If you’re like me, then you’ve probably seen the social media posts floating around talking about what a year 2020 has been.
The U.S. launched a drone strike against an Iranian general. We watched impeachment trials of the 45th president. NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter were killed in a plane crash. The stock market recorded some of the worst days in decades. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd were killed, bringing light and civil unrest over racial inequality to the forefront. Asian giant hornets, nicknamed “murder hornets,” were spotted in Washington state. The SpaceX Falcon 9 blasted off from Kennedy Space Center. All of this has happened while we are also trying to figure out how to function during the emergence of a global pandemic from a novel coronavirus.
Do you have an achromatic view?
We have been forced into a new kind of isolation because of COVID. Since March, my family has been following social distancing guidelines, which has in turn clouded our view of the world around us. We have only seen the aforementioned events through our very Caucasian eyes. My husband and I are white. Our children are white. Our parents are white. Other than that, we haven’t really been around many people. Our circle was colorful and beautiful before COVID. I miss it. We long for the fresh perspective from our brown and black family and friends.
I’ve been blessed to travel extensively and have friends from all over the world. I went to one of the most diverse colleges here in Alabama and have worked for one of the most diverse employers. I have deep ties into the international community. But now I only have an achromatic view. I’m sure there are more of you out there who are only seeing black, brown, or white right now too. I yearn for the day that the word COVID is only seen in the history books. I crave to see systemic racism dismantled. My heart longs for the colorful circle that once surrounded me. I’m sure there are some of you out there who would also enjoy more diverse camaraderie.
It’s hard to make mom friends in general, though. I think many moms are uncomfortable initiating a relationship with someone from a different background or culture, especially during a pandemic. We often don’t know how to move a conversation beyond small talk. Ofttimes we’re not really even interested in the small pleasantries that lead into that conversation.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt
The quote above has always been a life song for me. If you want to know how to diversify your friends list, this is it. Care about others and be intentional with your actions. People are beginning to venture out to parks, restaurants have reopened, the beginning of the school year is fast approaching, and life in general is beginning to move a little more. As we resume activities, let’s be intentional about embracing the change we are starting to see in the world. Be a catalyst to those around you. Here are a few proven ways to pursue friendships with people who are different from you.
How to Diversify Your Circle of Friends
Go have fun!
Go to the park and genuinely help the mom with multiple kids who is struggling to keep them rounded up. Watch your children and take cues from them. They WILL play with others that don’t look like them. Find that mom and do the same. You would be surprised at the conversation that happens when strangers realize you want to help or want to get to know them. Go ahead, don’t let it end there. Plan your next play date. It can be at the park again, or even better, invite them to your house next time.
Get something started!
There are organizations like Soccer Shots who are offering to bring their program to your community park, green space, or even your own back yard this year! Get in touch with your HOA or community leader and get the word out. These types of programs are a great way to meet the people in your own neighborhood that you may not have previously associated with.
Shop small and diversified!
Be intentional about supporting businesses owned and/or operated by people who are different than you. Ask about the lives of those who you see frequently at your favorite restaurant, salon, etc. Chances are, you have a lot more in common with them than you think.
Can we all pause a minute and think about just how different — and dare I say challenging — this school year is going to be on children and parents alike? I promise you aren’t alone. Wouldn’t it be great if you could rally together with other parents that are feeling the same way and have a game night, a pool night, or a grill out to cheer each other on? Most schools now have social media pages for parents and/or students of each incoming class. If your school doesn’t, then you would be a great person to start one! Get on that page. Connect with other parents. Make friends with them, especially the ones who don’t look like you. I promise, they’ll be relieved to get to know the parents of their children’s friends.
Open your home!
Let’s talk about those kids going off to college now. One of my favorite ways to befriend those who don’t look like me is to find either the international student hot spot or a “person of peace” within that community. For example, UAB has offered a hub for international students to gather once a week for free lunch and to connect with others in the community. Did you know that on average, 40% of international students report having no American friends? Most internationals living here have never seen the inside of an American home. Tell your students about these opportunities. Help them connect with others who are different from them all while filling a great need for international students.
Do you have other ideas of how to connect with those who are different from you? Let me know in the comments! Does your family look different than mine? Let’s connect! Feel free to send me a message and let’s get to know each other.