I don’t befriend other Black women. Why? I don’t even have the answer to that which is weird because I grew up in a predominantly African-American neighborhood and attended a high school that had a great number of African-American students. My friends from pre-school through college were Puerto Rican, Greek, Cambodian, Bi-Racial, White and Native-American girls and Black boys. But never Black girls.

Noticing the trend, I’m trying to befriend other African-American women but I’m finding it difficult to connect with other women in their 20s. A part of me believes my possible resentment towards other African-American women stems from the mean girls who bullied me when I was younger.

I spent my elementary and middle school years shying away from girls, and using my friendships with boys, sports and arts as a shield. Wrestling and playing football seemed more appealing than being verbally jabbed by the jump rope hustlers in the schoolyard, so I stayed away.

But playing sports only contributed to the harassment. Because I wore cut off jeans and loose t-shirts rather than miniskirts and tank tops, the girls would spread rumors about me being gay. Normally, I waited until I was home to shed my tears, but on one particular day, I barely made it to the bathroom. It was then that I decided I HATED girls. But now I see that the hate only trickled down to the women I’ve longed to call my sisters.

On the bus and in the classroom, I’ve always felt more comfortable sitting next to anyone who wasn’t an African-American female. I’ve heard many people say they feel uncomfortable when they’re the only minority in a room, but I feel the opposite. When I’m in a room filled with African-Americans I feel left out. I feel like I’m missing out on something amazing and have no way to be a part of it. My shyness and insecurity is ruining potential relationships and connections I can possess.

Now, I hardly have any female friends. The girls I befriended over the past few years come and go. I hold romantic relationships longer than my friendships. My closest friend to date is African-American, and it amazes me how long we have been friends. I don’t do anything to break the friendships; I just don’t take the time to nurture them.

On my college campus, I see groups of African-American women bonding in the library, classroom and student organizations I’ve tried to join. Maybe I’ve been too wrapped up in my non-Black circle because now I feel threatened and overwhelmed whenever I’m around Black women. When a group of girls are standing behind me, I become that little girl again and assume the laughing and giggling is about me. Everywhere I go I see mean girls. Girls who make fun of people, start confrontations with one another and blatantly disrespect themselves and the people around them. I often see this in the young African-American women in my community and it saddens me. Now I just close up whenever I’m around the women I should love and embrace the most.

Not sure what I can do to help my Black social anxiety. Maybe I’m being too analytical. I now know that I don’t just hate girls; I feel just inferior to the ones who look just like me. But how can I change?

 

 

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  • Humanista

    Very honest post…I spent elementary through high school in majority-white environments. I experienced similar harassment growing up by black girls about not being “black” (read: hood) enough because I did well in school, had white friends, and spoke like the average Midwesterner. Once I got to HS, though, I had a more diverse group of friends, but NO black female friends. It wasn’t intentional, but I tended to stick with people who had similar priorities and interests (ie. how most people pick their friends). The fact was, I was “weird” to many black students (not just women) because I wasn’t from the hood and didn’t pretend to be because it was the “only” way to “be black”.

    I attended college at an HBCU and made THE most amazing black female friends, and I feel like that only happened because I was in an environment where being who you were was enough, whereas I’d always lived places where everyone (blacks and non-blacks) accepted the claim that the black stereotype WAS blackness, and those who were black felt they had to be a certain way to retain their identity.

    I say all this because I think the only way you can make friends is in a place of honesty and acceptance of who people are. Be open to friendship, don’t stereotype other black women like you’ve bee stereotyped. You have to be honest w/ yourself about your baggage and work to move past it. And know, there are nasty white/Asian/Hispanic/etc. girls too! (believe me!). You are no safer avoiding black women. I think it’s critically important to have black women in your life as a black woman, so do what you need to do to get over the hurt so you can start bonding. And don’t go friending women just cuz their black after you come out of avoiding them for it! Just be open to the fact that black women are individuals, like you, and you and them are worthy of meaningful, healthy friendships.

    • Humanista

      you and THEY*** ….oh boy o_O

  • You are not the only one. I never really have that many black friends in general. The only black people I ever become close is my immediate family (parents, sister, few cousins, grandparents). I also am close to people of other races.

    Of course, there are people who discriminate because of racism. And there are those who discriminate because someone thinks and behaves differently. The solution is just being and accepting who you are and finding the right people to love you no matter what.

  • Nicola

    I’m Black and grew up in 80% Mexican-American and Mexican neighborhood. However, my parents sent me to an all White, Republican, Christian-coalition, private school 45 minutes away from my small working-class, Mexican town.

    I had serious self-esteem issues during the 1980’s and 1990’s attending the all-White private school due to class and race since I was blue collar and Black. However, it was a pleasant relief to come home after school everyday, and be surrounded by Mexicans, even though I’m not Mexican.

    When I became old enough, I developed a real hatred for White people, which I still wrestle with to this day. I also openly admitted to people that I couldn’t stand White people, but at the same time I found “ghetto” Black people embarrassing and worked hard to disassociate myself from them. Why? The Black people that attended my church as a child, were financially secure and wealthy; they always said horrible things about “ghetto” Black people and contributed to the internalized racism. Every Black child that I encountered in my peer group was very rich and mean to me because I wasn’t rich and part of the “Black elite.” I also had to go to school with openly racist White kids who were drinking the Ronald Regan kool-aid and were mean to me because I was from a working class background and Black. However, I was also indoctrinated into being mean to my fellow Black peers. I was indoctrinatd by the media, rich White classmates, and rich Black church members. Such a strange vicious cycle, isn’t it?

    So growing up around Mexicans, I thought that Mexico and Mexicans were the promised land. I’ve always been treated well by Latinos, even though I’m not Latina. It was my positive experience with people of color (non-whites) as a child and adolescent.

    Things were so bad, regarding race and racism (at least in my mind) that I left the U.S. at a very young age. As soon as I was legally old enough to get a passport and take flight alone, I did just that. I’ve been to 30 countries as a result and speak several languages. I’m not patriotic to the United States at all, quite the opposite, but, I do recognize that I’ve had to deal with some definitive personal issues surrounding race and class.

    When I turned 30, the self-hatred about being Black stopped. It came to a grinding halt. I don’t know why, it just did one day. One day I woke up and had an “F the world attitude.” I’m not sure what happened. I love myself and I love Black people. We still have jerks in our community, we have wolves, we have sheep, but we have sweet kind people too. I have Black female friends now that I’m in my 30’s and I never did in the past. They are ALL from Canada, Europe, and Latin America. Only one of my Black female friends was born on U.S. soil. In my case the problem wasn’t just internalized racism from the media and American society, it was two-fold; my problem was that I just didn’t like Americans (of any hue) and I couldn’t stand some fundamental, unchanging, consistent, negative facts about American culture and history.

    I’m almost 40, I have friends from all over the world. All of my Black friends are international. I wish I had more friends who were Black and from the U.S., but it’s ok. I still find American cultural values and history revolting, but I don’t have any self-hatred about being Black and I have many Black friends. I think that everyone is on a journey and has to find the road to self-acceptance, self-love, and learn to separate the gems from rocks.

  • Very interesting article. I’m sorry that bad experiences have led the author to feel this way. I’m of mixed-race (Black & Italian-American) and my experience is that I’m very comfortable around Black women. I feel that I can relate on a strong level with women of color because of my cultural & family background, perspective, and upbringing; at times, moreso with Black women than some Caucasian woman, actually. I have a great deal of respect for all races, cultures, and communities and will be friendly with anyone who is a kind and genuine person, however. I think the key to understanding here is realizing that everyone’s an individual. The African-American women the author encountered were expressing their own individual issues and were placing it unjustly on another person. Bad behavior of some doesn’t represent an entire group and only shows that there are people out there of ALL races who have massive chips on their shoulders for a variety of reasons. Take each person as an individual, that’s definitely the key. :)