Okay, that title was a bit specific for shock value, but what I meant to title it is, “The Importance of Having Non-Black Friends.” You might not think making friends outside of your comfort zone makes much of a difference to your life, but you would be wrong. A collection of friends from other races and cultures can change pretty much every aspect of your life.
I’ve been encouraging black women to cross color lines for a decade. I was met with much resistance at first. Dating and marrying non-black men? Unthinkable. My, how things have changed. Now more than ever before in American history black women are intermarrying and finding happiness. Still, there are hoards of black women who still find it difficult to connect with non-black men and a common reason is that of the general suspicion and contempt black women have of particularly white women. Black women think they can be open to dating men in isolation of their sisters, mothers, cousins, and friends. Newsflash: You won’t get far swirling if you can’t stand the women connected to the men you wish to connect with.
While opening up your dating and mating options globally means you’ll have a wider pool of competition, it doesn’t mean that none of them are willing to put in a good word to their friends, brothers, or relatives about the really cute black girl they met at the Junior League gala.
So many black women make the mistake of thinking all they have to do is get an education and a good job and just do the work and go home. Then when promotions come around, they are bitter and befuddled about why they aren’t considered. It may not be “fair,” but the most successful people aren’t necessarily the hardest working. Those annoying coworkers who always go to all the parties, retreats and after-hours bar crawl but do half the work you do get more favorable reviews, recognition, and promotions. Why? Because they know how to schmooze. A necessary element in the corporate matrix. Want to be successful at work? Stop staying late and learn to play well with others.
According to research, black people are the least likely to invest. Whites invest in the stock market at 86%, while blacks do so at 67%. This is a rise from 60%, but still, that’s pretty low. In a capitalist society, wealth perpetuates itself. Those in the know keep a circle of associates in the know. They golf together, travel to the same places, eat at the same restaurants, go to the same parties and charity events. If you’re a savvy black woman, you’ll work to insinuate yourself into these circles and learn the ways of the rich, and finally see the Trickle-Down Theory work for a change.
Isolating yourself from other races and cultures gives you a pretty myopic worldview and communication style. The world has become smaller and it becomes more essential than ever to understand how to be culturally fluid. Just like being bilingual, knowledge of other cultures gives you more power and opportunity.
In short, it pays to be open, have a variety of friends, and have a healthy curiosity of other people around you outside your tribe. It can make life exceedingly more interesting.