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.
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…