Thursday, February 12, 2009

Let's talk race and friendship

It is good to have a racially diverse group of friends. It is one of our greatest weapons against racism--people of different races forming close relationships with one another, that is. But interracial friendships come with challenges, particularly for people of color.

When the controversial photo above surfaced, showing teen star Miley Cyrus and friends mocking Asian physical characteristics, many wondered what the lone Asian young man in the photo was thinking. Was he hurt but silent, lest he loose favor with his circle of friends? Was he oblivious to what was going on behind him? Has he buried his ethnicity to fit in? Did he confront his friends about their insensitive actions? Is he unfazed by it all?

Any person of color who has friends of the majority culture has been there--from hurt and silent to ambivalent. For POC, being involved in interracial friendships tends to involve some personal contortions, some teaching, some "wearing the mask." But how much is too much?

Join Jennifer, of the blog Mixed Race America, and me at 4 p.m. ET, this Sunday, Feb. 15, for the next episode of "The Best of What Tami Said" on Blog Talk Radio. We'll be talking race and friendship.

Listen live or chat on the show page or call in at (646) 716-4672. We want to hear from you!


MilesPerHour said...

Being the person of minority doesn't necessarily mean it has to be racial. I have many times been the minority in a number of situations in my life despite being "white".

I do know that we get into so many situations where we have to be mindful of what we say. I tend to just take it as it comes for the most part because most of the time when I was the minority "butt of the jokes" nothing was meant by it.

Just being in an interracial relationship for some time now that there will always be the potential of someone putting their foot in their mouth.

Tami said...

You're right, MPH. One can be white and be the minority in a given situation, BUT there is a unique dynamic that applies to people of color in a culture that assumes the supremacy of whiteness. Even when you are the minority, I maintain that you are the dominant culture with the privileges attached to that.

Anonymous said...

Somebody once quoted Alice Walker who said, "never be the only one" in any given friendship group.

I've never once been honored or heard in straight groups. Straight people have an incredible way of erasing lesbian existence even when you are right there in front of them.

We have a long way to go before everyone can drop the masks and be real selves in mixed groups.

Lady C said...

People become too comfortable in their relationships in that they believe they can say and do anything at the expense of the other person in the relationship.

My for instance is, I don't like smutty jokes. When someone is about to say something offensive, if they don't know me, I walk away before it offends me. If the person does know me, they take the joke away from my space so that I cannot hear it. I appreciate the gesture.

However, there are those who just have to try to get away with any and everything. These people are not sensitive to you or anyone else. These people are who they are, and there is no defending them.

Anonymous said...

I can totally relate Lady C, thanks for telling this. If you are offended by things and people deliberately say them anyway, these folks are not friends!

Anonymous said...

i agree with what your saying about interracial friendships. there's no question of me being friends with racist people, so what bothers me most are liberal whites who just don't "get it." when they worry about racism its about the weirdest things that i don't worry about, but they fail to see their racial privileges and why minorities as groups are oppressed.

there are some dynamics that might be inevitable in the majority/minority friendships. i can't expect everyone to stop talking about their interests and talk about mine, if i'm the only person there with those interests. but sometimes i think people don't even put in the effort, and when they do, gosh they're wrong on so many levels!! and then if minorities mix with people of their background, we're blamed for "self segregating."

i also don't get why privileged people complain so much about being "PC." for me there's no such thing as PC because i really believe in equality and respect, and i say what i mean. but even if someone is ignorant, what's the huge deal about not doing things that many others consider disrespectful? is it too much to ask for mindfulness from people who're enjoying many more privileges?

nooriana said...

friendship.. I love it


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