*We may hear about America now being a post-racial society, but just look at some of the friendship circles and what do you see. Starting with your own, most of those friends look like you right? That’s the look of segregation, y’all.
A recent study conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 91 percent of the average white American’s friends are white, and just 1 percent of their friends are black. And yes, black Americans may have a more diverse social network, but they don’t fare much better. The average African American has 83 percent black friends, 8 percent white friends, two percent Latino friends, zero Asian friends, and three percent mixed-race friends.
According to one of the most glaring statistics from the study, 75 percent of white Americans are exclusively friends with other white Americans.
All in all, the Washington Post put it simply: “Blacks have ten times as many black friends as white friends. But white Americans have an astonishing 91 times as many white friends as black friends.”
“What I think is clear is as Americans, or as people in general, you look to people who are similar to you, have similar interests, live in the same area [and] maybe work at the same place,” said Jezebel staff writer Hillary Crosley, who added that she is “not surprised” by the stats.
Crosley, wrote a piece about the report urging white people to diversify their social networks, and explained the benefits of befriending those who come from another racial background.
“The whole point is, if you have friends of different ethnicities, you won’t be so surprised when things like a Mike Brown happen,” she said. “It’s about communication through different cultures so that you actually know what’s happening, not necessarily just something that you saw from the Internet. ”
Author Rob Smith added his own interpretation of the statistics, emphasizing the way that they reflect white privilege in America.
“It’s literally sometimes about sheer numbers. Here’s the thing: Black people are going to have more non-black friends because most of us have to exist in a world that is very, very white,” he said. “But when you’re a white person you can literally surround yourself with all other white people because that’s what’s comfortable. That’s a privilege that white people have, and it’s something that black people don’t have.”
I totally agree with Rob Smith. Additionally, me, as a black woman who grew up initially in the segregated south, before moving to New York City in the 1960s, I could have easily become acclimated to a more segregated social network; or an inability to be less comfortable with people who didn’t look like me. But things like my nontraditional religion, which attracts people from diverse races and socio-economic backgrounds, and traveling the world affected this change.
I also believe that people who travel the world have a different sensibility when it comes to race. Its not that race and racism is not recognized for what it is, I believe world travelers have a greater worldview, and with that, these people have an ability to go beyond race and look deeper into character.