In this racially-charged climate, bridging this great divide have never seemed more necessary. The first place we can head to tackle the race conversation is in the intimate presence of our girlfriends. We may not all be actively involved in a social movement, but ethnically diverse friendships are a microcosm of the world at large, and how we navigate these little worlds can set the tone for others. This week, we asked your advice on what to say (or not say) in mixed company.
Here is your girl code:
Do Say It Like It Is
If you can’t discuss the truth about stereotypes amongst your bestie, there’s little hope for the world at large. Especially amongst the closest to you, have the courage to have those uncomfortable talks, and breakdown the stereotypes and prejudices one courageous conversation at a time.
Don’t Use The Lingo
We understand you want to get on the same level as your girlfriend, but do not start adapting her accent or her lingo. Colloquialisms belong to a specific group of people–let it belong to them! It’s the language of their culture, and their way of expressing themselves in the world. So, if you didn’t grow up with those words, don’t go “dropping-it-like-it’s-hot,” cause it’s not. Word?
Do Be Your Authentic Self
True in every facet of life, but perhaps the most true in a mixed group, represent yourself the way you are. Don’t adjust for the sake of the group, or we’ll never learn how to authentically coexist. Speak your truth ladies.
Don’t Pretend We’re All The Same
Yes, we’re all human. And yes, we have our humanity in common. As hard as we try to relate to people different from ourselves, the truth is we’ve all been raised in a radically different experience, and that experience deserves consideration and respect. Trying to relate to your friends’s particular struggle, when you’ve had the privilege of living outside of it, may come off as a slap in the face. So just be present, ask questions, and look for common ground. But always, always, respect the difference.
Do Ask Questions
If you can’t ask your friend a seemingly taboo question what’s the point of the friendship? When it comes to bridging gaps, cultural or interpersonal, the greatest deterrence can be making assumptions. If there’s any part of you that wonders if it’s right or wrong to do or say something, just keep it real and ask. Don’t shy away from the opportunity to have these potentially expansive conversations.
Don’t Touch The Hair
Pointing out physical differences, even in a complimentary way, may not be the best way to gain the confidence of a newfound friend. Sometimes ethnic differences can be intriguing, but before you reach out and touch your girl’s new do, at the very least, ask… and be prepared to hear the word “no.”
Do Realize You Are Not Speaking To A Spokesperson For The Entire Race
If you want to dig deeper into race dialogues, do realize that your black, asian, latino, or even Australian friend, is not the United Nations representative for this particular ethnic group. Form your questions in a way that makes your girl feel like you value her particular opinion, or her personal experience in the world. Most people will be willing to share, but not everyone wants to (nor should they have to) speak for their entire race.