The single best antidote to prejudice and racism? Cross-race friendship
Since I won’t be able to go home this Thanksgiving, I’ll be trading my blood cross-racial family for my close friends’ cross-racial family.
I’m looking forward to spending the holiday with loved ones regardless, but Dr. Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton points out in his article “This holiday, a toast to cross-race friendship,” that we’ll also be engaging in the most effective anti-prejudice activity that exists. He notes that:
Cross-group friendship is powerful– so powerful, in fact, that it has even been shown to reduce animosity among Catholics and Protestants in Ireland who have lost loved ones as a result of conflict. So powerful, in fact, that its effects on prejudice are contagious: if you have a friend who has a cross-race friend, and you learn about that friendship, your own level of prejudice is likely to be reduced!
He also notes that cross-racial friendships are still exceedingly rare. So perhaps it’s no surprise that both myself and my cross-race friend both hail from mixed race families. But the benefits of building these bridges can go a long way toward expanding our own personal identities. Mendoza-Denton continues that:
…when we make cross-race friends, we begin to integrate them into our own self-concept– or put, simply, we see them as part of ourselves. This happens naturally as we grow closer to others– their joys and sorrows are literally our own, we feel their pain, we feel proud about their achievements. It’s part of a natural process called self-expansion.
And it can happen across the racial divide.
So lets take joy in expanding our notions of who can be our family and our friends this holiday season.