What is Black Girl Solidarity and is a universal sense of Black Girl Solidarity achievable?
We often talk about “the look” or “the stare that black people give each other in spaces where they are the extreme, undeniable minority. It’s a look of comfort and acceptance that says (without saying), “I got you, ‘fam’.” This look transcends demographics and “ethnicity”. It’s a cultural phenomenon that bonds blacks when they feel the most uncomfortable and unrepresented.
That look was particularly prevalent during the 1st of week of school here at my PWI. The black students, specifically us black girls locked eyes in every class, on every sidewalk, in every hall and every dining hall during orientation and into the first few weeks of class until we actually met each other. However, recent events at my PWI have led to me to begin questioning whether or not that look can actually initiate friendship. Can black girls get along? Or better yet, can ALL black girls at a PWI get along?
Too many times I have walked past one black girl or a group of black girls only to have them roll their eyes, suck their teeth or mumble under their breath. Why? Where is this envy or preconceived judgmental behavior stemming from?
There’s a stereotype that black women can’t along and unfortunately, it’s true. I know that this is NOT what most want to hear and it’s typically not something that I would even say. However, after recent…. “altercations” with a few of my peers, I realized that Black Girl Solidarity is an idealistic approach to fixing a few of our problems. Ideally, Black women and girls around the would come together to annihilate injustice and propel Black people to their justified place in society. But that seems like a dream deferred.
After talking to one of my friends following the “altercation” that occurred, I realized a few things
- Black girls are more inclined to have a competitive view of another Black girl instead of a sisterly approach.
- Black women/girls tend to belittle other Black women/girls in the same manner that Black men, other POCs, and white men do.
- Black women are a combination of the two most marginalized groups on the planet (Black & Woman)
In theory, #BlackGirlMagic is great. Realistically, it’s barely a part of our reality. It’s always easy to say that “As black women we need to stop tearing each other down and finding faults with each other. Our focus should instead be to uplift each other.” However, there is a historical, conspiracist agenda to tear black women down and apart. It’s deeper than the women parading around talking about their “haters”. You wanting haters or even referencing them isn’t promoting any kind of solidarity. However, it is important to question where the need for haters stems from.
It would be easy to simply attribute this to something as minuscule as “men” but the actual reality of the matter is that Black women have a predisposition to hate each other. Studying the relationship of Black women during slavery sheds light on an issue that is still currently plaguing us. There was a strong sense of camaraderie during slavery but there was an inevitable sense of competition and hatred that spread amongst Black woman slaves.
Here’s a personal story: I take my senior year of high school to be a prime example of this issue. While it was not the first time I noticed this trend, it was definitely a time when my eyes were opened to the detrimental effects the separation of Black women can have on the Black community as a whole.
Throughout my life, I was raised & heavily influenced by a group of independent Black women who cited God and family as their main source of life and the foundation of their entire being. My Grandmother was and still is, my biggest role model. I watched her cook, clean, travel, volunteer and ultimately live on her own terms, in her time, in her own way. After her passing, I began to embody her attributes even more so than when I spent my days watching her walk, talk and maneuver through life. I was completely astonished at her entire essence. Because of her, I was always seeking out leadership positions/roles in an effort to strengthen my own leadership skills. I began participating in Student Council in 3rd grade. I ran for treasurer, secretary, and president in Elementary school (all of which I lost). It wasn’t until middle school that I started to become almost domineering in my presence and relentless in making things happen when and how I wanted. From 6th grade to 12th grade, I won every position I sought out. My best friend during this entire time however, was (and still is), a young Black man. My friendships with Black girls never thrived because there always seemed to be an uncanny sense of competition. Not only were they competing with me, but they were often times angered because I did not view them as competition. Unless their name was on a ballot with mine, I saw no need to be running a race against them. Senior year was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After having a huge argument with a former friend, she did everything in her power to make sure I had no power. Senior year was supposed to be the best year ever. I held office as President for the 2nd time in my high school career which had never been done before, I had a 4.3 GPA, I was an over-achiever, I planned every event the campus experienced and I was a role model for underclassmen. However, due to a huge blowout with a fellow classmate at the beginning of the year, senior year proved to be rather tense. The girl decided that she would NOT let me live after that explosive incident. I would casually leave the classroom only to later be informed that she was talking about me when I left, she avoided me when it was just the two of us around, she created a group of students that hated me and all of my (4) friends. She was possibly the most pathetic person in our graduating class of 41. I never understood the extent of her hatred for me until it came to me trying to plan events for the senior class. She worked with a group of Black women (who were teachers) to change, slightly alter or completely get rid of any and every event I tried to initiate. Senior year wasn’t what I wanted it to be and just as she attempted to ruin my year, I ruined hers simply by existing. The Black girls in our class were permanently divided and our entire class was effected. Our entire class suffered what seemed to be an inevitable division because the two most influential Black girls couldn’t make amends. Petty? Yes. The entire story sounds like a bad script for an MTV TV show but it was my reality and it affected the way I perceived other Black girls.
When looking at the relationships between Black women, it seems as though there are two extreme categories that they dwell in: They are either very close to other and regard each other as a “best friend” or they view each others as enemies. Many Black women will site the division issue to the availability of good, quality Black men or to the jealousy that is triggered at the success of another Black woman. Of course that seems plausible and relatable but stopped there is not okay. What is the root of this issue?
Another Black girl is not my competition, my enemy or beneath me. As usual, I am advocating for all Black spaces. In this case, an exclusive space for Black women. Black women need the opportunity to be apart of social networks that teach them how to effectively support each other, reconcile seemingly irreconcilable differemces and strengthen the image, cause and perception of Black women as a whole. While Black women do not need to prove themselves to society, it is impossible to deny the impact a positive societal depiction will have on Black women and their psyche.
The #BlackGirlSolidarity from my side is real and it radiates worldwide.
This series is about figuring out why Black women interact with each other in the way that they do and constructing a solution to strengthen the respect and solidarity between black women.