I’m a young black woman and I don’t have a lot of black friends.
It’s almost embarrassing and shameful to admit, and it’s become something more problematic as I’ve gotten older. It’s also been something, in recent years, that’s been both a growing desire and an area of discontent for me as well.
I’ve privately envied other young black women who have a close circle of ride-or-die girlfriends, a tight professional circle and network of those who look like them, and a group of people they can relate to on so many levels. I’ve had moments when I wish I would have chosen to attend an HBCU for undergrad and got to go to homecomings and step shows and experience all the trimmings of rich black culture, history, and education instead of attending a private school.
Almost all of my friends are white or other ethnicities that aren’t black, and while I do love and appreciate them all, they can’t relate to some of the things I experience both privately and publicly as a young black woman. Some of them have been great listeners but they still can’t fully grasp what it’s like for me living and breathing in this skin. I’m finding that as I’m getting older, and as the world seems to be spiraling in an often non-progressive direction, I need to connect with more men and women who look like me, that can relate to my plight and struggles and challenges as a young black woman moving through this world.
And not just the world as we now know it, but also the world of the workplace, the world of dating, and future worlds I anticipate exploring.
I’ve always been that one black girl in a sea of non-black spaces and faces. At school, in different neighborhoods growing up, in the office, or at various social gatherings, that’s been openly and jokingly referred to as the “white black girl” or “bougie black girl” by different groups of both white and black people, and honestly, there have been times when being referenced by those titles hurt. Especially when they came out of the mouths of people I’ve been well acquainted with.
Also, hearing things like, “Well, you know, you’re not like most black girls” or “You act white” or “Are you mixed?” or hearing “Maybe you’re just taking things too personally…” when enduring a moment of racism or prejudice or what can feel like an endless amount of microaggressions eventually takes a toll when I have no inner circle of black girlfriends or guy friends to process these things with.
I need more black friends.
Sure, I’ve had a few casual black friends here and there, but not too many relationships that were deeply grounded in solidarity.
I need more black friends who understand what it’s like to exist in the one-foot-in and one-foot-out world of co-existing in different environments where there are not a lot of people who look like us in the room. I need more black friends who I can cry with and pour my heart out to when I experience a moment of racism or prejudice and get dismissed and told, “Don’t take things too personally.” I need more black girlfriends who understand the world of having natural black hair and experimenting with sew-ins, crochets, protective styles, and natural hair care products. I also need more black girlfriends I can gush freely with when it comes to showing love, appreciation, and our desires for connecting, dating, and falling in love with strong, smart, successful black men. I need more black friends who are open to exploring different art, cultures, environments, and activities outside of the world of black culture. I need more black friends who will embrace me as I am vs. prejudging me as bougie or counting me out because I don’t have as much street-cred as they may have. We may have different backgrounds and experiences, but I’m still woke. Trust.
And I need more black friends who just get what it’s like being black.
God knows I’m grateful for the friends I do have from all different races and backgrounds, but I recognize the importance and necessity of being black and needing more black friends. You have to have people in your life who get who you are, get where you’re coming from, and get where you’re trying to go.