Please stop citing your one black coworker during your debates on race

We can’t all agree on much lately, but if I were to declare this our nation’s most racially tense time in recent history, I don’t think it would be met with much opposition. I would be crass to compare it to the 60s.

(Side note: This works for the 1860s or 1960s. One can only imagine what civil rights break through we’ll all be losing our minds over in the 2060s. I don’t know, but if I manage to still be alive somehow, I will probably be on the wrong side)

Snap back to reality. The difference between those two other eras in history and now is that we didn’t have social media. Skip the trite and pedantic essay on how intense political debate have been forever changed by Facebook, Twitter and of course SnapChat.

I’ve noticed an increasingly common phenomenon in online debate. It often happens when a non-minority is trying to argue their side, and they’ll use this tactic.

“We’ll my coworker says that Michael Brown was a thug who got what he had coming. Oh and SHE’S BLACK!”

I’m not going to argue the merits of that statement, because it’s pointless; and it’s not why we’re here today.

I believe that most people who use this tactic are aware of how weak it is. It’s usually the last thing they have to offer as the argument has exhausted itself, leaving neither the wiser.

This form of attack is problematic for a few reasons. First, it’s a variation of the appeal to authority fallacy.  This fallacy assumes that because a piece of information comes from an authoritative source, that it by definition is true. It bypasses the normal logical justification of a statement by propping up whoever said it. It’s even more particularly insidious in this form, because it doesn’t even appeal to a qualified authority. It merely taps someone to parry your argument merely on their racial status.

Furthermore, it highlights a lack of diversity in one’s social circles. If you you are offering the dissenting black opinion on a racial topic as what smart blacks think, then you’re either lying, or you need more black friends.

Then you and your circle can make a ton of money posing for stock photography

Not to mention, for years now Bill Cosby has been lambasting what he perceived as a black culture gone wrong. My stomach turned as I’d see these videos being shared by my unmistakeable not-black friends. It struck me as a modern day Kipling-esque attempt to modernize the heathens. But I promise you, Cosby’s views were not shared by most and it’s one of the reasons why blacks have remained mostly silent while his career goes up in flames.

Jews should be able to relate. I’ve experienced it while fighting the eternal, intractable war that is the debate over Israel. It’s usually only a matter of time before somebody quotes their “Jewish friend.”

I’m not even going to pretend this isn’t cute.

Where I get particularly offended is that there are those who will use their black friend as an authority on an issue when it suits them, while summarily dismissing the thousands of  blacks who are appearing on Television, writing on the internet, and marching through the streets trying to get their voices to be heard.

I am not offended when I hear a dissenting black voice on these issues. In fact, nothing makes me happier. The wheels of democracy are fueled with rigorous debate. Furthermore, it allows the shows the “black community’s” diversity of opinion and perspective. But, it breaks my heart when those diverse and alternative opinions are used against them.


About Ben Faulding

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island. I found my way to Judaism during my twenties. I'm currently a direct care worker for adults with special needs and I live in Crown Heights.
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