Friendship, In Black and White
As many of you know, I recently read an article on Franklin McCallie written by Joan Garrett McClane. I absolutely loved reading the article because it spoke, with great honesty, about an oftentimes sensitive subject. One of the things it initiates reflection upon is the idea of friendship across racial lines. What does it mean to you?
I think about relationships, and in turn friendships, a lot. Once a year, at least, I go through my list of associations and make decisions regarding who to delete and who to keep. Normally it happens in December, but sometimes I do it when Spring Cleaning. #funny #NOTfunny My reasons for doing this may surprise you, but they are not for this writing.
As I sit here, I am thinking of when I first had a non-Black, real-life friend. I say “real-life” because I had both Black and non-Black dolls to play with as a small child. Now, I wonder how many of my non-Black friends had Black dolls to play with, and how either having them or not having them affected (if at all) how quickly they gravitated towards people of darker complexions. Interesting, right?
When I started elementary school, my classes were integrated, as were my teachers. As a kindergartener, I made my first non-Black friend. Of course, then I did not think twice about varying skin tones. My family has a complexion range so wide that such things, even to this day, does not result in the reaction so commonly portrayed in mainstream medias.
Because I have lived in several States as a child, I got the benefit of appreciating diversity amongst people and cultures at a very early age. I also understood at an early age that just because two may look alike, they may be worlds apart. Of course, it is easy to get this same message when looking within one’s family, but I have come to realize that people more commonly generalize externally.
Fortunately, throughout life I have maintained the practice of having a “United Nations” entourage of friends. I prefer it like this. As a result, such things as attending multi-cultural churches is done with ease; Eating and hanging out with both Black and non-Black people comes naturally; Working in my profession is not jarring. These experiences make me a more exposed person which enhances my personal growth.
Now, there have been both comfortable and uncomfortable moments. For me, however, the good outweighs the bad. When I select friendships, it is less about the color of one’s skin. I look at the contents of his/her character. Wait! There is a second part. I am not foolish. I understand that someone may have good character, but may use a reasoning when confronted with certain scenarios, like “race”, that would weaken the foundation which I must have strong. You see, with my friends I must trust that no matter what, I am safe. This world is full of wolves in sheep clothing. An enemy can be nice, but a brother will go to battle. This to me is not a skin color issue. It is not about Black and White. It is about that thing in the middle. It is an issue of trust.
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