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I'm not racist! My best friend is black. SHE's the racist one.
Alice accuses Bob of discriminating against/being prejudiced towards group X, and Bob denies it, by pointing out "Some of my best friends are X's". Usually played for Hypocritical Humor, as if having friends of a particular racial/ethnic group makes them not racist. Said friends are rarely ever present to speak for themselves and, therefore, can neither defend or criticize whatever it was that earned Bob the accusation of prejudice.
This trope originally appeared in All In the Family, where arch-racist Archie Bunker denies that he is, well, racist. When challenged, it turns out that all these "friends" are actually shoe-shines, waiters and other people who work for him, rather than anyone he actually socializes with. In other words, what makes it invalid was that it wasn't true. However, the trope quickly mutated; it was soon used to connote the fact that even having real friends of a race doesn't preclude one from being bigoted against them. Recently, even making the claim as a defense has been construed as ipso facto evidence of racism.
- Parodied in a She Hulk story involving Spider-Man and Jonah Jameson in court. A lawyer asks Spidey why he thinks Jameson has spent so many years attacking him in the Bugle. To mess with Jonah, Spidey replies that it's because he's black. The flustered JJJ gives the stock response.
- In both the comic and film version of Sin City, there is a scene in which an abusive ex-boyfriend is trying to get into the apartment of his exgirlfriend. She begins to mock him by implying that she has multiple African American boyfriends. The ex-boyfriend becomes even angrier but quickly mentions "some of my best friends are black".
- Runaways: Parodied when Topher assures Molly that some of his best friends are mutants, nauseating Gert. He turns out to be a vampire who was trying to get them all on his side so he could eat them.
Bert McAnny: What? Now, Green, don't get me wrong. Why, some of my best friends are Jews.
Anne Dettrey: And some of your other best friends are Methodists, but you never bother to say that.
- In the 1945 film Blood on the Sun
Nick Condon (James Cagney): I lived [in China] 6 years myself.
Journalist colleague: Four was enough for me... Uh, not that I haven't tremendous admiration for the Chinese people.
Nick Condon: (mockingly) I see; some of my best friends are Chinese, huh? [laughs]
- Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss:
Billy: You're straight?
Gabriel: Girlfriend in San Francisco. What's that supposed to mean?
Billy: Nothing. Some of my best friends are...
- In America (The Book), there's a section listing the most controversial Supereme Court nominees. One of them is (fictious) Floyd Burnington, who was a member of the KKK. The book notes: "But some of his best friends were... Actually, they were all white."
- Catch-22, for the purpose of satire:
Colonel Cathcart: Do you really think it's a good idea to let the enlisted men in?
The Chaplain: I should think it only proper, sir.
Cathcart: I'd like to keep them out. Oh, don't get me wrong, Chaplain. It isn't that I think the enlisted men are dirty, common and inferior. It's that we just don't have enough room. Frankly, though, I'd just as soon the officers and enlisted men didn't fraternize in the briefing room. They see enough of each other during the mission, it seems to me. Some of my very best friends are enlisted men, you understand, but that's as close as I care to let them come close. Honestly now, Chaplain, you wouldn't want your sister to marry an enlisted man, would you?
Chaplain: My sister is an enlisted man, sir.
- Horace Slughorn has a varation: "An X person was one of my favorite students!":
Slughorn: Lily. Lovely Lily. She was exceedingly bright, your mother. Even more impressive considering she was Muggle-born...
Harry: One of my best friends is Muggle-born, and she's the best in our year.
Slughorn: No, no! You mustn't think I'm prejudiced! Your mother was one of my absolute favourites!
- The Thick of It: Ben Swain's "I'm so not a racist! One of my best friends is an Asian" just makes things even worse for himself.
- After Dick was Mistaken for Racist by Nina on 3rd Rock from the Sun, he used this argument when Caryn confronted him about it. The only black acquaintances of his which he could come up with were Nina and Caryn themselves. And Al Roker.
- In the Yes Minister episode "Equal Opportunities", Sir Humphrey responds to Hacker's claim that his opposition to women in the civil service is anti-feminist by saying that some of his best friends are women... "my wife, for instance".
- Occurs in SOTF-TV with this quote, coming from Todd Hudson after mistaking Marcus Walker (an African-American) for one of his team mates while attempting a Pretty Fly for a White Guy routine.
Todd Hudson: "Now, look buddy, I think we might of gotten off on the wrong foot... I think what we've got here is a simple misunderstanding! I mean, I LOVE black guys! Uh, black PEOPLE I mean, seeing as I ain't a fag or anything. But yeah, rap music? I am SO down with that shit! Snoop Dogg? Man, what an awesome guy! I must have, what, six friends who are black? Seven if you count Indian guys... Do Indian guys count as being black? I mean, I know they're kind of brown-ish, but... I dunno."
- The villain in the Mexican soap opera Al Norte del Corazon ("To the North of the Heart"), a racist and bigoted border patrol agent, attempts this before being gang raped in the prison's showers during the final episode:
Stay away you fuckin' brownies!
You are a racist asshole!
I'm not a racist! I'm married to a Mexican!
- Played for laughs in the episode The Gang Gets Racist of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. After The Waitress overhears Charlie saying a comment out of context about African Americans, he goes out of his way to show he's not racist by showing he has African American friends.
- As If (UK TV series) has this inversion:
Alexander 'Alex' Stanton: I'm not being heterophobic... Some of my best friends are straight.
Herman Munster: Grandpa, have you found anything yet to make me brave? When I think of riding a bucking bronco, I'm petrified!
Grandpa: What are you knocking? Some of my best friends are petrified.
- War of the Worlds (TV series):
- In a recent Saturday Night Live sketch parodying white anime/J-Pop fans who are unaware of the Unfortunate Implications of imitating Japanese accents and mannerisms and singing in fake Japanese, one character states, "I am not a racist! My girlfriend is Japanese!"
- Parodied on That Mitchell and Webb Look. Jesus is giving the Parable of the Good Samaritan, but the people he's preaching to already know that the prejudice against them is bad, and one of the people says this trope word for word.
- In New Zealand, Pio Terei presented a series of light-hearted documentaries beginning with the title, Some Of My Best Friends Are..., which deliberately inverted this trope to provide a perspective from the show's subjects.
- In Quantum Leap, after Sam admonishes Al for giving this as the reason he knows so much about Civil Rights Movement, he reveals during the 50 and 60's he took part in the Marches, got arrested, was beaten up by bigots and saw many of his friends killed along the way.
- Subverted in the song "White" by the Left Rights.
Liquor and whores
I've got one black friend
And I don't want more
- Subverted by Stephen Lynch (who is white), when he sings about his preference for black girls in his song "Vanilla Ice Cream." He mentions that he is not a racist since some of his best friends are white.
- Subverted for laughs by Daniel Tosh, who recalls a woman indignantly jumping up his ass for making black guy jokes during his stand-up routine. Daniel replies "Now look here, lady: my best friend is... Cuban, and that's close enough."
- Comedian Sean Lock pokes fun at this trope during a stand-up routine:
"It's a nonsensical argument if you think about it, 'I'm not racist, I've got black friends.' You might as well argue 'I'm not a murderer, some of my best friends are alive!' And if you try arguing 'I'm not a pedophile, some of my best friends are kids!' you'll probably make things worse for yourself.
- Avenue Q, during "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist":
PRINCETON: Everyone's a little bit racist...
BRIAN: I'm not!
PRINCETON: Oh no?
BRIAN: Nope! How many Oriental wives have you got?
- Portal 2 inverts this - when the best insult the power-mad Wheatley can come up with is "Fatty-fatty no-parents", Glados replies "What exactly is wrong with being adopted?" Cue Wheatley mumbling that "Some of my best friends are orphans" while trying to regain control of the conversation.
- Ghost, when faced with accusations of racism, usually says, "I am not a racist, I am a Melting Pot of Friendship, I happen to have a whole BUNCH of friends who HAPPEN to be black! I also have friends who are wops, camel jockeys and Krauts!"
- Deconstructed in this YouTube video. The poster differentiates between what a person does and what a person is. The main point is that while a person might not be racist, a particular action of that person could still be racist.
- The Simpsons: Krusty has a minor identity crisis when his Jewish credentials are brought into question:
Krusty: I thought I was a self-hating Jew, and now it turns out I'm just another anti-semite!
Rainer Wolfcastle: We have so much to discuss.
- In Transformers Generation 1, Bumblebee once said "Some of my best friends are humans." Of course, he actually does like humans.
- King of the Hill: One episode featured Hank being Mistaken for Racist when his dog bit an African-American repairmen. A veterinarian told him his girlfriend is African-American. It turns out Hank's hatred is against repairmen and the idea of needing their services.
- The Mighty B : "Some of my best friends are bees!"
- There was a case in Louisiana where a white judge refused to marry an interracial couple on the basis that their potential children would have a hard time in society. When questioned if he was racist, he answered "Of course not. I have piles and piles of black friends." Yes, he really did say "piles and piles". He also claimed that he lets them use his bathroom.
- There was a Mexican politician who made racist jokes after the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, when the people called him out on this, he claimed that he was not a racist since (sic) "My father was dark-skinned".
- After Michael Jackson included anti-Semetic slurs in his 1995 Protest Song "They Don't Care About Us", he was questioned about them by Diane Sawyer. He denied any prejudice and pointed out that "...my accountants and lawyers are Jewish. My three best friends are Jewish -- David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg. Mike Milken -- these are friends of mine. They're all Jewish. How does that make sense? I was raised in a Jewish community." Jackson rerecorded the song minus the slurs for the single release and the later pressings of HIStory.
- Teri Alexander, the mother of Jake England, one of the suspects in the shooting spree that took place in a predominately black area of Tulsa, OK, wrote this in a letter to a lawyer: "Our family does not hate black people. Two of my beloved grandchildren are African American."
- In Florida, George Zimmerman was accused of racially profiling and killing black teen Trayvon Martin. One of his black friends started making the rounds on the news station to argue that Zimmerman is not racist. Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment in effect here.
- In the recent controversy regarding the firing of (white) journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley over a blog post on the Chronicle of Higher Education criticizing African American Studies, some of Riley's defenders have responded to accusations that her article was racist by pointing out that her husband is black and they have multiple mixed-race children. Note that Riley herself never mentioned this when addressing the outcry over her post.