I'll Have You Know I Have Several Black FriendstersCommentary • Opinion • old internet • race • ISSUE 40•02 • Jan 14, 2004 By Harold Evars Harold Evars Me, prejudiced? Of all the slanderous, hurtful, and untrue things you could say! I may have had a somewhat sheltered upbringing, but I'm extremely tolerant of all kinds of people. I would never pass judgment on someone because of the color of his skin. Look, I'll have you know I have several black Friendsters. I have four Friendsters of color right at this very moment, in fact, and I'll probably connect with even more soon. I log on with no preconceived notions whatsoever. Take, for example, how I met my very good black Friendster Geoff. I was looking through my college friend Sarah's Friendsters, and he was listed as one of her 62 friends. It turned out Geoff and I both love The Simpsons and The Lord Of The Rings, so I invited him to be my Friendster. I did this without an ounce of prejudice about the fact that he happens to be black. A couple of days later, Geoff accepted my invitation, and we've been Friendsters ever since. Every couple of weeks, we'll IM back and forth about the newest Simpsons episode. Would a "xenophobic suburbanite" do something like that? Would a "clueless, stuck-up, spoiled brat" carry on that kind of intimate Friendstership with a black person? I'm not saying it's a big deal to have a black Friendster. Does my Friendstership with Geoff make me better than anyone else? No. Would I claim that I'm more cultured and enlightened, just because I have one black Friendster? Of course not. But Geoff's not the only one. There's also Kim. You see, a couple of months ago, I saw this really cute girl named Shannon in my Friendster Adam's list, so I checked out her profile. After viewing all of her photos and skimming her interests, I started browsing through her female friends, too. Kim was on the second page, about halfway down. She looked really hot in her thumbnail. She's around my age, so I invited her to be in my network. She e-mailed me back—"sure I guess why not ;)"—and we've been hard and fast Friendsters ever since. As for my other two black Friendsters, Johnny and Sean, I can scarcely remember how they ended up in my circle. You see, Friendstership with a black person is no different from any other Friendstership. Sometimes it's difficult to remember exactly how it started. Have my black Friendsters changed my worldview? I believe so. Just scrolling through their interests has opened my eyes to things I wouldn't ever have known about if all of my Friendsters were white. Without the influence of Kim and Sean, I probably wouldn't have considered reading Milk In My Coffee by Eric Jerome Dickey. But since they both listed it as one of their favorite books, I may check it out someday. It's really sad that some of my real-life friends don't have any black Friendsters. They're missing out on so much. After you've become Friendsters with a black person, your eyes are opened to how important it is to explore the diversity that exists in your own Internet community. Just the other day, I was talking to my cousin Chris, and I found myself thinking, "How can he say Al Sharpton is just a figurehead candidate? Doesn't he see how important it is to have black people in positions of political prominence? Doesn't he understand how hard it is to be a black person in this country?" But of course, Chris doesn't have any black Friendsters, so he probably doesn't ever have to think about these things. I didn't even try to explain. He wouldn't understand. Someday, I'm going to have a party and invite all of my Friendsters. It sure would be great to meet my black Friendsters in person and see them standing there amongst my coworkers and real friends. I wonder what Johnny is really like? What does Geoff's voice sound like? What kind of clothes would Kim wear? What would Sean think of my apartment? I'm sure we'd all grow a lot that night. Would I even consider a party like that if I weren't tolerant and compassionate? Does that sound like a party that an "asshole who just doesn't get it" would throw? I didn't think so. I truly believe that when you open your mind, you stop focusing on the differences between people and begin to notice the similarities. Deep down, we're all just people with profiles on Friendster. Sure, the face in Sean's uploaded jpeg might be black, and the one in mine might be white, but at the end of the day, aren't we both just two humans walking the same earth in search of Activity Partners, Friends, and Dating (Women)?