The first woman explained how difficult it seemed to be for her to meet “genuine” girlfriends, even after living in a new city for the past year. She’d noticed the women she ran into had ulterior motives, i.e. they only invited her out to “size her up” and determine whether or not she was worthy to be a part of their group—was she “too pretty” and going to get all the attention? Too intelligent? Dressed better than the others? Apparently, she wasn’t worthy.
The second woman was dealing with the issue of status. The black women at her job were all in a clique and felt like they were “it.” They were the best, the baddest, and anyone who was anyone associated themselves with these ladies. So, here comes woman two grinding, working her butt off and making connections. She networks and quickly builds an impressive clientele. Yet, instead of embracing this new sista, the clique quickly tries to bring her down, wondering how and why she could be so successful without them. Who does she think she is? She hasn’t even been here that long; how is she getting those types of clients? She aint even all that!
Now, maybe you’re like me and thinking, perhaps this cattiness only comes with a certain age group of black women—the older the more mature, right? Wrong. One of the ladies was 23, the other over 30 and, sadly, I’ve heard of this same issue affecting women of all ages in between.
Why is it so difficult nowadays for black women to befriend one another? I have black female friends, but I’m certainly no stranger to the “side eye.” You know the one: where another sista (who doesn’t even know you) looks you up and down as you pass by, or, for whatever reason, keeps glancing back at you with that stank face.
It’s really disheartening.
So, the ladies and I continued chatting about why we think this happens so much. Why do black women often treat one another as less than a sista and more like a threat?
My first guess? Men. You see, most women are looking to “get chosen” (as my best friend would say). If we don’t have a man, we ultimately want one. We want to get picked, to be the ultimate victor from the plethora of other options. So, other women, especially attractive, become competition. Unfortunately, we give men too much power.
One of the ladies had a different, but valid and much more accurate perspective: It’s not that we give men too much power, it’s the fact that we don’t realize we do. Women have the power, the lady said. We don’t have to allow a man’s opinion on who we are and how we should look control our thoughts and actions, yet many of us unknowingly turn this over to them so easily—and often, it starts at a young age.
If I see a beautiful black woman, hair laid like nobody’s business, intelligent and “got her own,” I don’t have to perceive her as a threat to who I am as a woman. Her attractiveness, her style, and her intellect doesn’t lessen that of my own, no matter if the fellas prefer her or not.
Just because it’s common for black men to say their preference is “red bones” doesn’t mean you gotta’ roll your eyes at every lightskinned girl. Don’t give them your power.
So what if the men run after the “thicka than a snicka” ladies and look past your slim frame. No need to go around calling all the thick girls fat. Don’t give them your power.
I’m reading “Understanding the Purpose and Power of Women” by Dr. Myles Monroe and he writes, “I am in control of whose opinions are important.” Ladies, we are in control.
If you define what is beautiful, intelligent and acceptable to you, you’ll be confident in yourself and what you bring to the table. Your perspective won’t be jaded and influenced by that of men, others or society in general. In turn, you’ll find it that much easier (and refreshing) to replace “hate” with “congratulate” when you see a sista, one of your own, on her A game. Contrary to popular belief, it actually feels good to give credit where credit is due and uplift another woman.
In a society that works so hard to bring the black woman down, shouldn’t we at least be able to depend on one another for support and encouragement? Many of us experience the same fight and the same struggles. It’s time we stop acting like enemies and more like the “sistas” we claim to be.
Share your thoughts, ladies. Have you had a difficult time befriending other black women?
Service is her passion, writing is her platform, women and the Black Community are her avenues. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Connect with her at: