Sister, Sister

First off, let me tell you right now I AM ROOTING FOR EVERYBODY BLACK but there is a special place in my heart for black women. I love, support, and fight for black girls daily and will forever. Despite all the admiration for each other we share, somewhere between slavery and civil rights we got this reputation of being angry, bitter, and full of hatred towards one another. Well, I am here to tell you ISSA LIE.

From our everyday interactions to decades long friendships, the sisterhood between us is very much like a secret society. No matter where we are a black woman can share a conversation with another black woman that is a stranger just through looks. Yes, this is really a thing. We naturally gravitate towards one another and pick up on situations that everyone else, including black men, are blind to. We are raised to look at the world through our third eye early on. Those rose-colored lenses many of our peer’s gleam through are not a privilege we can afford. That is why in a crowd of a million-other people, you will undoubtedly nine times out of ten find a sister with another sister. We know that if anything pops off we are all we have. We defend and protect each other with a ferocity not many people know.

Black girl friendship is often portrayed in a negative light. From music to television, black women are pitted towards one another on a multitude of levels. This psychological tactic of engraining negative images of black women hating one another goes against our better nature. As aforementioned, we naturally depend on one another in environments where our interactions could very much secure our safety. So why do we see so many black women berating and belittling other black women? In all honesty, people are going to be people but unfortunately black people have not been granted the basic right of individuality. The idea that we act and think as a collective has been widely accepted as truth, even amongst our own.

Despite these myths, black women have some of the most encouraging and enjoyable interactions with one another. From internet forums to train rides, we greet each other with love and respect. It is a distinctive kind of peace that comes from communications between us. We don’t have to explain every word or phrase to each other, the flow of the conversation is so natural. That “YASSS HAIR!” can mean more than a thousand compliments from anyone else. We share so many experiences that transcend social status, age, and location. There is so much beauty in this innate sisterhood that it often clouds our judgement and leads to the bad, and often publicized, side of friendship between black women. I’m talking about toxic sisterhood.

Toxic sisterhood is a term that describes a [black] woman’s determination to nurture a toxic relationship with another woman based on the sole fact that [black] women must stick together. We already must fight racism and the patriarchy, it is tiring just thinking of bringing that fight home to the very ones we depend on to support and hold us down in a world that just wants to hold us back. So, what do we do? We continue to overlook all the red flags, suppress our feelings, and ultimately break down or act out in ways that feed into negative stereotypes of black women friendships. We are not allowed access to the full array of emotions so whenever we react accordingly to a situation it is treated as theatrics. People of all genders and races have negative interactions with their peers but it has never been a well-accepted notion that “white women do not like other white women” or that “Latino women only tear each other down”. This is because they are treated as individuals and their situations are judged on a case by case basis. Black women are a collective.

The truth is that friendship is complicated no matter the people but between black women friendship is something much more sacred. The fact that there is such a negative narrative surrounding our friendships misleads some younger generations of Black girls and hinders the continuation of the beautiful sisterhood we share. We hope that narrative will change over time to reflect our truest bonds.

 The unspoken language of black girl friendship is a secret that I am not at liberty to give to you but take a second to notice the subtle smiles and giggles sisters share when among other people. Take in the sly glances knowing there is a conversation far beyond your reach taking place between these women and if you’re lucky one of them will make it a meme.

Keigan Ross