This one simple suggestion will help lead to successful interracial relationships on all levels.
Growing up in a racially diverse town meant that it was common and expected for children to grow up with interracially mixed friendships. As the years passed and I’ve have grown into adulthood, I’ve found that many of my childhood friendships with people outside of my race has fizzled out. Come to think of it, a lot of my old friendships have fizzled out in general.
Race is a cool factor to blame but the reality is that many of those old relationships have been displaced by new friendships that reflect the ever evolving person that I am and race has nothing to do with it. But I don’t give credit to the changing times or my personal circumstance. I think the authenticity of my interracial friendships has been achieved by encouraging a level of comfort around race and culture while being mindfully patient, compassionate and humble in the face of racial boundaries that I don’t understand. Approaching race with a open mind and willingness to learn and grow, I think, is the key to making interracial friendships work.
WAYS TO KEEP INTERRACIAL FRIENDSHIPS/ RELATIONS ALIVE
Be Open Minded
Stop walking on egg shells and say the first socially-insensitive thing that comes to mind. I’m not suggesting you should be flat out racist. I’m just saying speak freely but don’t be all high-and-mighty when your friends try to correct you. One of the most frustrating aspects of an interracial friendship can be when your friend of a different race asserts that they know what it’s like to be [fill in the blank] race. This is one of those sets of experiences that is impossible to adopt simply by trying to walk in someone else’s shoes. Culture, personal experience, family and ethnic traditions, ancestral and national history are just some of the factors that make race a very complicated issue. If you say something insensitive, don’t be beyond reproach. Use it as an opportunity to learn more about your friend and their perspective as a person with a background that is different from your own. At the end of the day, if you really want to be pretentious, you can parade around your newly found cultural sensitivity amongst your same-race friends and maintain your pedestal of liberal superiority but I don’t recommend it. This kind of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?
Approaching an interracial friendship with the expectation that you’ll be confronted with experiences that may be very different from your own is a liberating way to embark on this journey. I truly believe that every person and every situation that we encounter in life manifests in order to teach us something about our Self. And when I say “our Self”, I am talking about the large organism that is this living universe.
So leave the apprehension and judgement at the door and welcome new perspectives and new world views into your field of awareness. This doesn’t mean that you have to change your personality or code switch to be accepted by those who are different from you. However, as each and every experience has that inevitable way of molding our own mental construction of reality, these friendship often yield much more dynamic personalities than the types that graduated high school, got married and bought a house in the same small town where they were conceived.
What have you learned from your interracial friendships or relationships?
Can they survive the test of time?
What challenges have you face while trying to build a strong build across racial lines?