Yesha Callahan

Those United Colors of Benetton Ads Lied: Poll Shows Many Americans Have No Friends Of Another Race


Remember those United Colors of Benetton ads from the 90’s and early 2000’s that showed friends of diverse backgrounds? Those ads were always so kumbaya-we are the world’ish. Well here’s a shocker, a new poll released by Reuters shows that 40 percent of white Americans and about 25 percent of non-white Americans pretty much stick to their own race when it comes to making friends. Post-racial may not be real, but homogeny definitely is. The respondents to the poll included 4,170 Americans and was taken between July 24th and August 6th.

From Reuters:

The figures highlight how segregated the United States remains in the wake of a debate on race sparked by last month’s acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of unarmed black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. President Barack Obama weighed in after the verdict, calling for Americans to do some “soul searching” on whether they harbor racial prejudice.

There are regions and groups where mixing with people of other races is more common, especially in the Hispanic community where only a tenth do not have friends of a different race. About half of Hispanics who have a spouse or partner are in a relationship with non-Hispanics, compared to one tenth of whites and blacks in relationships.

Looking at a broader circle of acquaintances to include coworkers as well as friends and relatives, 30 percent of Americans are not mixing with others of a different race, the poll showed.

Growing up in New Jersey was far from perfect, but our neighborhood and schools were pretty diverse. I had friends who spoke Spanish, Italian, Creole, Polish and Hindi.  Even as an adult, my small circle of friends still come from various backgrounds.

It seems as though the 30 year old and under crowd are the ones spearheading integration when it comes to friendships and relationships.

Younger American adults appear to confirm this, according to the poll. About one third of Americans under the age of 30 who have a partner or spouse are in a relationship with someone of a different race, compared to one tenth of Americans over 30. And only one in 10 adults under 30 say no one among their families, friends or coworkers is of a different race, less than half the rate for Americans as a whole.

So Clutchettes, do you have a diverse circle of friends? Or do you tend to stick with your own race?



  1. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    I went to a fairly diverse private high school and a very diverse university, and as a result I have friends of just about all races. However, honestly my closest friends are black. I think people naturally relate better with others who have similar cultural backgrounds. It’s not to say you can’t appreciate others for their differences, and I do like a mix of people around me. That being said, I also think this has a lot to do with where you live and the demographics of your particular area. I live in So. Cal where this doesn’t seem to be much of problem at all.

    • August 8, 2013 - Reply

      @Ooh La La

      Same for No. Cali.

      Call me stuck on Cali. but I think it is just easier to blend in out here. Not at all saying that there are no racist out here. Racism is covert and undercover—fine with me.

      And.. the black population is very small. I think like only 8%.

      Anyways… I just wouldn’t want to limit what I know about life. I would hate to self-segregate myself. Life is too varied. Too many experiences. Just seems it would be very boring to align myself with people who share the same experience.

      • August 9, 2013 - Reply

        @The Comment

        I live in So Cal as well, but feel that people are so much nicer in No Cal! That being said the pop for Blacks in Cali is 6%.

        And here in So Cal Black people can be very fearful and turn on themselves quite easily. Hence I’ve learned to be loyal be the people who are loyal to me. Regardless of race or gender.

  2. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    Well I must be one of the few Americans who have friends from all over the world. And I’m so happy for it.

  3. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    Not surprising people mostly like to hang about people who are just like them. I am not big on friends but the very few I do have are black.

  4. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    Actually those numbers are impressive. I would never have guessed that 60% of whites have non-white friends or that the opposite is true for 75% of non-whites. Not sure why this article was written from the negative viewpoint.

    • August 11, 2013 - Reply


      Good point, we seem to be doing better in society even though we still refuse to self segregate based on our neighborhood choices. Even still, a key underlying issue within this statistic is, that in order for nonWhites to “move on up” in American society, they need to have White friends and/or the ability to successfully socialize with them. With the exception of some Asian populations, the same is not as true for other racial groups in America. Having access to Whites and the social capital of whiteness is unfortunately far more important than it should be.

  5. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    I do & that’s only because I live in NYC. Now..ask someone who lives in Wyoming.

  6. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    I do & that’s probably because I live in NYC.

  7. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    No what that poll meant to say was they have black friends when its convenient for their I’m not a racist since I have such and such number of “black” friends. Riley Cooper, Paula Deen crowd, that’s a ace in their hand of cards they pull out. Also we use so many terms loosely these days, and they black person you work with and exchange three words a day and that’s it doesn’t qualify as a friend. In a lot of white people’s minds saying excuse me, or good morning constitutes friendship to them, as it doesn’t require much effort into actually getting to know or really respect somebody. I have friends and they are people who I associate with they really know me, what kind of person I am, the good, the things that make me tick, if you need something, or just to vent and talk about life that is friendship.

    • August 8, 2013 - Reply


      I was thinking the same thing. Maybe they should have said associates or acquaintances.

  8. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    In my circle of friends, it is diverse but not in the way that one would think. I have friends that are from different cultures (Jamaican, Haitians, Panamanian, etc.).
    Come to think of it, I’ve never had a friend that wasn’t from a different culture.

  9. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    Mimi Luvs’ comment rightly hints at one of the problems when people discuss inter-racialism/multiculturalism. Too many people think inter-racialism/multiculturalism means mingling with white folk. I am of the mind that my Latino, Haitian, Caribbean and African friends and neighbors make me multicultural.

    Second, I think it is best for a person’s psychological, spiritual, and cultural well-being to socialize and live among persons with similar backgrounds. My undergraduate career at an HBCU and my graduate career at a PWI showed me that the most confused “minorities” were those spending time around persons unlike themselves, especially if those persons were white. I acknowledge we cannot control who we encounter at work, school, or other public spaces. However, we have control over our private lives. Choose your friends wisely.

    • August 8, 2013 - Reply

      @Black Womanist

      Currently attending a PWI, and I can vouch for that 100%. Luckily, I chose a different route, but many of my peers did not.

    • August 9, 2013 - Reply

      @Black Womanist

      what is PWI?

  10. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    @ Marisa

    I was thinking about that and glad you mention it. People do use the word friend/friends very loosely. I mean on a social networking site you can have 100 friends and only really know two.

    • August 8, 2013 - Reply


      Tell me about it I see the social networking like twitter and facebook were all these strangers talk as if their actually friends, then have the most ridiculous online beefs you could imagine. If you have 1000 followers how many of them do we really know. I remember when the Kansas City Chiefs had the player who killed his girlfriend/mother of their baby and himself. The quarterback on the team said do we really reach out to the people were close to.
      Notice a lot of people can give you a play by play of every twitter beef of so and so but, have no clue what’s going on in the life of their actual friends and family.

      Also being social which I am you meet people and get friendly but, being a friend is way different. A friendship is one of affection, trust, and respect, interest. I don’t need to have everything in common with someone and we don’t need to agree with every opinion. I have managed to have friends who aren’t all black because I am who I am, the opinions I express on here and other sites are no different than what I say, and don’t water it down because “psssss there are white/latino/Asian/muslims/jews in the room”. I’m respectful but, I will say it and do it how I feel it. As if yet I haven’t had any non black friends pull a Riley/Paula, basically I wouldn’t have advise befriending me if you got racist beliefs wtf is the point.

  11. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    i find it hard to be friends with white people. they seem to be so dense and lack common sense when it comes to race and whats not appropriate to say to someone…
    however i have a large amount of hispanic, mixed and asian friends

  12. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    I love when they’re studies abou things that are obvious. At least for me smh. I have had “friends” that was spanish, creole and …white…but lot as to do with region. I was raise in miami so its easier to meet haitians and spanish ppl (plus being black hispanic that wasn’t really hard) n then moved too sw fl where they are more white ppl

  13. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    My friendship/close acquaintance circle happens to be both very diverse and mostly black.

  14. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    This poll could mean many things. One, people of different races simply don’t like each other which is why they don’t associate. Another is demographics. If someone is born in an area with mostly one race, go to school with mostly one race, then most likely their friends will be of the same race. Like I said it could be self-segregation or simply lack of opportunity. I don’t have any acquaintances who are Arab because I’ve never been around any ever, not because I don’t like them. This poll is too simple to tell us anything, it should’ve gone deeper before it was published. The million dollar question is WHY???

  15. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    Benetton is a Italian brand who has always featured an array of diverse models and I’m sure they meant well in their ads, but this is America and we’re an alienated and divisive group of individuals.

  16. August 8, 2013 - Reply

    This is totally non-shocking. We, as a country, have doubled down on racial segregation and animus in the past decade. And, there is little implication that this will change anytime soon…sadly.

  17. August 9, 2013 - Reply

    no surprise , mainly because not all people live in cities in which you are most likely to interact with people of different races . you have thousand of towns in america that the minority population is less than 5%. its not that complicated

  18. August 10, 2013 - Reply

    A recent 60 Minutes piece called “Born good? Babies help unlock the origins of morality” is relevant to this converstion.

  19. August 11, 2013 - Reply

    I am quiet by nature and most of my friends are white. I live in the south, but I have different tastes then most ‘black’ country folk (whatever that is) – so I get picked on for being ‘white.’

    I hate it. I don’t care what color my friends are…I just want to hang around the people who will accept me for who I am.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: