Four In Ten White People Have No Friends Who Aren’t White


Let’s coin a new stereotype right here: Latinos are mad friendly.

Ninety percent of Latinos said that they are friends with people of a different race, according to new poll from Reuters and Ipsos, making them much more likely than the rest of America to reach across racial lines to make friends.

‘Nine out of 10 Latinos can say, some of my best friends are not-Latino,’ my Code Switch teammate Hansi Lo Wang reported recently for NPR’s Newscast unit.

Only about a quarter of the people of color surveyed said they didn’t have any close personal friends from a different racial group.

But the number of white people who only had white friends was much higher, at 40 percent. But why did whites have more same-race friendships than any other group?

Part of it is just the math: there are just way more white folks.

And geography certainly plays a role: if you don’t live near people who aren’t in your racial group, you can’t make friends with them. That might explain why Latinos, who are especially clustered in the diverse West, have more friends of different races than everyone else.

But the whole story is a probably a lot more complicated than just geography and numbers.

The Reuters/Ipsos survey found that people from the South were less likely to have more than five acquaintances of another race. But nine of the 10 blackest states, by proportion, are southern. And an influx of Latino children means that more than half of the South’s school population are kids of color. So there’s at least theoretical proximity between lots of black folks, lots of Latinos, and lots of white folks in the South. But, still, people there reported social networks that were more monochromatic than those in the rest of the country.

“A lot of white people are like, ‘I wish I knew more black people, but I just don’t! Where are they?'” joked Tanner Colby, the author of Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America. (He said he was surprised the 40 percent number for whites wasn’t higher.)

Colby, who is white, decided to write his book when he noticed that he and his liberal Brooklyn friends (also white) voted eagerly for Barack Obama. But then Colby began to realize that while they knew black people, none of them had any actual black friends. (Indeed, one of the questions we got the most after sharing the Reuters study on Twitter was just what people meant by “friends.”)

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: