Glamour wants to know if you have friends of other races

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

The October issue of Glamour magazine, on newsstands now, has a feature story on race and friendship among women. Read the PDF here.

It’s the second in a series of conversations the magazine has been hosting about race, at least partially in response to the controversy last November surrounding a beauty editor’s alleged remarks about black hair styles being “political.” The first installment was about race and beauty, and we gave it a luke-warm review here on Racialicious.

This article is a rehash of a discussion panel I participated in back in May at the Conde Nast headquarters. The audience was made up of Glamour staff, as well as an ethnically diverse group of media, fashion, semi-socialitey types.

Sidenote: I have newfound respect for fashion models after doing the shoot for this article. See that photo where the three of us seem oh so relaxed and casual? Um… in reality we were each perched on a narrow wooden crate, and I was literally straddling Aisha Tyler. Seriously, my crotch was like, all up on her hip, my boob on her arm, and my face on her shoulder. Sooooo… awkward. Especially considering I had met her just an hour earlier.

Anyway, back to the article.

I walked away from the discussion panel in May pleasantly surprised. The discussion was really substantive, and people were not at all shy about exploring topics one wouldn’t ordinarily associate with Glamour magazine. I mean, we talked about white privilege and white supremacy (yes, in those words), about feeling like the token, about being asked to represent your entire race, about feeling used, about feelings of rejection, etc. Not only were the panelists refreshingly forthright, but some of the greatest nuggets actually came from the audience members.

Does the article reflect the depth of that conversation? Unfortunately, no. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re forced to boil down what would have been 20-30 pages worth of text into just a few.

Still, I’m impressed that Glamour is hosting these conversations on race, and doing it in an intelligent manner that does not talk down to the reader. Let’s not forget how mass this magazine is — they’re Cosmo’s no. 1 competitor, with a circulation of over 2 million. That’s a hell of a platform, and I hope it will spark some authentic conversations about race among their readers.

Interestingly enough, the question we kept coming back to during the panel was this: How do you define friendship? Who’s a friend and who’s just an acquaintance? I’m the type who only considers a handful of people in my life to be genuine friends, but other folks have much looser definitions of friendship.

What about you? Do you have friends (real, genuine friends) of other races? If you do, what are some of the challenges to interracial friendship? What are some of the rewards? If you don’t have friends of other races, why not?