You can't be friends with a black girl?

Image by Maria Echeverry.

When Silvia and I became best friends, it was a little strange for me. Up until sixth grade I had only befriended black kids because those were the type of people in my environment. I connected with them culturally. We had similar hair textures, listened to the same music and had similar family circumstances. We were all middle-class, inner-city kids, just being kids.

So when people saw this tiny Hispanic girl and me together, just being kids, I saw the looks on their faces. Of course, I looked back with a face that I'm sure said, “What are you looking at?" But I didn't understand the significance of those stares until now.

"What are you doing with a black best friend?"

A woman recently asked my Hispanic best friend this ridiculous question. I wasn't there so I can't personally decipher the seriousness of the question, but under any circumstances, I don't like it. Although I want to express myself in a slightly inappropriate manner, I'm not completely shocked by this woman’s ignorance.

In 2017, black people are only allowed to befriend other black people. White people are only allowed to befriend other white people. Hispanics can only befriend other Hispanics. Stick to your own race, group, ethnicity, religion, social status and sexual orientation. Don't unite. Don't dare love one another. Don't gain knowledge about other cultures. Make America Great Again.

In a time when the racial climate is so intense and uncomfortable, it's hard to ignore questions such as the one my best friend heard.

The first time I saw Silvia, I noticed her hair. It was black, silky and it hung down her back. It wasn't the type of hair I grew up seeing on my other friends, but that didn't make me want to exclude her. It made me want to get to know her because she was different. But it wasn’t until we began building our friendship that I realized how strong our similarities were as opposed to our differences.

If you strip away our hair, skin color, nose and lip shape, the respect and love we have for each other is equal. We like the same types of music and movies. We laugh and make jokes for endless hours. We support and genuinely care for each other. We love eating, frivolously spending our money and complaining about how broke we are. We’re honest but kind.

Our bond proves that there is no racial standard on friendship. We need to get to a place where we don’t ask questions like “What are you doing with a black best friend?"

All friendships are valid.

That's what she's doing with a black best friend.

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