“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” — Jane Howard
Growing up in an all-white suburb in Canada, there weren’t a lot of black people for me to socialize with. I was itching for the kind of friendship I saw between Whitley, Kim, Jaleesa and Freddie on A Different World. But alas, no luck. Finally, when I began my freshman year at university, I was able to meet a wide range of incredible people from all racial backgrounds. Not only did college give me the opportunity to learn about multiple different cultures and expose myself to a variety of worldviews, but it also gave me the opportunity to build some of my strongest friendships. Bonding over bad dining hall food during freshman orientation was the catalyst to my making friends. And of those friendships, the relationships I’ve built with other black women are the ones that have lasted the longest.
Part of what makes black female friendships so special is that they offer a unique validation that the world often fails to give black women. Black female friendships are so deep and meaningfully because they provide something for black women that cannot be found anywhere else—total support and acceptance. I don’t have to worry about my friends labeling me as angry, nor do I have to explain my feelings about race to them, because they already understand what it’s like to be a black woman. We—black women— understand what it’s like to experience both racism and sexism. Black female friendships give us a safe space to vent about the systems of oppression we face and to laugh about everyday blights and struggles.