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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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Foreword (Sonia Nieto)


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Sonia Nieto

As is abundantly clear from the chapters in this book, forming and sustaining friendships across racial, cultural, generational, and other social differences is not easy. Reading these narratives helped me reflect on the friendships I’ve had over the years, some with Puerto Rican women like me, and others with women of different backgrounds. Given the communities in which I’ve lived—Brooklyn for most of my youth and young adulthood, Manhattan for a year shortly after I married, Queens for three years as a young wife and mother, and for the past 40-plus years, a small town in Massachusetts—I realized that although my friendships have been quite diverse, the closest ones have often been with other Puerto Rican women. I remember a day a couple of decades ago after a particularly thorny racial incident in town when I was asked to address an assembly in our local high school. After speaking with the students about the significance of cross-racial and cross-cultural friendships, a student asked me, “Who are your best friends?” I’ve always counted a very diverse group among my closest friendships. But the question made me think more deeply about this issue. I answered that my closest friend was another Puerto Rican woman and that my other close friends were African American, Jewish, Italian American, and women of other backgrounds. What we had in common was that most of us now living in Massachusetts had been raised in ← xi...

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