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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 4: Filiation (Nelle Mills)


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Nelle Mills

To my Mother, who refuses to see (and maybe all white mothers raising black or brown children):

Mom, You don’t see me. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, but at sometime along the way, I stopped becoming real to you, three dimensional. I wonder if you ever really saw me. After all, you always said I was so much like my dad you felt like you were fighting with him. I want you to see me, and I want to see you, more clearly than I do now. I don’t know if it’s because you fail to see me and my siblings as Black or because you refuse to recognize your own privilege as a white woman. Whatever the reason, I am becoming unrecognizable to you. Like a transition shot in a student film, every time you see me, I become more and more blurry.

I have to write to you because words between us are like dynamite. I don’t know how many more fights I can recover from. How quickly words between us turn to rockets launched with no direction. Quiet is not possible with you. I have tried biting my tongue until I taste only copper and hate. I love you, but I love me more and that is why I can’t allow you to say and do things I would never tolerate from any other person, particularly any other white...

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