Why Can’t Black Women be Friends?


I was talking with a few new female acquaintances the other day and an interesting issue surfaced. It seems that there’s a common problem black women face— other black women.

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:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shala.marks
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/shalamarks


  1. I keep hearing of this phenomenon, but I have no knowledge of it. I have never had any problems making friends with other black women no matter where I have lived. When starting a new job, especially if you work in an office setting around a lot of whites, I have found my fellow sisters to be my saving grace.

    *Just my opinion and experience if life*

  2. Dr Grace Cornish is another good read…it often states black women often compare, compete and copy one another entirely too much, know who YOU are, and black women need to broaden their horizons and be a little bit more open to date outside our race…

  3. I have experience the total opposite of acceptance from my black sista…I am a slim woman with a nice shape and I am what many would say “gorgeous” I rather be gracious but when I am out with my undereducated friend I get ” your pretty to be dark skin” or ” he like you because you look like a barbie doll or I get this from my high yellow friends “he likes you because he knows your this or that” and they one thing they never mention is I am a beautiful person INSIDE, confidentialy claim my title because I know WHO I am and WHAT I am willing to answer too and no matter what men love CONFIDENCE

  4. @The Real…I’ve heard many sistas get this comment “pretty for a dark skinned woman” from both men and women. A few “boys” said this to me back in high school. It just goes to show how, unfortunately, we’ve been so programmed to think only a certain thing is pretty. So, if men are going after a woman who doesn’t have that certain thing, it surely can’t be just because she’s pretty! Like your experience, it must be because she’s this or that(smart, funny, hardworking) but never because you’re “attractive.” It’s very sad indeed. Yet, there is hope because although you’ll hear this saying from people in the black community, there are still many sistas (and brothas) who do not feel this way and see it for the immature and tasteless mindset it is.

  5. I wish people and things such as this article would stop speaking of black women as if we are one being. Maybe because she experienced this or known of people who have experienced this does not mean all black women have experienced this. I am a black woman and all of my friends are black women so obviously we are not all experiencing this. Enough already with these block articles about black women as if we all think, feel, and experience the same things all the time. We are individuals with individual experiences, emotions, and last but not least brains.

  6. Thank you GOD for my friends, sisterhood, homies, buds and BFF’s and God has given me some of the bested friends (women) beautiful black sistas. WOW!! I can write a book! The only problems I have had with black women are the ones that are in leadership positions on the job!!! OMG!!! I work with one who is a General Manager keeps the bible at her, tell you to have a bless day, talks about GOD!! MEAN ASS HELL!! The thought of you getting promotion your chances would be better hitting the powerball! I will say this women can be mean-spirited HATE IS SPAWNED by SELF HATRED!! A lot of our beautiful sisters walk around with that and hurt people hurt people. I embrace all my sisters, I love, empower, inspire, and help them in any way I can! Always have, Always will. I am a different breed! Thank you Jesus! Thank you for my black sistas even the mean ones…

  7. I don’t agree. I know women…ALL women can be catty….that I have witness. But, I have had great conversations and moments with sistahs I don’t even know…It’s nothing like us and our natural ability to bond. I think people have agenda’s and they like to create fake issues…to break us and divide us. But, we are bigger than your bull. We didn’t get this far by not being stronger than the lies. Generalizing is ugly…PERIOD

  8. I have experience this issue within the last year. I have had three different jobs in the past year. I left the first job because my family moved to another state because of my husband’s job. I left the second because it was a stepping stone to another better paying job. So I feel I have the experience of working in different positions with different women to say yes I have experienced this type of negativity in every job I’ve worked. Every time I would start a new job it always began the same way. Because I am quiet at first people didn’t really warm up to me. Because I was not trusting either. I dressed nice and worked hard. I smiled all the time and made myself welcoming. After about three months I started to make friendships with those who trusted me enough to engage and those who still had a problem with me had no impact. I think we have to be be mindful of what we put out as well. Although I had a hard time at first once my co-workers saw my heart then I was no longer a threat at least not to the ones I connected with.

  9. This article was a great read. The only thing is, its not just “us” that do this. It women in general. One thing I can’t agree with is the constant black labeling of all things negative. I understand that we are focusing on “us” as a whole to learn how to uplift each other but because this is an age of social media, other races are getting access to the problems that black people are facing and now beginning to treat us worse than we treat ourselves. Crazy! But I will say this, it was hard for me to gain friends as a child because kids can be mean PERIOD. As an adult I have female friends that will be my friends forever. I think women can be picky as to who they surround themselves with mainly because they can’t relate to them. Bing in different places in their lives and ultimately just not happy with themselves. It shouldn’t be such emphasis on creating friends but more of letting yourself be known in a more positive way and be good to other people. Don’t think about just live your life. I’ve had to literally walk up and talk to women as if I knew them after knowingly being talked about, just to break the ice of judgement. Not confronting or anything, just being a down right good person. It may not be necessary to you but it makes people second guess what they do to you and say about you if you come across approachable and relateable. And again its a WOMAN THING not just a BLACK WOMAN THING.

  10. I like this a lot. It’s something that I can relate to. I understand that you’re speaking from an experience and everyone may not be familiar. But I am. I would like for Black Women to stick together, not compare, nor compete. And I feel like you captured what I was trying to get at in my poem, “A Classy Woman’s Struggle.” You couldn’t have said it better. We give men power when we’re the ones that have it. IF we could work together to strengthen our sisterhood, then we could spend more time congratulating and complimenting each other. Ultimately, we’re individuals, regardless of our ethnicity, gender, age, or other characteristics that group us together. It really is about who we are individually. Great read Shala!!!!!

  11. I have experienced difficulty with maintaining black female friendships. As Ive gotten older Ive realized that you cant take these kinds of things personal. Ill meet an independent,successful and most times attractive (and yes, i do give other sisters their p’s–we deserve it) black female and ill be excited at the prospect of developing a friendship with someone i could possible have something in common with and relate to but it unfortunately never really seems to come to fruition. I do understand that building friendships requires effort and that everyone is not at the same place in their lives and maybe they are lookong for something different in a friendship but i truly believe it needs to be a two way street. Its not the easiest thing to meet other females and it becomes very deflating each time you meet someone only to eventually discover theres nothing there past the initial connection. Any advice?

  12. I really do think that this is an issue that plagues women in general, as others have expressed. You could just as easily ask, “Why can’t pretty women get along?” or something across those lines. However, as a Black woman I can say from personal experience that it sometimes is difficult to be friends with other Black women, even sadly including friendships with family members. I come from a majority White area, but for whatever reason it was usually only the other Black girls who decided to cause problems with me. I was quiet, nice, and didn’t bother anybody, but somehow I was accused of being stuck up, thinking I was “all that,” and “acting like a White girl” (I was always placed in classes with the White kids because of my grades and the classes I chose to enroll in), and other things, and it even got so bad that violence almost came into the picture several times, and this all came from girls I didn’t even know. There were some other Black girls who I was friends with and I loved our friendships, but they were usually the girls who were new to the area or girls who actually got to know me when we spent time hanging out one way or the other. I had some acquaintances, but I wouldn’t call them friends because of the negative energy that seemed to enter my life through them. When I went to college really was the first time I had been around so many other Black girls who were nice and inviting. It seriously shocked me the first time one of them walked into a room and smiled and said, “Hello!” to me, the quiet girl sitting alone in the corner lol. Though there was still the typical girl drama there, I found friends that I loved so much I called them my “sisters from other misters.” The friendships between Black women, like all friendships, is a beautiful thing and can be like no other. I’ve seen WAY too many moments of love and support from sista to sista to believe that it’s hard for Black women in general to be friends, like when I see how many of us connect over natural hair or problems that are unique to us. So, while there may be cases where some of us are singled out by other Black women to be the target of their drama, I really believe that most Black women aren’t hard to get along with, just the ones who are immature and/or bitter inside for whatever reason (most likely jealousy) and want to take it out on the easiest targets. And women of ALL races do that. One love.

  13. I am half white and half black. I have always tried to make friends with Black women. Yet, it never works out. Now that I am in my 30’s I put no effort in being friends with Black women. I am always hurt and used when I am friends with a Black woman. The only Black women I am friends with are my 100% Black half sisters. I wish I could keep Black females as friends but I just give up. I am getting too old for the games. It’s very hurtful to not feel accepted by my own race. I have never had a problem with other race of women. Asian, Latino, White…….. they all treat me better than Black women.

  14. @SISTA, were you speaking about me and my personal experience?????? I hope everyone’s personal journey can be considered valid. I judge no one but I must acknowledge my experiences with people and move pass negativity.

  15. This unfortunately is an epidemic in the black race. Black women are combative, abusive and negative. We bully and intimidate each other to no avail. Im sorry, yes I am a black woman but unfortunately I rarely come across black women with positive personalities. I recently started yoga for the new year and I am 1/5 black people in a class of 20. I see the other races interacting but the blacks? I struck up a conversation about Scandal with a fair skinned sista and she promptly told me she doesn’t have time to watch tv. Who doesn’t watch Scandal??? Watching one television show doesn’t make you a couch potato. Small talk try it sometime? We alienate all forms of threats or what we deem to be competition. Education, materials (car, purses etc), articulation, colorism, hair (good vs bad hair), and men. I’m well spoken and carry myself with high self esteem but unfortunately most black women are easily threatened by upward mobility. Each time I visit the mall or a local merchant, I cringe at the customer service dispensed by our young black females towards black females that appear to be thriving. Its down right diabolical. I have transfered within my industry due to sabotage from black female coworkers. We have to stop being disingenuous and bitter and mean-spirited. I’ve opted to continue to make friends with women of different races its just easier. I thought with each stage of development in my life I would make substantial connections with black women, still hasn’t occurred. All women of all races hate but seriously black women our hate is extreme. The general rhetoric is black women are drama-filled. We already battle the media’s interpretation of our character, ladies lets move towards warmth, compassion and love. If she could obtain that level of success its obtainable for you also. We don’t exist in a prism. We serve an abundant God, he is limitless in his dispensation.

  16. Omg! This article is exactly what I needed after my day! It is my life’s story!! I am from Kenya and have lived in the U.S since I was 3. Among being a college student, I do small jobs to help out at home and with my own finances. I won’t lie that I need to have more patience and self control when it comes to dealing with others and their alternative motives. I do not instantly go off but give everyone about 3 chances to disrespect me but it eventually piles up and I go off on an emotional rant and let them know how aggressive I can be! It just seems everytime there is a black woman in any position of power, they go out of their way to give me a hard time! I feel like no matter what position they are in it always comes down to some petty childish game of “you look better than me so Im going to get you out of this place”. Even those not in a position of power almost seem to be working together at times to get rid of you or drain you with petty bullshit to get to you. Even outside of work, I can’t keep black girlfriends. They compete and compete with me and size me up and are catty to me through comments meant to hurt me but they pretend like they are joking! They don’t want to be my friend and feel like I will take their men or more guys will find me attractive. The only friends I can keep are those of another race because we aren’t in the same category. It is rly sad how hard black women work to tear eachother down when there are sooo few of us in management positions! We should be partners and work to all make. Sometimes I feel like being beautiful and intelligent as a black woman is a curse because NOBODY will like you! Grown women feel some inner bitterness because they made the wrong choices in their life to get pregnant young, have kids by a man or a few who has no involvement with them apart from that and choose not to go to school or eat right and exercise and instead of saying, “hey sis, I did wrong and want to see you do better because your younger than me”, it’s this “im going to put you in your place because I think you have it easy and im in the place to give you a hard time!”. It is really sad with black women and the way they are eachother’s worst enemy. People do not talk about this issue enough and it is time to start the conversation.

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