Written by: Imani Hightower
Edited by: Brittany Cooper
SOOO, Virgo season seems to be starting off quite lovely this year. Netflix recently released several of our favorite feel good shows to stream whenever you want. The shows include: Moesha, The Game, Sister Sister, Girlfriends, The Parkers, One on One, and Half & Half. Growing up, I vividly remember how excited I would be when One on One would come on. To see a girl who looked like me, used slang like me, and I could relate to, was always so exciting. Some of these black shows were more than just a storyline. It was 30 minutes to escape being the only black girl in my school. It was 30 minutes of understanding the life of a black girl with her dad present. The show was life, and it did something to me that is so important for little brown girls: it made me HAPPY. These shows also present to us an aspect that we subconsciously adore - that ultimate bond, of BLACK FRIENDSHIP.
I am what people like to call a hopeless romantic, but not just because I wanna fall in love like Nia Long and Larenz Tate, who played Nina and Darius in Love Jones, but because I have these wild, crazy expectations on what a friendship looks like.
Being Black is already hard as hell, but being black when all you work with are people who do not look like you, is even harder. So, after work, there comes a time and a place where you need your friends. More specifically, your BLACK FRIENDS. No one is going to understand better than another black person how disrespectful it is to have a coworker say, "You changed your hair?" Like, "YES SUSIE Q, I CHANGED MY DAMN HAIR, I ALSO CHANGED MY FUCKING PANTIES YOU WANNA TOUCH THEM TOO?" Only Black friendships can help you process your anger and then end up in tears from laughing at the AUDACITY.
According to Forbes (you know a chick loves her some damn Forbes), 'relationships are essential to your health and happiness.' As much as our music screams I AM BETTER OFF ALONE, the reality of that is, your sad lonely ass can always be better with some good friends.
Now, let me be the first to admit that having no friends is better than having shitty friends. But, this is why we must nurture our friendships similar to the way we nurture romantic relationships. The only difference between both ‘ship’s is one includes a romantic love and the other includes a platonic love. Nonetheless, they come from a place of LOVE. As adults, we must understand that nothing just comes together perfectly. We must work and be intentional for things to be what we want.
Trauma is something that we all deal with as black people. In 1966, Canadian psychiatrist Vivian M. Rakoff, coined the term transgenerational trauma, after doing a study that documented high rates of documented psychiatric trauma in children of holocaust survivors. So yes, many of us, our parents, aunties, uncles, exes and dem are not bad people. We just suffer from passing on generations of trauma and never being able to speak on it and HEAL FROM THE HURT. When you put it into perspective, it sometimes makes you think back on all the old failed friendships and how some of it really was not even our fault.
Being ignorant to the notion that trauma is real and trauma affects ALL of us in different ways can cause problems in our friendships that we sometimes do not understand. A perfect example is the friend who never reaches out. Recently, I have put one of my friends in the doghouse because she never reaches out to me. I felt as though the only time we talked, was when I spoke to her. I felt like I supported her like none other, but when it came to me and my dreams and my accolades, I could not even get a "GIRLLLLLLLLLL", let alone a repost. After some time of cutting her off without her even knowing (some real psychotic shit if you ask me, I know, I just looked into therapy y'all, so shut up), I spoke to a mutual friend and she allowed me to realize: one, when you love someone you tell them when they have hurt you and you work on it; and two, she may act like that because that is how she grew up, no one ever told her when she was wrong or when she was being selfish. I had to then put my big girl panties on and realize, damn, I love this girl and she deserves to get told she is being a shitty friend so she can fix it. Trauma will have you out here ruining the black friendship and love that Gina and Pam taught us growing up.
Black friendship is one of the best feelings ever. To be out in public, fly, happy and able is a feeling only we can understand and relate to. So many times have I gone on vacations with my girls, then when the pics hit the gram... Like, what a day to be black and fine. The best part is your friends commenting and doing what us black folk do: "YESSS BRAIDS," "WHAT WAIST SIS," "COME THRU MELANIN!" And it does not read the same unless it is coming from your black girlfriends (sorry coworkers and white friends I do have, love yall, but this is an honesty piece).
We owe it to each other to be good friends. There is so much bullshit going on in the world. So many people who are fake to us because they do not know how to deal with our blackness. We owe it to each other to be real, and to be vulnerable, and be there when our friends need us. We have to show up for each other. Friendship forces us to hold one another accountable to be the very best.
There are so many reasons why Black Friendship is important, but my favorite is the feeling of bliss it gives you. There is no better feeling than having someone who understands your struggles without ever having to explain why. No one else understands silence in the room after you break down and cry to your girlfriend because you feel the pressure from our own men, who want to force us into this place of submission, or your man left you for a white girl because she "listens" or "she never tells me no." That hug feels different because it comes from a place of, "I've been there sis." Black friendship is a vibe, it is a place, and it matters.
I realize that due to my own transgressions, I have ruined some amazing Black friendships. Whether it be my aggression, my mouth, my attitude, or even just my fear of rejection. Because of the space I am in now, this space of loving and healing, I realize how neglectful I was to those relationships. These were black friendships that were so important to me, but I was unable to realize how much they served my purpose.
I hope that if you have found the JT to your Miami, you cherish it. I pray that if you have found the Tommy and Cole to your Martin, you nurture it. The same way we nurture romance, family, and even our job relationships, I pray you take the time to truly appreciate and do right by your Black friends. Friendship is a date, but Black friendship is homecoming.
Dedicated to all my REALfriends. I am beyond thankful to be connected.