The video below is the first in a series by Jacobs (his YouTube channel is here). Apparently the series will offer advice on the topic of his book, "race manners." I transcribed the video below for those who can't access it.
Okay, you’re not black, and you want to ask somebody who is black what they think about something. Or, maybe you want to tell them what you think about something. Maybe something they said, or something you saw them do that you’re curious about. And like I said, they’re black, and you’re not. Which doesn’t matter.
Except, it does matter. Because you want to be able to treat it like it doesn’t matter when it doesn’t matter. But at those times when it does matter, like let’s say you want to ask them, “What do you mean that white guy had no right to say that? What’s up with that?” Let’s say you want to ask them that, right?
At those times when race does matter in the conversation, you want to be able to treat it like it matters, without acting like a racist.
So what are you supposed to do?
Rule Number One: If you’re asking a black person what they think, or if you’re telling them what you think about something they think or something they did, always address them with the word “you.”
Y-O-U, singular, as in “you, the person here, who I’m talking with right now.”
That way, no matter what you ask them about -- the white guy they’re irritated with, some racial thing you saw on the news, your relative who loves black music but doesn’t like black people -- you’re not treating them like they’re the ambassador for black people. You’re just treating them like Carla, or Kevin, or Karen, this person you know who’s black, who has their own opinion that you want to know about.
When you address a person that way, they know you want to talk to them, the person who’s there in the room with you. And then they’ve got a great reason to want to talk with you, about what you want to talk about, or about what they want to talk about, which is what you want.
But if you address them the other way, they know you don’t want to talk to them. You may like them, you may respect them, you may be good friends for them. But at the moment, you’re using them as the mouthpiece for a whole bunch of black folks. And they know it, and they don’t like it. In which case, they’re likely not going to want to talk to you, except maybe to tell you something that you don’t want to hear.
What you want is for them to know that you want to know about them.
And here’s the thing -- what they tell you might come partly from their being black, but it will be them talking to you as a person who’s black, not blackness talking to you through a person. They need to know that you know the difference.
And once they know that you want to have this conversation with them -- I mean with them -- they’re probably going to want to have it with you. Unless of course, they don’t, but then it will be for some other reason, not because you did it wrong.
By the way, everything I just said, replace the word black with white, or brown, or gay, or Muslim, or Republican, or any other group, and it’s the same rule.