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Monday, July 18, 2011

Interracial Friendship: How do we learn?

I continue to be amazed by the huge response to the topic of interracial friendship and how to talk to our children about difference. An excerpt from one reader's post expresses concern about discussing the topic because while children are inquisitive adults shouldn’t be asking questions:

“Let me explain. First, children are very inquisitive. They are constantly in search of knowledge and basic understandings about life. Hence, asking questions or differentiating between two things, helps them make sense of their world. Without this ability, children will not be able to learn right/wrong, appropriate/inappropriate. While asking, "if you are black?" may seem like a harmful question, I think given the context, it may have just been an exploratory question that could have been a teachable moment, not only for your kids, but for the person asking the question.

However, I think question asking should be only be for children. I have no idea why adults are asking questions that aren't even relevant, such as "Is that your real hair?" That question is loaded and not even important. Questions like that, I feel, are inappropriate. As an adult, we should ask questions that are appropriate given the context. I dislike when people assume "you do things differently" because of your skin color. I dislike assumptions that are made, and then carried out through questions. Specifically questions that originate from stereotypes, which I think most adults seek to confirm/disconfirm through question asking. People should think first, "Am I asking a question that is based upon a stereotype?," "Am I making assumptions?," "Is this question relevant?" IF not, the question should not be asked.”

I think the reader raises very good points. A few questions: SHOULD adults just know better? How do you address the fact that even in 2011 many people grow up in segregated environments and may not know much about peoples of other ethnicities? What do you all think? Also, what resources have you all used to educate yourselves about difference? Any resources you’d recommend for children?


  1. Some colleges have programs that connect families with international students for a year.

    Also good togo to other neighborhoods to shop, eat and attend cultural events.

    Visit a church that has different demographics than our regular place of worship

    Also be intentional about visiting disabled, elderly and others who are not seen enough.

  2. Hi a donovan! What great ideas! Have you ever participated in one of the college programs or do you know of anyone who has? I love the idea! I also have an idea is to have a domestic student where students with different backgrounds (e.g., socioeconomic status, ethnicity, etc.) live with each others' families for a period of time. Do you ever go to churches with different demographics? I feel that that is part of God's purpose for my life: to join churches that are different than me on multiple levels to help build bridges in the Body of Christ. Good point about visiting the elderly and disabled. So many people communities are virtually invisible and we can work to change that. Thanks for your comments!