There is a special magic about seeing yourself in the face and experience of those closest to you.
I didn’t learn this until I moved to California and found a new joy just in seeing other black people ,who always acknowledged me when they passed as if it had been days since they last seen black people. Driving to South LA became a favorite adventure, turning down random streets off Crenshaw or Adams. I would even deliberately put off shopping until I could go to the Vons by USC. It seems odd now, but living on the Eastside meant I was the only “negrita” in sight in my neighborhood (although most often not the darkest person around..but that’s a different discussion).
Those days have passed and I see black people all day everyday now – on the train, at work and in my neighborhood in the valley.
Just this week, however, I realized how important it is to not just see my people but to have friendships with them as well… specifically the importance of black girl friendships. (I’m finally starting to get over my struggles.)
Black girl friendships are magical. Spending time with people who grab your hand and pray before you eat (even though our beliefs may not add up), friends who know all the words to the songs on your 90′s R&B playlist (and sing them loudly with you in the office or while driving down the 405), who have the same immediate reactions to things like police and confederate flags, who are both infuriated and use to street harassment in the form of “nice” compliments, who can understand black girl pain around skin and hair and bodies.
And that’s not to say that black girl friendships are more important than my friendships with anyone else. I like the diversity of my friendships. It’s the same as the need to have queer friends, because I am queer and I need to see my reflection in that way too. Or to have movement friends that “get” this struggle we’re in. It’s the same, but amplified.
I was raised by black women. Lots of them. There is a special magic in friendships with people who look like the first women who loved me unconditionally, who told me I could be or do anything I wanted to be, who told me I was beautiful.
That common experience of the world makes life feel lighter. I can laugh and joke without worrying about someone making an off color joke that they think is ok because we’re friends. We don’t “check our privilege”. We throw code switching to the wind. We laugh loud and dance to our own music (on beat of course). We talk about trauma and racism and discuss the black power movement and revolution. And nobody can tell us a damn thing.
Black girls are everything.. and I’m so happy to have more of them in my life these days. <3
[insert most emo black girl friendship video I can find]