By Andrea Michelle
As January rolls to a close, I find it hard not to reflect on the list of 2011 resolutions proudly tacked to the new vision board above my desk. Next to the shiny magazine cut-outs and you-go-girl inspirational words is my list of things to accomplish for this year – ramp up that fitness regimen I’ve been talking about since before Thanksgiving, read one new book a month, cook meals at home at least four times a week. Sensible, measured, actionable. But, based on recent conversations I think it appropriate to add one more unconventionally bold goal to the checklist for 2011: get white friends.
My friendship circle and extended cohort is dynamic. We shut the scene down with our academic achievements, professional accomplishments, discerning tastes and worldly endeavors. We strive for excellence in all that we do; we settle for nothing less than the best and provide unwavering encouragement for each others’ goals. Yet, with all of our bar-setting and back-patting, we have fallen exceptionally short in one area that I think is essential for the sustainable true progression of the black professional: a network that is not only dynamic but also is both culturally and racially diverse.
I suspect my friends and I are not alone. Perhaps it is because of similar psychological and sociological constructs that shape Beverly Daniel Tatum’s analysis in Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race or maybe even W.E.B. Du Bois’ theory of double-consciousness in The Souls of Black Folk, but in my opinion, the broader black upwardly mobile cross section of America trends toward the incestuous and insular. This is by no means an admonishment of the rich tapestry of collective strides the black community has made together; it is simply a cultural critique of how to make us even hotter for 2011. After all, a new decade should mean a new level to the game.
Westside Connection got it wrong when they said, “Gangstas make the world go ‘round.” No, boo, white people do. And we all know what having white friends can get us: emancipation, the right to vote, Trader Joes, discount luxury brand shopping, premium coffee, 4G, 3D, free range chicken, recycling, CEO appointments and the Presidency. So, here goes my take on a litmus test for your own friendship politics…