There’s nothing like having a best friend that shares your viewpoints, your perspective, and possibly knows you better than you know yourself. You know the saying “birds of a feather, flock together”….if this is always the case, then chances are there aren’t contrasting views and varied opinions in your “flock.”

We’re living in a climate of increased racial sensitivity. The racial divide and overt racism that has reared its head in our political process, justice system, and sadly in our everyday interactions with one another must be challenged and reconciled. It’s in times like these that everyone needs to extend their reach to someone of another race.

We’ve witnessed the race-baiting being thrown around in this Election, the racial tensions after the Trayvon Martin tragedy, and the constant misconceptions of racial identity across the board. We cannot afford to sit on the sideline and watch as America deteriorates along racial lines.

Racism is America’s original sin and it serves as a detriment to all Americans — the ones that came over on the Mayflower and the ones that came over on the Clotilde, and everyone in between. I won’t pretend we’re living in a “post racial” society…but it is within reach. Naturally when racial tension arises, people tend to align themselves with people who look and act like them. It’s a comfort zone. A comfort zone that must be broken in order for America to truly reach a post racial society.

As a proud product of a HBCU, an upbringing in predominantly black environments, and as a community loyalist…. I’ve enjoyed a cushy comfort zone. That is until I challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone.I can testify that breaking out of my comfort zone has increased my knowledge, broadened my perspective and soothed my spiritual well-being. Consciously or unconsciously holding onto negative stereotypes and resentment toward racism, sexism or any “ism” manifests a spirit of inferiority. I’ve found that cultivating diverse relationships, having the difficult conversations about racial differences and being willing to challenge your own viewpoints will change your outlook and life experiences for the better. Comfort zones tend to keep your viewpoint one-sided, your outlook tainted, and your life experiences hampered. Breaking out of your comfort zone is not to be confused with “fitting in.”

Simply put, breaking out of your comfort zone presents you with 2 options: stay within your comfort zone (seek out people that you most identify with and surround yourself with them) OR carve out a new path toward diversifying your friends, your surroundings, and most importantly your perspective. We share a world with people of all stripes and all walks of life…Now more than ever, we must challenge ourselves and each other to branch out and explore friendship outside of our race.

Have you broken out of your racial comfort zone Cluthchettes?

Krystal Glass is the Host and Moderator of a series of thought-provoking dialogues held in Washington, DC with the aim of strengthening the black community through open forum conversations and interactive workshops.

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  • Seriously who goes around saying I need to make friends of a different race? Thats not how you choose friends, that’s how you make mistakes.

  • WOW, this is such a loaded subject for me and I am still trying to sort it out. I grew up in a predominantly white school in a diverse city. I found these early years of my life shaped my experience and my life outlook on different races for the better and worse. My friends were mostly white and I only had a few as I was the shy in school and my cultural background was different. I found that besides my white besties, most of my other classmates AND TEACHERS were not as accepting to me as they pretended. As long as I was joking and clowning around they could accept me for a good laugh. However when they saw how I excelled in the classroom, I was often condescended by other “smart” peers and even the teachers my parents entrusted me with. I even had a neighbor who I played Barbie with, who always invited me to play at her house yet she would only would play with me on my front steps and never come in (my house was twice the size of hers btw).
    I had a friend invite me to her house for dinner where she and her mother laughed in my face when I requested to take home some of the food they were forcing on me. Did they expect me to sit there and consume every last dish they put in front of me? In mine and many other cultures it is an INSULT NOT to take food home. Cultural understanding was seriously lacking.
    As for crushes and romance, I noticed in middle school and jr high, black girls were not major candidates for dating. If a white boy, especially a popular one interacted with me, all the snooty white girls would stare and make incredulous comments. If that wasn’t bad enough, the few black boys in my school were always trying to get with those snooty white girls and Spanish girls. By the time I got to High School I made friends with 2 other black girls and we were real close. I enjoyed having friends as people who identified with me and who I didn’t have to be questioned or othered around.

    By the time I got to college, all my friends except for a few were fellow Children of the African Diaspora, from Africa, the Caribbean, America, Gyanna and I finally felt at home in our shared experience. My experience growing up really made me skeptical of close friendships and relations with whites. I knew how to act and navigate all white situations and have everybody love me. At the same time it was like wearing a mask that reflects their own whiteness and white values. It was not til I read Frants Fanon’s “Black Skin, White Mask” that I realized this phenomenon of racial masquerading was an issue for all my bros and sisters in white environments.

    Overall, I am not racist, just weary. I don’t want to have to explain why I sleep with a scarf on my head at night or why my hair is inches longer one week to the next. I want friends, not people I have to teach an anthropology class to. This includes love relationships. Relationships are based on mutual understanding but where it is lopsided it is no longer enjoyable.

  • Ange B

    I have found in my experience with my circle of friends is being Canadian and living in a large city. Most of my friends and myself are first generation Canadians. All of our parents came from all over the globe but we were born in Canada. And in that we all have found similar experiences in dealing with mainstream culture vs the culture we had at home. Whether from the Africa, Carribbean, MIddle East, South East Asia, we all have similarities and differences and at least in my circle of friends we seem to like to share. At the same time too it is good to have a friend who is the same as you background wise. Makes for explaining some things not necessary and shared experiences. At least for myself having friends that are Black and non Black work.

  • Mina

    Technically, I don’t have any friends outside my race because I’m all mixed up lol. But I have more Asian and mixed friends than black, etc. All my white and black friends are guys. All my latina friends are girls obviously lol. All my asian and mixed friends are girls too. But I don’t have any African-American girl friends. I have 3 African girlfriends but no African-American girl friends. And I have a couple of white girl friends but I tend to stay away from white girls because they say or ask me a lot of ignorant questions or just talk too much. Just from my experience. I stay away from girls until I can trust them because I hate girls who talk about people behind their back and act like cowards and that’s mostly what I’ve experienced from American girls of all races. I wish I had more Middle Eastern and Indian friends. I don’t really want any white girl friends unless they understand where I’m coming from and don’t stereotype/generalize but I wish I had some really cool, down to earth white girl friends but they’re hard to find.

  • This is a interesting topic. I went to school with 99% white students. Being the only black girl in my grade had it’s challenges. I would not change a thing, I think my experiences prepared me for the work world. Since I graduated undergrad and graduate school I have always been the only African American in my office (I think I represent well). I working higher education and I think my student feel such a since of relief when they see me. Some of my closes friends are white and the commonality is that we share similar interest. For me what I learned is that I can be myself and I should appreciate and respect those who are different. I also learned that in any culture/race there are people that are ignorant and crazy, there are people that I’ll will get a long with and some that I won’t and that is true for African American’s, White, Latina, Asian…. For met is about the person not the color of their skin.
    RT- my white girl friend will fight for me faster then some of my black girl friends :) and that’s why I love her.