Below is an excerpt from a new interview with me, by Santilla Chingaipe, published on ABC Life.
“Research shows that white people do not have many racial minority friends,” says Sydney-based applied sociologist Zuleyka Zevallos. Dr Zevallos points to one US study that found for the average white person, over 90 per cent of their social networks are also white. “And the average white person will only have one Black friend, one Asian friend, or whatever.” […]
“One of the areas where friendships are less explicit is around race,” Dr Zevallos says. “There are lots of norms about race that people bring into their friendships, but by virtue of being a racial minority, Aboriginal people, and other people of colour who are migrant and refugee background people, will be more aware and have spent a lot more time thinking about these things.” […]
What happens when friends don’t want to engage with conversations around race? Dr Zevallos says that is indicative of how narrowly race is understood in Australia.
“It allows them [white people] to opt out whenever they feel like it. When they get tired and they don’t want to think about the benefits of the way society is organised around race,” she says.
So, what does a healthy interracial friendship look like? Dr Zevallos says it requires all parties to do the work. But for racial minorities, she argues that includes placing boundaries on friendships.
“Nobody, especially racial minorities, should be expected to be educating people one-on-one on race when there are millions of free resources online,” she says. “Just as we learn to drive or just as we learn new skills … if we’re not willing to make the time to learn about race, then I would probably say that we do not deserve to have the benefits — the warmth, the love that comes from interracial friendships — until we’re willing to do that work.”
Read more on ABC Life.