Someone To Know: A Celebration Of Black Girl Friendships
As an adult, I look back on my childhood and recognize how neurotic I was. I was terrified about the transition from kindergarten to first grade. I wondered if I was smart enough to handle the workload. But perhaps more than that, I didn’t know if I’d be able to make friends. I was and still am an introvert; and as a young girl, I took more pleasure in eavesdropping on adult conversations that I did interacting with my own peers.
The thought of making friends was stressful. I still remember the first few weeks of first grade, walking around the playground alone. My memory may be a little inaccurate but with nothing else to do, I think I resorted to observing nature. And in the midwest, in the middle of an open field, that nature was a pile of dirt in the corner of the playground.
I sat there, picking at the pile until one day Dawn Washington joined me. Dawn was dark-skinned, chubby, with long, wavy hair. We’d spend our recesses sifting through the pile, digging for nothing in particular. (Eventually, we unearthed a shovel, which I thought was poetic.) I was so worried about making friends that it was days before I realized I’d made one. I asked Dawn for clarification.
“Are we friends?”
She chuckled before replying in perfect Black girl fashion, “What do you think?!”
Dawn’s family moved to Texas a few weeks later. And I never saw her again. I can barely remember what she looked like. In my memory, she’s almost like a Black cherub, swooping into my life to let me know I could and would make friends.
Are we friends?
In my family, there are plenty of women. And instead of looking to the outside world, we tend to rely on one another for community and commiseration. My sister, 20 months my junior, is my soulmate. When you’re lucky enough to be raised and reared with a best friend, the prospect of anyone else coming along can seem not only unlikely but damn near greedy—guilt-inducing.
But God is in the blessing business. And my life has been rich with Black women who’ve lifted me up and held me down.
A Black woman put money in my pocket as I was walking away from the security of a steady paycheck and into the demanding realm of motherhood. A Black woman braided my hair at our PWI when options were few and hair care took a backseat to my school work. A Black woman got in the face of a man who was talking slick and being a bit too aggressive with me at the club. That same Black woman went on a search when some of the people in our community work space stole my heater. A real ride or die.
I met my best friend Whitney when we were in sixth grade. I remember the exact day. We were in our study hall period when all of the loose papers she had been carrying around without a binder, slipped from her grasp and ended up strewn across the floor. The papers all over the floor was unfortunate. But what made me want to know Whitney was the way she handled the situation. She cussed. Long and loud in the middle of classroom in Indiana.
In middle school, most of us cussed to some extent. Very few of us had the nerve to do it in front of our teachers. But more than that, there was such skill, such flavor in her profanity of choice that I was intrigued. Obviously, this girl had a personality and later, I would learn a fascinating story.
I learned that Whitney was brilliant in virtually every way. Brilliant scholastically, brilliant in the value she sees in people. People I would be more than ready and willing to write off. And brilliant creatively.
my life has been rich with Black women
When we were in 8th grade, Whitney created the blueprint to our dream house. Each room was not only illustrated, it included a description about the life of the person who lived there. Instead of family, the house was filled with all of our peers.
I can still tap into the feeling of wonder and amazement I felt taking in her creation. It was genius.
The following year, when we were freshmen in high school, she created a more updated version. Recently, I saw Whitney and the new house and I read the description for me and my would be my adulthood.
“Veronica is doin the damn thang right now! She started her own magazine a couple years back that set off alarms in the minds of [B]lack folk everywhere. And since a lot of people in the house needed a job she hired more of them and started a family-like business! She finally found someone who didn’t think she was a witch and got that male best friend that she deserved.”
I read those words and tears sprang to my eyes. Not only because my nigga is a prophetess. But because when we were still children she saw me.
Later that day, after visiting with Whitney I called my sister and read to her what she had written. And it was my sister that really nailed home for me the beauty of our friendship.
“She spoke life over you.”
My friend knew me, my potential, my dreams, where I was and where I would ultimately be. And while I know most of y’all reading this didn’t know the middle school version of Veronica, there were a couple of people who felt I was a little callous and closed off. I was. But Whitney knew that not only would I find someone to penetrate that exterior but more importantly, I’d walk in my purpose as a storyteller. She knew it and she affirmed it.
It’s not everyday you meet people like that. People who see, know and affirm you. I gotta keep that girl around.
“She spoke life over you.”
Every other week, there seems to be a Black woman telling the internet that there’s nothing wrong with not having any friends. These women go on and on about how women are messy, jealous and undercutting. At this point, I don’t know if these women are the problem themselves or they’re lying to TIkTok and nem just so their content can go viral. Either way, I’m so glad I can’t relate.
The other day, Whitney posted the Jon B and Babyface song Someone to Love in her Instagram stories. That song is my jam too so I immediately added it to my library. And while the lyrics were likely written with a romantic interest in mind, they certainly apply to the platonic love I have for my nigga.
Her friendship, from sixth grade until today has given me:
Someone to love
Someone to trust
Someone to hold
Oh someone to know…
Truly one of the greatest and richest blessings of my life.