A Racist Cliché for the Ages

A Racist Cliché for the Ages

New study claims that “some of my best friends are…” may actually work in racists' favor.

Published February 18, 2016

When you hear that phrase “some of my best friends are…,” you know something racist has just been said and you’re also wondering if anyone is still falling for it in 2016.

According to a new study from the University of Queensland, just mentioning having a certain type of minority friend can apparently diminish how racist a person seems to be towards that specific minority group. With more than 450 Americans (254 Asian-American and 203 White participants) asked to be a part of the study, it was concluded that people who claim to have minority friends do appear to be less prejudiced.

In two experiments, the participants were asked to judge how racist they thought a White man was from a fictional Facebook profile page. In the first experiment, the profile’s cover photo showed a White man in three ways: with all White friends, mostly White friends and an Asian friend or several Asian friends. The page also presented a post where the White man mentioned negative comments about Asians or left out any mention of them.

During the second experiment, the cover photos were removed and the page just included negative posts about Asians that were prefaced with comments such as “Some of my best friends are Asian…”

While he was still perceived as a racist, regardless of the number of Asian friends he had, both White and Asian participants felt that he was less racist and were less bothered by his statements if he had some Asian friends versus no Asian friends.

The takeaway: Just because you’re perceived as being less racist doesn’t actually mean you aren’t still a racist. Which means that yes, you still don’t get to use that word in your favorite rap song, wear a bindi at that music festival or dress up in another culture’s garb for Halloween without getting some maaaaajor side-eye no matter how much “permission” you think you have to do so.  

(Photo: Tetra Images/Corbis)

Written by Jimy Shah


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