4 Life-Changing Benefits to Interracial Friendship

By Abriana Gonzalez on September 26, 2019

So, it turns out being jealous of dogs is completely founded. Dogs are really lucky because they’re colorblind and a lot of us like to pretend that we are, but we’re not. (Unless you actually are, then ignore this.)

We all see race. Many of us want to forget the past and all of the misdeeds forged within it and create new relationships, but remembering past transgressions and laws vying for the separation of the races makes interracial friendships so powerful and necessary.

I grew up in a weird little bubble of a town that prided and advertised itself as diverse and actually was. I was never the only black kid in my class (unless I took advanced courses, but that’s another article) and nearly all the students in my school district had friends of different races, ethnicities, faiths, and social standings; and I started to notice something really special happen in these friendships. Interracial friendships started to change some peoples’ ideologies and slowly started making people better and more accepting.

These changes didn’t happen overnight, and they only seemed to happen when both people were open to being changed. In this era of neo-Nazism, racial targeting, and dead memes we need something to help us understand one another now more than ever.

photo by Priscilla Du Preez via Upsplash

1. Help Bridge a Divide

In recent years a lot of people believe race relations have deteriorated greatly. Average citizens now feel torn between being “woke” and trying to understand people of different cultures and how to combat injustices or minding their business and staying in “their lane.” However, one simple way to combat racial injustice is being friends with people of a different race from your own. Due to intense racial segregation, interracial friendships are not common despite what Disney Channel would have you believe. Even in “diverse” areas like the one I grew up in, people tend to expect interracial friendships while that is not the case. Hurtful, inaccurate stereotypes tend to keep people seen as “different” apart from one another and color how we seen one another. But having a close friend of a different race has the rare opportunity for growth, self-reflection, and understanding.

2. Increase Understanding

Having a friend of a different race or ethnicity gives you a rare chance to combat the negative stereotypes and defy the old laws banning your friendship. Instead of wondering what another group is like and seeing them as the “other” you can find a way to discuss difficult things concerning race, segregation, colorism, and sexism with your friend and expand your worldview. The conversations are not always easy, but for so much of the world to heal they are necessary.
Having a friend different from you exposes you to a new world of traditions, cultures, foods, music, languages, and will probably increase the amount of inside jokes between the two of you which is always a plus.

Photo by bamagal via Upsplash

3. Foster Positive Change

The world can seem like a dark, chaotic place with no rhyme or reason to anything that happens and I’m not going to lie to you and say friendship makes it better, but if we don’t try and create the world we want to see we’ll never grow or change or reach our full potential. The world is so much bigger than we think it is and the people in it are so much more than what we often think they are and if we continue to categorize and stereotype groups of people the world will remain dark. But if we reach out of our comfort zones and go out of our way to meet and befriend people different from us, we can be more than we ever dreamed, because understanding breeds action.

Photo by Ben White via Upsplash

4. Expand Our Worldview

My best friend is a white, queer, Jewish queen among women and because of our friendship, I find myself knowing so much more about Judaism, activism, and aspects of LGBTQ+ culture. She’s shared Shabbat, Passover, the Sabbath, her relationships, and so much more that makes her up and I’m better for knowing her culture. In turn, I share with her colorism, aspects about my hair, my family, the lasting impact past injustices still have on my people today, my inner battles over my racial identity, and Naruto memes. We can’t often relate to one another—we don’t always get exactly what the other means, but we’re there to share in each other’s pain and joy; we’re there for the ups and downs—and most importantly we share a deep love of Rick and Morty that can never be shaken.

Not everyone in the world grew up in my weird bubble where just about everyone was gay and the school had 40% of students of color instead of the typical 7%. Interracial friendships have a special place in my heart and when they are done correctly (i.e. the friendship is real and not for Instagram or to prove how good a person you are) then they can change so much of the world around us. I get it—meeting new people can be really scary and can feel weird and feel boundary-crossing and can bring up old social anxiety from high school, but if you want the world to be better (and since you made it to the end of the article, you do), you owe it to yourself to try to meet people that look nothing like you and tear down the space between the two of you. And if we collectively continue to befriend the change we want to see in the world, it will change for us.

Rising senior at West Chester University studying communications, political science, and leadership who loves writing, politics, John Mulaney, and crafting her future Broadway musical.

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