INTERVIEW: Tanner Colby, “Some of My Best Friends Are Black”

From the cover of the recently released paperback, "Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America." Tanner Colby, who moved to Vestavia Hills in eighth grade, wrote it after realizing that despite the nation electing its first black president, he and his white friends basically didn't have any black friends.

From the cover of the recently released paperback, “Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America.” Colby wrote it after realizing that, despite the nation electing its first black president, he and his white friends basically didn’t have any black friends.

 

Birmingham, Ala.– Sometimes world events make people look inward. As Barack Obama campaigned his way to the presidency, self-described lily-white writer Tanner Colby began pondering — and then tenaciously researching — exactly why he and other white people didn’t have black friends. The reasons are complex, ranging from school policy to real estate practices to media image-making to church politics. But Colby dives right in from the springboard of his own life, recognizing his ignorance the whole way. The result: “Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America.” Our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen caught up with the author not long after he appeared on MSNBC to discuss America’s persistent racial separation. A partial index of subjects and time markers is below.

 

 

1:53 — Carsen asks Colby about his comparing white people to cats.
2:47 — Colby talks about his time in Vestavia Hills schools, where he noticed a quieter brand of racial self-segregation, compared with overt racism of today.
4:42 — Colby breaks down “blockbusting” and other fear-based, profit-driven real estate practices that gave rise to the myth that black residents lower property values.
8:02 — A discussion of how federal government policies contributed to urban blight.
10:07 — Colby explains “redlining,” which cut blacks off from mortgage capital.
11:00 — The advertising industry (and media stereotypes) as a window into our culture.
12:35 — Colby’s thoughts on racial separation in church, past and future.
13:30 — Overblown fears of a “majority-minority” country?
14:56 — Where the solution starts…

 

 

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