Ever since I can remember, all of my closest friends have been black. Whether it was intentional or subconsciously done, I’ve always been more amicable with people who, in a sense, looked like me. It wasn’t until college that I befriended people of different races. When I would tell people this, they were dumbfounded, and it made me wonder, why haven’t I branched out?
Whether you’re eating at a restaurant, shopping downtown or hanging out with your own group of friends, it’s hard not to notice that many of us tend to stick to “our own.” So, why is it so hard for us to break the mold?
From my own experience I can say that it was assumption. Because we looked the same I assumed we liked the same things and did the same things. Most people tend to have this idea. The truth is that although we hate to be stereotyped by other races we often tend to stereotype our own. We determine a person’s traits and characteristics simply by looking at them. I think it’s safe to assume that this theory isn’t necessarily true.
There is also the idea that some find it intimidating to make racially diverse friends. I’ve had people tell me that they were hesitant to get to know me because they thought I preferred to be around black people. Even though it was far from the truth I couldn’t blame them. We all remember a time when we were placed in the uncomfortable situation of making new friends. It is an intimidating feeling in itself. But what made it more overwhelming was the feeling that you didn’t belong. It was easier to look for something familiar and relatable.
What is also intimidating is playing the role of the newcomer. When people already have a set group of friends, joining the circle feels like invading the territory. We have to be conscious of what we do and walk around eggshells. Most of it is an insecurity we create in our minds to guard ourselves from difference.
When it comes to race, most of us look for the differences instead of the similarities. We sometimes assume that color defines personality. The fault is not taking the initiative of getting to know someone before you judge them. Because of this, most of us live life on the defensive towards other cultures. So how exactly do we solve this?
Talk to someone. Anyone, it doesn’t matter whom. Communication is essential in solving misconceptions and confusion. Look for the similarities inside rather than out. Many of you would be happy to find that looking past these irrational assumptions can produce great, life-long friends.