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UnCommon Bonds

Women Reflect on Race and Friendship

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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.

For more information, please visit: www.uncommonbondsbook.com

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Chapter 13: A Joyful Dance Between Friends: The Story of Our Hindu–Muslim, Jewish–Christian Friendship (Mira Sengupta / Samantha González-Block)

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A JOYFUL DANCE BETWEEN FRIENDS

The Story of Our Hindu–Muslim, Jewish–Christian Friendship

Mira Sengupta and Samantha González-Block

Introduction

Living in a post-secular, post-9/11 world of increased religious diversity and conflict, where various cultures and races violently clash together on the global stage, it is more pressing than ever to find positive ways of interacting across boundaries and borders. In today’s fraught world, Mahatma Gandhi’s words feel especially relevant: “We must respect other religions, even as we respect our own. Mere tolerance thereof is not enough.” If there is ever hope for significant positive change on a grand scale, it must begin first on the smallest scale—our communities, our own lives, our friends. This is why we want to share our story. Perhaps by shedding light on our journey of deep-seated friendship that flourished across racial, religious, and cultural difference, we can offer a slice of guidance and glimmer of hope that a more united, positive society is indeed at our fingertips.

We first crossed paths within the confines of a long, rectangular, faded bathroom mirror that was hanging above the sinks in our dormitory’s yellow-tiled bathroom at Barnard College in New York City. Both of us were newly minted freshman, busy readying our faces for our very first college party. Our approaches couldn’t have been more different. A meticulous Mira ← 129 | 130 → carefully outlined her dark almond eyes with black...

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