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April 2023: Cross Racial Friendships

It’s finally spring! A time for new beginnings. A time for growth. A time for discovery. A time for friendship. In our open and honest conversations every month, one theme has come up regularly - cross racial friendships. Do we have them? If not, why? If we do have them, how did they occur? How can we make friends across racial lines when there are so many factors separating us from each other? How can we bring our whiteness into relationships with people of color when there is so much potential for things to go off the rails? Will we ever know that we’re healed enough to be good trustworthy friends to people of color? Making friends of any kind later in life is difficult, how can we address this particular challenge? As white people looking at our own conditioning, do we run the risk of overthinking it all and talking ourselves out of trying to make friends of color? Here’s a brief transcription from an interview about cross racial friendships in which Shereen Marisol Meraji, from the Code Switch podcast had this to say:

"Well, I spoke for a long time with psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum, who wrote Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?. Tatum told me that social scientists who research cross-race friendships found that, yeah, white Americans, they do want to have fun. They want to have a chill friendship. And obviously, we all do. But what's, like, the opposite of fun for white Americans? Well, talking about race and racism. And you know, studies show that black Americans actually do want to talk about race and social justice, especially with their friends.” One of our members shared this: "I went to a multiracial social justice gathering years ago in New York City. There was music! Dancing! Food! We sat in a circle and tried to be open with each other. I was pretty uptight about being only one of a few white folks in the room until a woman shared something that changed me forever. She said “Yeah, I’m from Trinidad and we don’t care if you’re Black or white. All we want to know is can you hang?” A huge weight was immediately lifted! My whiteness didn’t have to be a permanent barrier to friendships with Black folks and people of color as long as I could hang. And, of course the paradox has been that in hanging with white people in CWC and other antiracist spaces I’ve been able to examine my own whiteness and develop an ongoing antiracism practice that has allowed me to have meaningful relationships across racial lines. It’s a process, but yeah every day I’m learning to hang." Here’s a short video of Journalist Christine Pride about the importance of in that may help spark some conversations about the importance of interracial friendships in the second half of our gatherings this month. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/an-essay-on-the-importance-of-interracial-friendships Here are some prompt questions: 1. How was I raised to view interracial friendships? 2. How do I feel about taking the actions necessary to develop meaningful interracial friendships? 3. Am I putting energy into working through my whiteness? 4. Have I talked myself out of taking the steps to make cross racial friendships? 5. What doers it mean to be a friend and how does this intersect with race? 6. If I do have interracial friendships did I have to do work on myself for this to be possible? As always, if this prompt doesn’t inspire you, feel free to discuss anything that’s on your heart. Look forward to seeing you soon!


P.S. Check out the podcast In Pursuit of Cross-Racial Friendship.


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