In a year when racism has been front and center in Americans’ minds, how can we break out of our own orbits to understand the life experiences of other people -- especially those of other races? Author and journalist Christine Pride shares her humble opinion on why it’s important to seek out friends of different races.
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Almost two-thirds of Americans say that social media has a mostly negative impact on the country, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.
They report concerns like the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and only listening to people that you agree with.
So, how can you really break apart those echo chambers?
One way, make a friend.
Tonight, author and journalist Christine Pride shares her Humble Opinion on the importance of interracial friendships.
I wonder if you have ever had a Black person to your home for a social visit. I know the answer is probably no, because most people can count their Black friends not just on one hand, but with one finger.
And I know this to be true, because I am often that person, the one Black friend. And as much as I love and adore all my white friends, that role can get a little old.
The fact that most people don't have a friend of another race speaks to our segregated society, but also our complacency. Many people, many white people, could easily go their whole lives without ever getting to know someone of another race, which requires effort.
Making a new friend is hard, period. Making a friend of another race is harder yet. You don't have the ease of common experience and instant camaraderie.
And, for Black people, going out of our way to make a white friend requires enormous trust. It could, after all, be only a matter of time before said friend reveals their true colors.
It's much easier to conclude, why bother?
Well, we all have to bother. These relationships are important. Even the most well-intentioned, well-meaning white person isn't going to get the same benefits researching and reading about race, though you still should do that, as hearing about the personal experiences of someone you respect, admire and trust.
And this is not to say that white people should go seek out strangers or acquaintances and say, tell me about your Black experience. Do not do that. That's not friendship. That's a transaction.
Real friendship means a willingness to listen carefully, and have your views challenged, because your Black friend doesn't see the world the same way you do. It's going to require you to do the important work of earning and offering trust, so that, if you make a mistake or misstep, you will have some good will to fall back on.
But, even before that, it starts with stepping outside your comfort zone. A diverse social circle isn't just going to fall in your lap. You're going to have to think carefully about where you live and where your children go to school, the activities you participate in, because, if you're only ever around people who look like you, it's going to be all but impossible to create a meaningful connection with someone of another race.
Ultimately, these friendships are going to require putting actions behind intentions.