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UnCommon Bonds

Women Reflect on Race and Friendship


Edited By Kersha Smith and Marcella Runell Hall

UnCommon Bonds is a collection of essays written by women representing multiple identities; all uniquely addressing the impactful experiences of race, ethnicity, and friendship in the context of the United States. The essays unapologetically explore the challenges of developing and maintaining cross-racial friendships between women. A primary goal of this book is to resist simplifying cross-racial friendships. Instinctively, the editors believe that there is a unique joy and pain in these relationships that is rarely easy to summarize. The essays reflect narratives that challenge assumptions, disclose deep interpersonal struggles, and celebrate the complex sisterhood between women across racial lines.

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Chapter 1: Of My Purple Life (Joicelyn Dingle)


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Joicelyn Dingle

Sisterhood among women is an honor I take seriously. I cherish those “women only” moments that happen even when you meet a new one. Those colorless notes that give the impression, maybe we—Black and white—can “be women and be friends.” This is a sophisticated connection. I desire my friendships with all women to vibrate high and authentically with wisdom, humor, and mutual benefit. Cultural confusion, insensitivity, and disregard are the chances one takes when race is at hand. The sophisticated part comes upon deciding who is integral to the journey and who is not. What will you go through with a woman of another race and discern when it is beneficial to remain connected and open?

Being the daughter of people whose formative years were shaped through segregation and the civil rights movement, I am not a person who claims not to see color. People who claim such nonsense get the proverbial side-eye. Girlhood bonding in my Black neighborhood growing up in the 1980s was more like a rite of passage perfecting rhythmic cheers and hand games, a roller skating crew, personalizing the latest dances, committing to Janet Jackson video routines, choosing with your soul between Michael Jackson or Prince and the flyest b-boys. It was a Black thing, a time when our culture was still a mystery and solely ours. ← 7 | 8 →

White people didn’t ask to...

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