"If anybody knows how to be friends, it’s black women. We have been enslaved and had to care for each other and each other’s babies and pick each other up in so many powerful ways. We know to take care of each other, we know how to be friends. Don’t buy the lies" -Cree Summer
Due to a combination of school demographics and social anxiety, I have long struggled with the dynamics of friendship. At a predominantly white school this becomes further complicated by the fact that few of my classmates could relate to the unique experience of being a Black girl in a glaringly white space. Black girls occupy a very complex space in relation to whiteness and white spaces. The experiences of black girls in predominantly white institutions can be hard enough without the added weight of facing those hardships alone. In the midst of this storm of intersections, I discovered the gift of Black girl friendships. No one on Earth knows what is like to be a Black girl except for other Black girls. Black female friendships are the safe spaces that can't be destroyed by anyone but the parties involved. We can be each others solace.
Black women’s capacity for affection and loyalty has long been stigmatized and pathologized by the world in its desire to control the narrative. Denied by some and manipulated by others, Black women’s love and allegiance is so often taken for granted and hosted upon. This is why our friendships are so vital. As Hanya Yanagihara once said, “Friendship is the most underrated relationship in our lives…it remains the one relation not bound by law, blood, or money—but an unspoken agreement of love”. And this is true of all friendships, but when discussing the needs of Black women and girls, it would be foolish to deny the value of being understood in a world that has made no commitment to understanding you. This is why having Black girl friends is so important. I didn't have a close Black female friend in high school until junior year, and the difference it has made in my life to have someone with whom I didn’t not have to explain the nature of Black hair, micro-aggressions, or Black culture has had an unquantifiable impact on my mental and emotional health.
When your environment is doing everything in its power to drain and deplete your energy, there is something magical about having someone around to replenish and uplift your spirits.
I don't know if I could've made it this far with my health in tact without the support of all my friends who have each individually helped me in their own ways, but there are pains only Black girls know and therefore there are wounds we can only heal together. I am so grateful that I have begun the journey of allowing that into my life and I encourage my fellow Black girls to join me if they have not known that comfort. We are not alone. We have each other.
Written By Jordan McDonald