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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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Introduction (Kersha Smith / Marcella Runell Hall)


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Kersha Smith and Marcella Runell Hall

It was never our intention to edit a book advocating for cross-racial friendship among women. In fact, asking others to write about their friendships came with some apprehension. Putting together a collection of stories about the complex, intimate relationships between women that provide sanctity and sacred spaces for reflection and growth is tricky business. We treasure our friendships and fiercely guard them. Amplifying race as a lens by which to think about our friendships was perhaps an even bigger risk. Inviting women to reflect honestly on what friendship and race mean to them was loaded, and we knew that. However, we felt that posing questions and compiling stories could provide important insight into relationships that are not easily defined.

We also did not want to edit a book that privileged a particular narrative. We guarded against positioning the book as a collective Kumbaya moment. That felt false to us because we understood the deep fissures that often get swept under the rug and outright ignored in relationships that fail to acknowledge the history of racism and the vibrancy of privilege. Fixating on the challenges of cross-racial friendships didn’t do it for us either. We considered that inauthentic to our experiences. Yes, we could recall instances where racial privilege went unchecked, resentment built up, and relationships dissolved. We retell these stories with clear fault and uncomplicated characters. Except those are not true portrayals of relationships....

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