Let's start by stating that this is not a Daniel Radcliffe issue directly.. not just because as a British person, I naturally love all things Harry Potter(It is considered treason not to - #HogwartsIsMyHome). But because as the world becomes more socially aware, we all at different times will have a mirror held up to actions or behaviors we've carried out for a long time. Therefore this is a wandering about what it actually means for an individual and the world they function in, to have friends who share different and racist beliefs. Daniel Radcliffe recently caused myself, and without doubt others, to take pause, when in a recent interview about his upcoming film 'Imperium' with 'The Hollywood Reporter' he said "I know some really f***king racist people, friends I vehemently disagree with".
"And I'm still friends with them because I don't think that friendship should be drawn along those lines." Radcliffe is in no way alone in having people close to him who holds views he personally disagrees with. After all, don't we all have a friend, or two ...or twelve whom we disagree with on politics and social issues? The Facebook friend who for some reason continues to follow the Trump campaign page? The older relative who makes the insulting joke during a holiday season dinner? (Personally, as a Christian who 100% supports and advocates for the rights and equal treatment of members of the LGBTQ community, I know the problem of bumping up against someone who shares different opinions on big issues.)So are we to drop all of them from our lives and company forever? It obviously is not that simple, but what DOES Need to be acknowledged however, is that privilege does play a role here. To be able to stay friends with racist people is a sense of privilege that a white individual, unlike a POC, has. This is because their views and opinions not only deem the POC as secondary and lesser, but has the potential to endanger them. A white man like Radcliffe is able to consider the racism of his friends as simply a casual difference in opinion - just a different outlook. But the reality is that the impact of these views have real impact on the life of POC as a person carries their opinions with them to the ballot box and in one form or another in the world.
"They're not white supremacists, they would never be that extreme, but they are anti-immigration and absolutely voted to leave in Brexit," There is sometimes a misconception that if a person is not burning crosses, that this almost makes their racist attitudes null and void. The thing is, whilst thankfully, joining the Klan is not as popular as it once was, it is easy to slip into seeing the world through rose tinted spectacles of a 'post racial society', and falsely seeing your friends racist beliefs as a small deal, and in turn not seeing that the dangers associated with racism, on any level, are still very present. It can be argued that the opinions of Radcliffe's friends are not, as he said, 'extreme', but this is a relative description as the outcome of racist thinking is in no way extreme for a the white individual, but is a different story for the POC living in this society with the people who hold the racist opinions and next door to and in the office with and being (or not being) employed by the 'racist friends', including those who have been victims of the increased racial abuse in Britain since Brexit. I think many of them would maintain that when it comes to holding racist perspectives, which are the foundation of the discriminatory battles faced by POC, 'extreme' is the right word to use. It is extreme because it is a
microcosm of institutional racism and plays a part in prejudice policies and even in supporting presidential campaigns in which a candidate calls for a nationwide ban on a religion of 1.6 billion people.
It is important to note that understanding that having racist friends is a privilege is not hard for a Person of Color as many perhaps only have to look at some of their own experiences of having friends with racist views, and unfortunately having to deal with it the hard way. This is because, contrary to some misguided beliefs, having a POC friend does not mean one is not racist – as in an article by 'Cracked', a former neo –Nazi stated : "What you have to understand is that every racist, or anyone who belongs to some kind of hate movement, makes exceptions. Because you make stereotypes about people, and then you meet one, and that one is always the exception: "All women are bitches, except Jessica, she's cool."
Whilst most people in general are probably not friends with Nazi's, many POC have found themselves friends with people, who have turned out to have racist views. However casually accepting this is not easy, as this friend can make an assumption or comment with racist undertones, leaving the POC to decide whether to bite their tongue, confront their friend (risking being viewed as 'too sensitive') or drop the friend all together. Not an easy situation to be in.
I think it's fair to say that Radcliffe and many other people with racist friends are not themselves racist, but what is 'the right thing' to do under such circumstances? There is not one straight forward answer, but I do think It's important that those in these situations RECOGNIZE their privilege. There is no such thing as 'casual racism' for POC, as it is all part of the institution that disadvantages and undermines them on several different levels. Additionally, it makes no difference to anyone, if someone is not racist but does nothing besides uncomfortably sipping their beer whilst racism is splurging from their friend's mouth. As Alicia Keys elegantly put it: "Silence is Violence."
If you do have racist friends – do you call them out on it? Are you careful not to fall into apathy and begin viewing discriminatory beliefs as no more than 'just the way it is' and not worth tackling? Are you an ally to those you claim to support with your views? Claiming to not be racist, but not actively speaking against racism, is about as good as claiming to be able to fly but never using your wings. When it comes to racist beliefs and the detrimental effects they have on our minds, society and POC, the silence of those who consider themselves 'allies' are even louder than the voices of hate. If you have racist friends but YOU are not the racist friend you must recognize that not being racist isn't a passive thing – it has to be an active thing. Because for those who suffer from racism, there is no casual dismissal of racist attitudes because for them race is not just a political issue – it's a life issue.