Friday, July 20, 2007

A Diva's Gotta Have Friends

Some people use the term “friend” rather loosely, sometimes to describe someone whom they have no emotional connection to or, dare I say, even care for. And all over the newspapers and magazines, celebrities are photographed shopping, dining, or laughing with their flavor of the moment BFF (best friend forever). I recently looked up the definition of friend. The Random House Unabridged Dictionary describes a friend as a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. The American Heritage Dictionary reads, “A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.” I have a core group of friends in the truest sense of the word.

My most intimate friend is Lolita. She is of Indian Guyanese descent. Lolita is first generation American, married to a Hispanic, with four young children. My running partner is Simona, who I took my first “girlfriend vacation” with. She is Romanian, born in Austria and raised in California. Then there is Vijaya, who was born and raised in India and moved to the states three years ago. Last, but definitely not least, is the only American friend I have, Jen. Jen is of Italian descent, but for all intents and purposes, she is white. No one in my core group is black and it was not until a family friend, who happens to be black, noticed the diversity at my birthday celebration this past January and brought it to my attention.

Since then, I have wondered about the “lack of black” in my circle of sisters. I certainly embrace my culture. I know that I am able to pursue my dreams here in America because of the sacrifice and work of hundreds of thousands of blacks before me. And I think that it is because of this work and because of my history which is rich with struggle that I am able to go beyond color and choose friends, not based on color, but because we have a commonality, a true affection, and a shared respect for one another.

It is my mother that showed my brothers and me how “chic” diversity can be. Although she is a voice from the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s and she marched and petitioned for equality, my mother taught us to be open-minded and accepting of all people and races before developing an opinion. So race has never really played much of a role when befriending people.

When my brother asked me to be his muse, part of the reason he chose me was because of how I embrace other ethnicities, my appreciation for varied musical genres, and how open I am to all life experiences. At his company, we feel like life is a party that deserves to be celebrated and we invite everyone who comes with a pure heart, no matter what their ethnicity, to have a good time and enjoy all the colors of the human rainbow. Good people are the same no matter what color they happen to be. It is the same with my friends. I seek beauty, especially on the inside. I look for people who do the work and want to be the best possible human beings they can be. I have friends who check me when I am wrong and are there for me to soften some of life’s blows. I no longer wonder what is wrong with me because I have no black people in my circle of friends. I only celebrate the fact that I have people that I can call friends. And I think we look rather good together in a United Nations kind of way.