opportunity for racism to grow and become a much larger conversation.

The problem I have with the conversation about racism and deeming someone racist is that it often turn them into a target and gives them a stigma.

I have plenty of friends many who I disagree with and many who disagree with my opinion and statements, but we don’t throw away a friendship over that.

It is the understanding that we accept one another’s beliefs that continues our friendship.

It is the role of the parents and educators both at home and in school to teach about acceptance and understanding to give children the proper building blocks to grow and be more well rounded members of society.

It is up to the parents and educators to mold the future generations and teach them right from wrong but to also be understanding of those who don’t align with their views and values.

I look back at the history of this country and the American people have been a people who have longed for their own identity, their freedom and the right to live how they want without the constraints of religion or government.

As a people, we have progressed backwards in my opinion because we let our religion and our politics blind our views of the world, blind our ability to decipher the truth and bring about actual change.

We’ve become a society divided with a very black and white view of many issues.

As a member of the current society I am living in, it is my duty to engage with those who I come in contact with, whether they are coworkers, classmates or peers and learn about them, engage in conversation with them and allow them to share with me their life experiences.

It is up to the individual to decide whether or not they want to continue a relationship of any kind with an individual who may in fact say very racist things.

Together a community, as an educated and progressive society need to bring a better understanding of our differences and do our part to combat the true hate that is experienced by many.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

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