Be more than an ally, be a friend

Hannah Figueroa-Velazquez, Opinion Editor

When thinking about friends you know and love, your focus is likely on personality and not so much race, gender or sexual orientation. It’s important that you befriend others not for the color of their skin, but because they carry all those likeable qualities you may look for in a companion. Of course, seeking out a specific number of minorities for the sake of being diverse or having a “racial quota” is fundamentally strange for reasons I don’t need to explain. However, wishing to diversify your friend group is something that we should all be striving towards.

 If you acknowledge that the majority of your friends have similar cultures or experiences as you, this in no way signifies prejudice toward others, but perhaps shows an unwillingness to bond with people who are different than what you’re accustomed to. Humans tend to stick within their comfort zones because it seems safer, but making it a personal goal to not only understand, but connect with those who have different backgrounds or ethnicities will grant you a more well-rounded view of the world as well as valuable friendships. It’s often easier to be around people who relate to your lifestyle or the traditions your family practices, but by surrounding yourself with individuals who strictly resemble you, you miss out on the enrichment of varying opinions and cultures. 

Naturally, the idea of stepping outside the circle of people you’ve befriended can be nerve-racking, so where are some good places to start? Attending affinity group meetings at Tualatin High School will give you the opportunity to meet new people who may have a fresh perspective on issues you’ve never considered before. Even during the pandemic, there are resources on the school’s website for online group meetings. Also, when getting to know your classmates, don’t dismiss those who you initially think are too different from you. Instead, ask questions to get to know them better. Find things you have in common with one another, and even better, embrace those differences. We can all learn from each other as people, and the best way to start is to not only be an ally, but a friend.