The article posted above is a viral story that I saw frequently across my Facebook feed all of last week. It is about a young boy who asked his parent if he could get the same haircut as his best friend so that his teacher could not tell them a part. The “giant” twist to the story is that this boy is white and his best friend is black. I feel like similar stories cross my social media feeds frequently, in which white children are portrayed as heroic for seeing part of themselves in their non-white friends and treating them as their equal. I always find them troubling, especially because black people of all ages are constantly forced to compare and look for themselves in white representations, and they are never commended for it.
I still feel that these stories being presented as groundbreaking and revolutionary, that a white person could look at a black person and not only see their race, is wrong. However, after reading Bell Hooks’ essay, I’m able to look at this story and think about these little boys’ love ethics. As Hooks writes, in order to awaken ourselves to love we must, “let go of our obsession with power and domination.” She goes on to mention that she has faith in white people’s ability to speak out against racism, and feels hopeful that we can change our minds and our actions. Thinking about this sentiment with respect to this story, it reminds me that we change constantly and that we change toward racism since it is something we learn slowly and often unknowingly throughout our lives. The love ethic and friendship between these children proves that these prejudices are learned, and Hooks argues that they can be unlearned.