When you’re of a completely different race, culture, religion, or demographic from someone else, but are genuinely curious about who they are, what they believe in, and why, how do you cultivate a friendship where you can ask the really hard or DUMB questions; Ashley Gerrity has a few ideas.
We talk about:
- How to quickly identify who you most relate to
- Why cultivating friendships with people of different backgrounds, views and demographics matter
- How we’ve cultivated a space to have tough conversations about race, culture, and demographics
- What questions to ask yourself to understand your own inherent racial bias
- What steps to take to approach someone who’s different than you authentically
- How to draw upon one’s own experiences to relate to others
- What is and how to define privilege, in particular, white privilege
Ashley Gerrity shares:
- 15:34 – Am I not open to people who think differently than me? That’s the question I would ask people who would look at their last 10 people on their cell phone, and if they all look like you or grew up like you, maybe the question is: ‘Am I not open to thoughts that are different than my own?’
- 17:07 – When I’m confronted by someone who thinks differently than me politically or has different religious beliefs and experiences that I don’t necessarily relate to, it always causes me to reevaluate the way I feel or the way I believe, and I ask myself why. Why do I think that what I believe is what it is and why? Why am I feeling interested? Why am I feeling offended? The first question I ask myself is why. Why does this bother me and is it because of something insecure inside of me or is it because of something that runs deep within me trying to understand myself in relation to the world around me?
- 18:43 – I approached relationships in the world around me with questions, and that makes it easier to have friends of different backgrounds, and it makes my life richer and more aware of the real world. I live more in the real world because I acknowledge that not everyone is going to think like me and that it’d be like me.
- 19:46 – Just read the things around you. Look for information. You can’t go out and point at someone out and say: ‘You look different than me, let’s be friends.’ That’s not authentic, and that’s not socially acceptable. Expose yourself to movies that come from a different culture than you are, read articles about what’s going on in the world, in different countries around the world or even here in the United States, what’s happening in different subcultures and what’s the racial experience of others who might be living down the street from you but aren’t you, just be aware of what’s going on in the world around you. First off, it makes you more educated, conscientious person when you get to the point where you’re in a place to create an organic relationship with someone who’s different than you if you have a starting point and a cultural awareness of what’s going on around you.
- 27:00 – White privilege or privilege in general means you don’t actively seek out the experiences of others around you. You live in a world where you can ignore the experiences of others. Next, if you are in the majority racial group, you can ignore the fact that there are discomforts and experiences and pains that other people have because it’s not your experience and that’s what privilege is.
- 32:16 – Once you get past this first step of asking yourself the questions, then you’re in a better mindset to ask others about their experience. Do I think that his behavior is OK? Why? One of the things about tradition is blaming where we grew up for things or our childhood experiences, adult behavior, inability to take responsibility to make decisions for ourselves. So when people say, I was raised this way, I can’t help but think these things. It’s someone who’s not willing to ask themselves why do I really believe this or is accepting a shallow response to that question. So the first thing is to ask yourself why do I think it’s OK to treat someone like they’re just a server or like they’re just anything and not as a human being.
- 39:46 – Everyone needs to be open to being a little bit offended on a daily basis. It’s about being open to ideas that rub you the wrong way just to make you think. We need to be willing to take on a couple of bruises and be just a little bit offended in our day to day in order to explore the world in a more intense way.
- 40:59 – If you want to explore friendships with anyone, relationships of any type with someone, whether they have the same background as you or a very different background than you, the only way you’ll be successful is if you have some sort of value-based relationship.
- 47:29 – The things that we think of as offensive and inappropriate questions, when asked in a genuine sense of inquisitiveness and an openness to learn aren’t offensive. People are happy to talk with you and dig deeper, share their experiences and their culture as long as they feel like you’ve created a safe space. If you are truly open and inquisitive, people want you to hear their experience. They want you to be able to appreciate their culture and where they come from.
Multicultural Topics Addressed
- Creating the safe space in an interracial friendship to ask hard or dumb questions about a friend’s race, identity or culture
- Empathizing and relating to other people’s feelings to understand them better and put yourself in their shoes in your interracial friendships
- Exploring and educating oneself about racial stereotypes and other people’s cultural background in your interracial friendships
- Developing self-awareness to be able to cultivate strong interracial friendships
- Bonding with your multicultural friends by sharing culture and relating culturally
Get to Know Ashley Gerrity:
- Listen to her Almost Naked PODCAST
- Visit her Wedding Photography Website
- See her latest work & adventures on Instagram
Ashley Gerrity’s Favorites:
- BOOK: King Lear
- BOOK: Titus Andronicus
- BOOK: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- MUSIC: Ben Folds
- MUSIC: Tori Amos
- FOOD: Sushi
- MOVIE: Jane Eyre
- MOVIE: Pride & Prejudice
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