Virtual Colloquium - Cross-race Friendship

Elizabeth Page-Gould, Ph.D. University of Toronto

As our culture is grappling with its racialized structure, it is necessary to ask the question: Why do we research cross-race friendship from an intergroup relations perspective? An easy answer is that cross-race friendship is a high-quality form of intergroup contact (i.e., social interaction between people from different social groups). The issue with intergroup contact is that we know intergroup contact is the precursor for both intergroup collaboration and intergroup conflict; It can go well or poorly. Cross-group friendship, on the other hand, appears to be a potent, positive force for bending intergroup contact towards intergroup collaboration. This talk will discuss the assumptions of research on cross-race friendship, the barriers and risks of cross-race friendships, the physiological and psychological resilience associated with them, and the reasons to be optimistic about the role of cross-race friendship in racial reconciliation. I argue there is a necessity and functionality to interracial collaboration: Throughout history, even when close interracial relationships were criminalized, they have never been quashed.