Dear Alicia

By on October 17, 2007

I am from a very small town and we don’t have much diversity there. It is difficult for me to socialize with someone outside of my race, because I don’t know how to go about it, as I have never had the opportunity to before. Please help.

From diversity troubled.

I am very glad that you are addressing this issue about yourself, especially since our campus has been dealing with diversity issues for the last couple of months.

I experienced a similar situation. I grew up in a very multi-cultural neighborhood. My two best friends in middle school were African American and Puerto Rican. I then went to an all-girl’s Catholic high school. I felt very different because there were mostly Caucasian students in my class. Being brought up in the town I was from, made me immediately congregate towards the few students of color. I became great friends with an African American student. We sat together at lunch, we went to football games together and we had the best sleepovers ever. Everyone knew we were the best of friends.

One day another student asked me a very similar question you asked. She said, “I am not trying to be rude, but what do you and Ashley* talk about?” At first I got very aggravated. Why was she asking me this? Ashley and I were just like everyone else. We were girls in high school who talked about boys, clothes, school and more boys. But then I realized that maybe this girl, like you, wasn’t brought up in a multi-cultural community like I was. It wasn’t that she was racist or prejudice against other ethnicities, she just never had any experiences outside of her race.

I am going to tell you exactly what I told her. Not to lessen the issue, but we are all just human. We are all built the same way. In my opinion, God made everyone different to make the world exciting. Just like I have brown hair and my sister has blonde hair. Ashley was African American and I was Caucasian.

My advice to you is to not think so much about it. Don’t be nervous to approach someone outside of your race. Socializing is socializing, no matter what race, background or culture you are from. You should be yourself, hold your beliefs, listen to what they have to say and try to understand things that are not familiar to you.

Keep in mind to never assume something because of the way someone looks from the outside. You need to get to know them. Ask them questions about their culture. It is a big part of who we all are and it can make for a very interesting conversation.

Each culture has their own traditions, beliefs, norms. and such makes life. All the different cultures surrounding us make us who we are. We can learn from each other, experience situations that we would have never experienced before, laugh at something that we would never laugh at or recognize something that was unfamiliar to us in the past.

Making friends outside of your race will make you a more rounded and knowledgeable adult. Think of it this way; instead of having a friend who agrees with everything you like and dislike; you can have a friend who has different views and opinions. A friend who shows you a different side of the world and who brings something to your life that no one else can.

Stay open minded, confident and respectful. Remember that everyone is unique and different but when we get down to it, we are all just humans dealing with life.


(* for privacy purposes, Ashley is a made-up name)

(You can email me questions at, or you can drop off questions in the anonymous folder outside of the Chronicle office, upstairs in the student center)


About Alicia Staffa