For some, the 'black friend' defense is a tired racial trope

Kelly Darden Jr. still remembers one of the first times he experienced the "black friend defense."

The 64-year-old Greenville, North Carolina, man, who is black, says a group of white high school classmates dressed in Confederate-inspired clothing insisted they weren't racist when confronted because some knew him.

The "black friend defense" played out before a national TV audience during this week's congressional testimony of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer.

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina pointed to Lynne Patton, a black Trump administration staffer, as proof that the president is not racist.

Social media quickly went into a frenzy over the interaction. For many, saying a person can't be racist because of the color of the company he keeps is a tired and hollow argument.

Patton says she supports Trump.