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?