Conversations about Race-Related Experiences

The commitment and connection that people have to their friends presents an opportunity for meaningful conversations about important experiences, including race-related experiences. Yet friends from different racial groups may each experience identity threat in such conversations that prevents them from going well or from happening at all.

One goal of this line of work is to understand how often cross-race friends talk about race-related experiences, their expectations about these conversations, and how they experience these conversations. I am particularly interested in the consequences of talking about race-related experiences for minority group members’ ability to feel authentic and understood in the friendship, White friends’ interest in and continuous learning about race, and both friends’ closeness.

In understanding these processes, a second goal is to help cross-race friends have better conversations about race-related experiences that lead to closer, more authentic intergroup friendships. Using a wise intervention approach, I test theory-driven strategies aimed at mitigating threat experienced by both majority and minority-group friends.

Mellon Faculty Fellow

social psychologist, interested close intergroup relationships and conversations about identity