Monday, September 08, 2008

do *you* have friends of another color?

I'm glad Glamour had this panel (h/t Racialicious.)

Not to sound congratulatory, I've always had friends, close friends, of other ethnic backgrounds and I sincerely believe that most of this stuff about race and difference, white privilege and supremacy, would be addressed in a more thoughtful way if folks actually knew people of another ethnicity.

(Like, KNEW them. Not knew OF them. You know?)

Slightly related, but sort of different, over at Stuff White People Do, Macon D. had a really thought provoking post about all-white spaces and the cultural, historical, social blindnesses that kind of monochromaticity can create.

(Hm. 'Monochromaticity.' Perhaps not a real word. But, like, Lollapalooza. Did anyone else notice how White Lolla was and how nearly all the social pairings/groupings seen were monochromatic?)

In a similar way, I think having friends all of one color is...limiting. It speaks to an insularity that I think is really puzzling.

Anyway, Glamour wants to know and I do, too: Do you have intimate friends (not mere acquaintances) from another ethnic group? If so, what's your story?

(I'll show you mine if you show me yours.)


Molly Malone said...

sorry to say that i don't have many regular friends who aren't white. i have an indian/muslim friend who i consider among my intimate friends. but sadly, since i entered a line of work that is very largely white (at least in this neck of the woods), and stopped going to a church that was about 50% black (or church, at all), i'd have to say there are very few "hang out with" friends i have who are not white. i have some non-white friendships i hope to rekindle, but none that are currently really active, per se.

i agree with you: if more white folks had more friends of various ethnicities, discussion would be more thoughtful.

ding said...

Well, it goes beyond white/black. I've worked with black women who've never had white friends (and there's reason for that, but none? at all? ever? just one?) so I think that, overall, everyone benefits from having a diverse social set.

I was saying to a guy the other night while we were hanging out - there is *no* excuse for people not to know someone of another ethnic group. Like, none.

I'm curious - what kind of area do you live in? Midwest, pacific northwest, coastal, rural, southern?

immutableinscrutable said...

It's not just race. What about socio-economic group? I've been lucky - attended international schools, work for an NGO with a diverse staff, belong to clubs with a wide range of members, so I have always had friends from many races - close friends too. But everyone I work with, the majority of the people I went to school with (because of the schools my parents picked) and the people who attend the clubs I go to, are pretty much all in my income bracket. And they're all upper middle class and/or very well educated. I do know people who live in abject poverty (through the NGO work mostly) but I think this lack of communication between the haves, the havenots, and the havesomes can also be limiting - and create fear/resentment/misunderstandings.

Anonymous said...

short answer? yes. i think it's because of my immigrant background and never feeling like an American, so I always bonded more with people of other races, or who were also immigrants. and yes, growing up, i did equate american with white... interesting question this is!

ding said...

@Immutable - yes; socio-economic diversity is important, too.

It took me a bit to answer this because you got me thinking about the way that class diverges (or not) in my own social circle.

If I took my different colored friends and their childhood backgrounds and compared them I think only one of us grew up upper middle class or wealthy. For the most part, most of us grew up in middle class aspiring households.

But if you look at us now - we're all of a piece. Educated, professional, stable and by no means wealthy - but precariously middle class. Interesting.