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Episode 212 — Circle of Friends


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#1 July Diaz

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 09:49 PM

Andrew and Tim Chiou explain to a caller why we sometimes gravitate to having a circle of friends who we share common interests with and why she shouldn’t worry about being racist. Open your horizons and don’t forget to keep leaving us messages by calling (323) 389-RACE.

#2 omondieu

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 10:32 AM

I dunno, I don't think I'd go so far as to call Lucy "a little bit racist" just because the majority of her friends happen to be white. Based on the fact that she has noticed this and feels bad about it, I don't think that she isn't open to making friends of different backgrounds. I feel that it's way more racist to go out of your way to deliberately make friends of 'x' background in order to fill some sort of multiculturalism quota in your life.

#3 Shariq Torres

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 01:02 PM

View Postomondieu, on 08 August 2013 - 10:32 AM, said:

I dunno, I don't think I'd go so far as to call Lucy "a little bit racist" just because the majority of her friends happen to be white. Based on the fact that she has noticed this and feels bad about it, I don't think that she isn't open to making friends of different backgrounds. I feel that it's way more racist to go out of your way to deliberately make friends of 'x' background in order to fill some sort of multiculturalism quota in your life.


You're absolutely wrong. It is NOT racist to open up to people who you have not been friendly with previously; that's called "broadening your horizons."

#4 Kevin Irmiter

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 01:54 PM

There's a racist way, and a not racist way, to make friends with people of other races. Andrew explained this well enough in the podcast so I won't bother repeating it. If I were to give advice to someone like her, I would just say try to put yourself in situations where you would naturally meet and befriend people of other races and cultures.

#5 omondieu

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 06:49 PM

View PostShariq Torres, on 08 August 2013 - 01:02 PM, said:


You're absolutely wrong. It is NOT racist to open up to people who you have not been friendly with previously; that's called "broadening your horizons."


No it is not racist to open up to people you have not been friendly with previously (I don't believe the caller implied that she had never been "friendly" with people of other races, but that she was not "friends" with many non-white people), but I feel it is racist to treat people like they're part of your human safari, and to try way too hard to befriend them solely because they're not white. It's condescending and insincere. As for Kevin's comment about putting yourself in situations where you have a good chance of meeting people of different backgrounds, there is a right way and a wrong way to do that. As long as you're not going somewhere with the INTENT of proving you're "down" with a certain race, to fill your Bingo card as the guys said, then that's fine. Just be friendly and sincere to all.

#6 Shariq Torres

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 10:22 AM

View Postomondieu, on 08 August 2013 - 06:49 PM, said:


No it is not racist to open up to people you have not been friendly with previously (I don't believe the caller implied that she had never been "friendly" with people of other races, but that she was not "friends" with many non-white people), but I feel it is racist to treat people like they're part of your human safari, and to try way too hard to befriend them solely because they're not white. It's condescending and insincere. As for Kevin's comment about putting yourself in situations where you have a good chance of meeting people of different backgrounds, there is a right way and a wrong way to do that. As long as you're not going somewhere with the INTENT of proving you're "down" with a certain race, to fill your Bingo card as the guys said, then that's fine. Just be friendly and sincere to all.


I try to not focus on intent because I'm not a mind reader, I would suggest you do the same. I focus on actions. Her actions up until now have excluded any non-white people from getting to know her or her to know them. First step is to correct her actions so that there is a chance of discovery of shared interests.

The thing you're talking about -- "trying to be down" -- is something that happens to some white people because those people are trying to live out their own "Dances With Wolves" moment with you. The dynamic at play there is a white person wanting to feel like they have "mastered" this other culture, so they can go brag to their white friends about it. Whether or not they have friends within that culture is incidental. It's all about proving to other white people that they "know the lingo" and can mix and mingle without drawing attention to themselves.

#7 Kevin Irmiter

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 02:41 PM

View PostShariq Torres, on 09 August 2013 - 10:22 AM, said:


I try to not focus on intent because I'm not a mind reader, I would suggest you do the same. I focus on actions. Her actions up until now have excluded any non-white people from getting to know her or her to know them. First step is to correct her actions so that there is a chance of discovery of shared interests.

The thing you're talking about -- "trying to be down" -- is something that happens to some white people because those people are trying to live out their own "Dances With Wolves" moment with you. The dynamic at play there is a white person wanting to feel like they have "mastered" this other culture, so they can go brag to their white friends about it. Whether or not they have friends within that culture is incidental. It's all about proving to other white people that they "know the lingo" and can mix and mingle without drawing attention to themselves.


For someone who claims not to focus on intent, you sure do spend a lot of time talking about intent in that second paragraph.

I do get what you're talking about though. I do think that intent matters--it's just that it's very easy to make mistakes when it comes to intent, even when talking about yourself. I think it's important to be honest with yourself and make sure you're doing this to try and make yourself a better person, not just make yourself look like a better person to other white people. Also it is possible to have good intentions about something but also have not-so-good intentions at the same time, and tell yourself you are doing it for the good reasons when really those are rationalizations.

It's not up to us to decide what another person's intent is, but having good intentions is a part of being a good person. Along with being open-minded, making a genuine effort to learn, and being able to admit when you've made a mistake so you can correct it and move on. The problem is that many people make is thinking intention is ALL that matters, and using that to try and defend yourself when you do something racist. And it's like, no, it's good that you at least have good intentions but that doesn't excuse you from having to learn and grow like the rest of us.