Study: Whites Have 1 Black Friend; Blacks Have 8 White Friends

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When Beverly Daniel Tatum published Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? back in 2003, she used some statistical evidence to explain why black and white students self-segregate and also relied on anecdotes from her experiences as a black student at predominantly white schools.


Those people who asked, “Well, aren’t all the white kids sitting together, too?” would be happy to know that the Washington Post has published some key findings from a recent study conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute on racial segregation and friendships.

According to the study, the pool of people whom black Americans call “friends” is, on average, more diverse than that of their white peers: The average white American has one black friend; the average black American has eight white friends.

Regarding friendships with other ethnicities and racial groups, whites and blacks were about even: The average white American has one Hispanic friend, while the average black American has two. And while white people have, on average, one Asian friend, black people have none.

The report goes on to explain the phenomenon behind how people’s “friends pools” take shape, and why they look the way they do. Simply put: People tend to hang out with people with whom they have similarities, whether based on race, religion, politics or income.

Studies like these are particularly relevant, the report explains, given how much race has informed how differently Americans are viewing the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

“The implication of these findings,” the Washington Post says, “is that when we talk about race in our personal lives, we are by and large discussing it with people who look like us.”

Read more at the Washington Post.