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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 10: Dear Sis/Love, Sis (Felice Belle / Anne Murphy)


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Felice Belle and Anne Murphy

Context: As creative writers, and lovers of the lost art of letter writing, we decided to write a series of letters—exploring milestones in our friendship and why race seems to be the least discussed and, perhaps, least compelling part. We wanted to explore how we were able to move from a “surface friendship,” or one in which there is little or no deep exploration of each person, to a friendship that is deeply meaningful.


(Anne 1)

Dear Sis,

Lately I wonder why we so rarely talk about race. Of all the subjects in the wheelhouse of our friendship—men, writing, work, “social media cutting,” as you call it when one of us is eavesdropping on another’s virtual life—how is it that I am white and you are Black so rarely arises in our conversations?

For almost twenty years you have been the person I talk to more often than anyone on earth. So often our friends and family have come to call us sisters. I loved how, during Christmas in the Bronx with your family, your brother hugged me and said, “Any best friend of my sister’s is a sister of mine.” ← 91 | 92 → I felt like I belonged, though of course I was the only white person in the living room. It didn’t matter.

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