I heard of a #New York Times opinion piece that was written last week by Ekow. N. Yankah, a professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. The opinion piece was titled "Can my children be friends with white people." A title like this with a different colour in the title instead of white is something I would expect to see on Stormfront or some other White Supremacy website, but to have heard of a piece like this in The New York Times, a well-respected and well-read publication nearly made my jaw hit the floor. It is obvious that the title of this particular piece was designed to be click-bait, and I must say that the tactic worked because it intrigued me enough to read this article in its entirety, and what I read made me so depressed for the state of race relations in America I felt I had to pass comment on this.

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Taking us back to a darker time

To summarize this article, it begins with the author of the piece discussing a scenario in which he is speaking to his 4-year old son regarding friendship. The author says that the recent images of the terrible violence in Charlottesville, VA and the election of Donald Trump would make him teach his sons "lessons from generations old". A lesson that he says for the most part he escaped. That is to view white people with "caution, suspicion and distrust." It doesn't get much better from there. He goes on to say that #Martin Luther King's dream of black boys and white boys "holding hands" in Alabama was pretty much impossible because of the "position of dominance" of white people.

The piece continues to degenerate into a theme of "them and us," making comparisons between the treatment of communities during the crack epidemic and the opioid crisis and how the Trump presidential campaign focused mainly on the plight of "the white working class." One of my favourite lines from this piece is when the author says "spare me your platitudes that we are all the same on the inside," and that he will go on to teach his sons the "violent betrayal by America" perpetrated by white people when guiding his sons on who they should be friends with.

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Another highlight of this disturbing op-ed, is when the author says that the election of Donald Trump has fixed the thought in his mind of "You can't trust these people," referring to whites. The final line that struck me about this piece is when the author says " I do not write this with liberal condescension or glee. My heart is unbearably heavy when I assure you we cannot be friends."

When I read this piece of garbage, there were a few things I felt I had to address about this. This man seemed to speak of Martin Luther King with a degree of adulation. Martin Luther King fought his whole life to try to combat the racial segregation that plagued America in the 1960's, a race-baiting grandstander such as Mr Yankah is the complete antithesis of what one of the greatest heroes of the 20th Century stands for. If the rhetoric of this man was to be adopted by more like him, we would be returning to the days of separate water-fountains very soon.

This man's entire piece seems to be a plea to white progressives that seem to be centred on the ever-growing regressive left of politics.

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In one line the author says "if they are not clearly allies, they cannot be trusted." In another breath, the author says "spare me your platitudes about being the same on the inside." A man like Mr Yankah is the opposite of what "progressives" claim to be. Progressives claim they support the rights of all people, striving for equality for the most oppressed in society. I hate to break it to you progressives, but Mr Yankah doesn't believe us to be all equal, he says as much in his opinion piece.

The third thing I'd like to address about this piece is that Mr Yankah has a lot of platitudes of his own, but he doesn't seem to have any answers other than an America that segregates itself according to racial lines. Mr Yankah spoke of the white supremacists who attended the rally in Charlottesville in August. A lot of the people who attended that march and are positioned on the alt-right such as Richard Spencer want the same thing too. Their political views are actually more in line with each other than Mr Yankah may ever comfortably admit. Politics do certainly make for strange bedfellows indeed!

I don't know if this man wrote this article from a genuine place or if he was trying to gain some attention for himself from outrageous views that had all the hallmarks of a piece of internet click bait. One thing I do know for sure is that Mr Yankah epitomizes everything that is wrong with 21st Century America. There are discussions that need to be had on the topic of race, this is a matter that has blighted America since it's genesis. But Mr Yankah, just like members of the KKK or the most radical alt-right instigators will not provide any meaningful part of that conversation.

Mr Yankah and every other racist occupy the same coin, only from different sides. I have 4 cousins which are mixed race, they have had to suffer from racism before in their lives, but growing up together as we did, our race was never an issue, we were just kids playing together, and the thought that we couldn't be friends with one another because of our different skin colour breaks my heart. Many people have outrageous views, and something like this would naturally be expected from someone on the far-right, but progressives are often quick to allocate themselves the title of "societies defenders." I really hope that this view from Mr Yankah is an anomaly in the arena of progressive thought because a view like this will only serve to take us back to a darker place in history most of us would never want to see again.