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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

“What does it take to forge and maintain a truly authentic, mutual, life-giving and soul-satisfying friend-ship across lines of race and ethnicity? «UnCommon Bonds» speaks to this question through a diverse collection of women’s narratives, powerful in both their honesty and critical analysis. The transformational possibility they offer is a gift—I recommend you open it!” Beverly Tatum, President Emerita, Spelman College, and author of «Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations on Race»

“Women telling our own stories is an important pathway to liberation. Healing from the trauma of racism, particularly in the context of intimate relationships, is a challenging but often necessary part of peace building efforts. «UnCommon Bonds» has opened the door and invited us to the table for a long overdue conversation.” Leymah Gbowee, peace activist and winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize

“«UnCommon Bonds» is just the book we need to read right now. The 2016 Presi-dential campaign revealed deep fissures across and between women along racial lines that captured news headlines. This collection of essays, however, gets to the heart of uncommon bonds—those bonds of deep friendship between women across race. Race matters. It bonds, and it breaks. In essays that shift seamlessly from the personal and the systemic, «UnCommon Bonds» shows how central love, trust, and commitment are to navigating broader systems informing sisterhood and race. These beautiful and brave accounts move beyond simplistic assumptions to uncover the messy and meaningful dynamics of interracial friendships between women.” Nitasha Tamar Sharma, Associate Professor, African American Studies and Asian American Studies, Northwestern University, and author of «Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Racial Consciousness»

“Female friendship has long lived in the shadows. This book shines a light on the joy and challenge of the intimate risk of cross-racial friendship. Its powerful, passionate stories share hard-won wisdom, mak-ing this book a gift to students and friends alike.” Rachel Simmons, author of «Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls»

“When we are willing to speak our truth, listen with an open heart, and accept that race cannot be a hands off subject in a cross-racial friendship, a deeper bond can be allowed to grow. The brutally honest essays of «UnCommon Bonds» offer us the courage to ask more of ourselves and our relationships.” Karyn Parsons, actress/producer and founder of Sweet Blackberry

“At a time in history where hate, violence, and division have returned us, full speed, to pre–Civil Rights America, along comes this remarkable and bridge-building anthology, «UnCommon Bonds». From the Women’s March to the #MeToo movement, from Barack Obama to Donald Trump, from Black Lives Matter to intersectionality, this is a collection of unapologetically free writings from some of the most visionary leaders and thinkers in the world today. Read them, hear them, feel them, and be prepared to follow them, too, because their hope and challenges are the path to our wokeness, and our salvation.” Kevin Powell, author of «The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey to Manhood»

“Kersha Smith and Marcella Runell Hall have curated a touching set of essays that invite us to think with nuance about the challenges and rewards of interracial and cross-cultural friendships. The works bristle with honesty, dig-ging deep into the challenges of forming rare ‘uncommon bonds’ of sisterhood across differences that are not merely descriptive, but imbricated in the asymmetrical power relations that shape the world we share. If you are looking for a rousing chorus of Kumbaya, look elsewhere—this book reveals the complicated, difficult, self-reflective, and transformative work that makes it possible for adult women to call some few true loves, sista-friends.” Deva Woodly-Davis, Associate Professor of Politics, The New School, and author of «The Politics of Common Sense»

“«UnCommon Bonds is a brave, thoughtful, complicated and honest examination of the challenges and rewards of building and sustaining authentic cross-race friendships. The book examines the issue in a range of creative and engaging ways—through autobiographical narratives, essays, dialogues, letters and critical social analysis linked to personal experience. The result is a provocative and urgent exploration of why this effort can be so hard, as well as a testament to how life affirming and essential cross-race relationships can be. Unlike other books that focus only on cross-race alliances between women of color and white women, this book also looks at the challenges and opportunities in the bonds created among women of color from diverse racial groups. Further, it attends to the in-tersections of class, gender, generation, transnational location and other aspects of identity that impact such rela-tionships—all the while keeping race central to the dialogue. The book offers breathtaking honesty and coura-geous truth telling from women of color about the damage white ignorance and cowardice can do to relation-ships—even within multiracial families. It also offers a wake-up call and some excellent modeling for white women about the commitment, humility, self-reflection and vulnerability necessary for being trustworthy partners/allies to women of color. The writing is vivid, strong and deeply moving with many powerful lessons to offer readers who struggle to create meaningful relationships across race. The hard-won knowledge reflected in this book is a gift to us all.” Lee Anne Bell, Professor Emerita, Barnard College, and author of «Storytelling for Social Justice: Connecting Narrative and the Arts in Antiracist Teaching»

“Into a cultural landscape sorely lacking in representations of cross-racial friendships between women, «UnCom-mon Bonds» arrives as both revelation and gift—an uncommonly candid, nuanced guide to nurturing those bonds in the name of personal growth and social justice.” Emily Lordi, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and author of «Black Resonance: Iconic Women Singers and African American Literature» and «Donny Hathaway Live»