If you are trying to educate yourself further on social issues, you should not put the burden on one member of a minority group to educate you. While the will to understand more and educate oneself is quite commendable, the way you go about it matters. You should not bombard your minority friend with questions that perplex you.
One, it is insensitive of you to use your friend who happens to be a minority as a spokesperson for their entire group. Two, your questions may very well be offensive in nature. For example, questions like, “Why do your people use terrorism so often?” are inherently ignorant and offensive. Now, you may be telling yourself, “I am just trying to understand more about the situation and how it affects my friend.” What this question fails to realize is that one person cannot possibly speak on the behalf of an entire group, especially if that group is on the other side of the world. These issues do affect your minority friends and using loose language that marginalizes them and forces them to account for an entire group’s actions is insensitive. When a Muslim is forced to account for the actions of a terrorist group, you are effectively equating this person to that terrorist group. Not only do you falsely generalize all members that in your mind share some binding feature, but also you exploit your own ignorance in asking such questions.
There is no reason that in 2017, with ample resources around us via the internet and the library, that any person should ask a minority to defend or explain any claim against their whole group. If you truly want to educate yourself on social and global issues, there are many ways to do so without making your friend mad. For example, learn about a topic before engaging in what you thought was a friendly debate. However, under no circumstance treat the experience a person goes through as a “friendly debate.” I learned well into my high school career that constantly having to defend feminism and Islam was exhausting. I was, in fact, defending my own humanity to some of my peers. I do provide great insight that my friends may have not been aware of, but to be demanded of this insight is unacceptable. There are plenty of articles and books available for you to educate yourself.
In the 21st century, it is no longer necessary to only acquire knowledge through word of mouth. Therefore, to be undereducated on social issues and to be ignorant of minority experience is unacceptable. Before making bold claims, it is essential to do your research. When someone deems your language as offensive, there is a pretty good chance that your language was in some way offensive to whoever you were talking to. To become better friends and even better allies, it is essential you try to understand the complexities of social issues that affect your friends. On topics that you do not understand, do research before you try to hold any of your friends accountable for entire groups of people. Just like all Christians should not and do not account for the KKK’s actions, no Muslim should account for ISIS, no minority group should account for any criminal and no one person should account for an entire body of people.