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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 19: Trust (Keisha L. Green)


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· 19 ·


Keisha L. Green

On March 14, 2016, I pulled into the driveway of my Northampton, Massachusetts, apartment enthralled by a Northeast Public Radio interview with women’s studies scholar, Patricia Bell-Scott, about her recent national best-selling book, The Firebrand and the First Lady—Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice. With the engine still running, I parked my car, listening intently to the fascinating but complex relationship between a highly accomplished Black woman civil rights activist and one of the most well-known first ladies of the United States. I happen to know the exact date of this particular memory because the story, penned by Bell-Scott, compelled me to create a cell-phone memo with notes about the instructive power and lessons learned from an interracial and intergenerational relationship between two dynamic women. The story resonated deeply with me because of my own experience with cross-race/cultural and intergenerational relationships. I was learning about this remarkable “portrait of a friendship” between two history makers during Women’s History Month just days after International Women’s Day during one of our country’s potentially historic (and ultimately bizarre) presidential campaigns, featuring Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, at the time, was projected to be the first U.S. woman president. ← 211 | 212 →

The epistolary relationship between the two women, Murray and Roosevelt, was intersectional as it simultaneously centered and traversed race, class, and age. I sat intrigued by this seemingly uncommon...

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