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While watching a series of videos from Jimmy Fallon’s show on youtube, I

discovered a series he had called “Pedestrian Question.” In this series, an interviewer

went around Hollywood boulevard asking various people on the street the same question

and filmed their response. I came across a video titled “Pedestrian Question: Do You

Have A Black Friend?” It was originally published on February 4th 2015, which is during

black history month. Since president Ford officially recognized black history month in

1976, a lot has changed in regard to race relations. Because of this, I think that Jimmy

Fallon wanted to see what kind of responses individuals in society today would have to

the question, “Do You Have a Black Friend?” What i found particularly interesting was

that the audience in Jimmy Fallon's show would predict the response of the pedestrians

based solely on the introduction of that individual. For example, a white male named

Chuck from Ohio is asked if he has a black friend and admits he does. However, Chuck is

unable to name him/her leading the audience to believe that he is lying to make himself

seem a certain way.

A black male is asked the opposite, if he has any white friends. He responds with

“not really” and “white people are kind of scary.” While Jimmy Fallon tries to discuss

such a socially sensitive topic with a comedic approach, this video reveals several things.

First, it shows the reality of racially homogeneous networks. The audience's disbelief that

some white people would have a black friend underlines the assumption of people to

claim something that is untrue. Racial homophily is strongest among caucasians because

they experience the highest degree of racial isolation. White Americans are so scared of

being labeled a racist that they will lie about something so unimportant as having a friend

of a certain race. The fact that someone, like chuck for example, says they do but is
unable to even name them proves this. This video shows why racial diversity matters in

forming views on race.

Auguste Comte, the french philosopher who founded sociology, believed in

positivism which is the idea that only scientific truth is the real truth. We cannot be 100%

certain that the individuals that are being asked this question are being honest. We cannot

also know the exact reason for why individuals might answer a specific way.

Karl Marx is the father of the social conflict theory, which is a component of the

four paradigms of sociology. The conflict theory claims society is in a state of perpetual

conflict because of competition for limited resources. It holds that social order is

maintained by domination and power, rather than consensus and conformity. Some in

society may believe that a certain race has more domination and power than another.

Because some individuals in the video did not want to be viewed this way, they were not

honest.

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva is an American political sociologist and professor of

sociology at Duke University. He talks about “white habitus” which is whites’ racial

taste, perceptions, feelings, and emotions and views on racial matters, including a greater

degree of comfort interacting with other whites. This relates directly to the video.

Because society thinks that whites only interact with other whites due to the degree of

comfort, they assume that a white person will not have a black friend. Bonilla-Silva

argues that this results from a process of racial socialization.

Emile Durkheim developed theories of social structure that included

functionalism, the division of labor, and anomie. These theories were founded on the

concept of social facts, or societal norms, values, and structures. Today in society, we are
expected to treat all races equally. This wasn’t always the case. Some individuals in the

video may have answered a question in a certain way because they wanted to comply

with the social norms/values in today’s society.

I believe that this specific video relates most to the sociological perspective of

symbolic interactionism. This focuses on face-to-face interactions such as an interview. It

also focuses on symbols. Some pedestrians may have responded to the question, “Do You

Have a Black Friend” with “yes” in order to symbolize that they are not racist and do not

have a problem with befriended someone from another race. Verbal conversations, such

as the ones in this video, serve as the predominant symbols. The things that these

pedestrians are saying require intention and interpretation.