Nashville-raised English professor publishes essay compilation on the complexities of interracial friendships
"In the introduction to Some of My Best Friends: Writings on Interracial Friendships, editor Emily Bernard writes about her experiences growing up in Nashville as a black bourgeois kid with mostly white friends. Born in 1967, she found herself maintaining a difficult balance between her integrated world and the life lessons of her parents, particularly those of her mother."
"'All 16 of the essays in this book reflect people - black, white, Hispanic, Asian - doing just that, finding their way through interracial friendships. Bernard has pondered this phenomenon for most of her life. 'Which ingredients make interracial friendships possible?' she writes. 'Which factors destroy them? At what point does unintentional racial ungainliness become willful racial insensitivity? What do other people do at those moments when racial difference rears its head uncomfortably?'"
"Not all the essays, however, are about successful interactions, and if Bernard had had her way, there would have been even more of these. 'One group I was interested in hearing from was white male conservatives,' she says. 'I was really disappointed not to successfully convince any of the numbers of them I wrote to, to participate.' Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Sandra Guzman, a journalist, writes of her exclusively non-white circle of friends in 'Gringo Reservations.' It is a choice borne out of a lifetime of unpleasant experiences with the white girls across the street and with her freshman-year roommates. She writes: 'One should not have to walk on eggshells among friends, I think. One should not have to translate one's essence, either.'"