Sister to Sister: To Black Girls with Fading Hopes of Sisterhood

Dear Soul Sister,

I know how hard it can be when you long for meaningful connections with women rooted in trust, respect, openness, honesty, and mutual admiration. All around you, you are being conditioned into seeing your sisters as the competition, the enemy, as someone to distrust. But you have not been misled. You know that the bonds of authentic sisterhood can be life sustaining. That sometimes it only takes one compassionate act from a distant sister to become re-invigorated by her spirit…by the greatness overflowing from her being. You sometimes daydream about how rewarding it would be if only you had the opportunity to connect with a circle of women that encourage you, challenge you, and support your continual growth. Even still, establishing lifelong bonds with progressive women who are committed to resisting and unlearning the myths of our existence has slipped from your grasp.

Every year, sometimes a couple times a year, I complete a friendship audit. I examine the people in my life and think about how we add value to each other’s lives. I consider whether our interaction is healthy, if we can have open dialogue, and then I reflect on the nature of our discussions. This exercise can be very revealing. Sometimes it becomes painstakingly clear that the dynamics I’ve grown accustomed to are simply emotionally unhealthy, limiting, or one-sided. At times, I have examined those closest to me and realized that I had very few women in my life that I really felt connected to without reservation or pause.

I’ve witnessed distance permeate my female friendships after exciting romantic relationships flourished. I’ve witnessed friendships abruptly collapse over false accusations and distrust. I’ve been disappointed, I’ve been hurt, I’ve been angry, I’ve been perplexed, but I’ve also been introspective. I’ve examined the role I’ve played in the breakdown of once meaningful woman-to-woman bonds, but most of all I haven’t retired my desire to connect, to love, to trust my fellow sisters. We are united through our shared history, through our persistent marginalization in a variety of public spaces, and through our right to be recognized as whole women not caricatures of our diverse experiences. Maybe you’ve given up hope that establishing meaningful bonds with other supportive young women is possible. Maybe you’ve written off women as a source of distress.

But we are all flawed, and, if we’re lucky, we’re in a perpetual process of becoming. So wipe away your tears young love. Replace your pain with compassion and commit to being the sister you wish you had in your life. Acknowledge the hurt. Acknowledge your anger. Acknowledge every bit of your being, and when the threat of silence attempts to swallow you whole, give birth to revolutionary love. I can’t see your face, but I love you unconditionally. I honor you. I stand by you, always.

With loving-kindness,