Quantcast

How To Build A Squad of Empowering Friends

Love & Relationships

What makes a genuine girlfriend?

It's a question often asked, but rarely answered in the best way. To build a life-long relationship with a group of girls, how does that work?

Like most, I've had my share of failed friendships. In high school, I had so many different groups of friends that it was hard find someone who liked me for me. In college, as a biracial young women in a historically white sorority, I didn't know if anyone would truly understand me, and being an independent woman in the South, where I'm at the age of getting married and having babies, who will truly support my career aspirations?

My journey to solid friendships have been littered by fakers, posers and users. If you're any sort of decent person, and especially when you're younger, it can be hard to tell who has your best interest at heart and who's there for the glory.

As you get older and get hurt by life, it can be a bit easier. Right after college I realized the importance of having people to depend on. There I was, 22 with a slew of "friends" but absolutely nobody to talk to. Sure, I had some childhood friends, but we hadn't spoken about real world stuff in years; there were my sorority sisters, but did they really care about the ups and downs of my mediocre life? Sure, we all got drunk together at mixers, tailgates and various functions, but did they even see the world like I did?

Not everyone in your circle is beneficial for your growth.

I found myself alone in a sea of people, something I never understood until that moment. That's when I started taking inventory of my friend stock. Who was really there for me? Who was just using me for good connections or a place to stay for the weekend?

Let me start by saying this: women aren't bad. I'm not writing this article to bash women and the relationships they have. I'm merely stating that not everyone in your circle is beneficial for your growth.

Thankfully, there are likeminded women out there who are looking for equally fulfilling friendships, but first you have to recognize who should be a part of your circle and who you may need to let go. Here are three things to look for when building your tribe of women who empower you to be your best you.

Your tribe should be a manifestation of your spirit.

I spent way too much time giving to my friends, making sure they were supported and fulfilled in their own journey without asking for the same in return. Because, after all, isn't friendship about giving and not expecting to receive?

In time, I began feeling like I was on a one-way street of friendship. I was focusing more on giving than getting, so I stopped giving. I took a break to see who cared, who reached out, and who actually asked me how I was doing in the world.

It was during that time one of my closest friends wrote a letter to me and, without prompt, stated, “Don't change who you are, just change the company you keep." That may seem like a 'duh' notion now, but when I got this letter it was the equivalent to a lightbulb moment.

You see, when you continually give, you get to the point where the cost outweigh the benefits. You don't want to keep caring when you feel others don't. That's the wrong way to look at it.

Instead of giving to those who aren't deserving, give to those who appreciate it.

Your tribe should be nurturing, the place you go when the world has beat you up so bad, you don't know up from down. They should be empowering, enough to get you back on the horse when you've fallen and lost your way. They should be supportive, cheering you on at every moment on every positive journey. They should fill your spirit each and every time you speak with them.

Your tribe should be honest.

This is a hard one as it also requires you to be honest with yourself. Girlfriends should not only be able to tell you when your dress is not the right fit for you body, but also when the guy you're dating is using and abusing you. Your girls should be able to, and want to be, honest with you in every aspect. I had a lot of 'yes' friends growing up, ones that didn't really care about where I ended up, so they just told me what I wanted to hear. That got me a in a lot of trouble. It led me down a path of not knowing or loving myself, a hard path to get off when you're a young woman.

Focus on women who tell you the truth, be it brutal or otherwise. A friend who has enough balls to tell you something you don't want to hear is a friend worth keeping. Once I had a friend who refused to listen to her friends. She chose to believe the lies she was being fed from her long-time boyfriend and distanced herself from everyone trying to help her. Shortly after that, she got a STD from said boyfriend after finding out he had been cheating on her the entire time and all of her friends were right. I've always taken that with me, because if you trust your friends with your clothes, hair and decor opinions - you should trust them with your life, too. If you don't, find someone you do.

Your tribe should not be judgmental.

We're all guilty of judging someone else and their actions, friend or not. A bit of judgment will always be there because it's a part of human nature. What you don't want is a friend that tells you one thing, then blabs to mutual friends about the 'horrible' or 'stupid' things you're doing. We've all had friends like this, some of us still do. Those people are best kept at a distance. If you think of your life as a theater, they should be standing room--only available when another might be occupied.

I had a toxic friend like that for years. I was never sure what I did that made her so venomous to me when talking with others, but it never stopped.

It gave me severe anxiety and made me doubt my abilities as a friend because I couldn't figure it out. But, the answer was simple: She didn't love herself enough, so of course she couldn't love me. Some people are just that way. Their judgments come from doubting or even hating themselves, which is only going to filter into your life the same way. Choose friends that don't hold judgements against you, that allow you to make mistakes and learn lessons without constantly reminding you of who you were.

Friends are meant to represent different sides of your personality, different realms of your life. Girlfriends, especially, should not only represent those but challenge those realms. They should listen when you say you're hurt; they should not only celebrate the the victories, but cry and pick you up from your losses.

I've questioned my friendships more than most, but now I've build a strong, beneficial and beautiful group of girlfriends. Being as we've had the year of the woman in 2017, let's make 2018 the year of empowerment. Because that's exactly what your girl squad does – empower you in all that you do.

What do you look for in your squad?

Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.

This is Maya's story, written by Charmin Michelle.

I know this may come to a surprise so many, but here we are. Yes, I got a BBL. If you aren't aware, a BBL is a Brazilian Butt Lift, a cosmetic surgery process where the doctor uses a combination of liposuction and fat-grafting, transfers the fat into the butt, resulting in added volume, defined curves, and a lift. It is technically lipo and a fat transfer. But yeah girl, this has been on my to-do list for a while. And now that I am able to afford it, I went for it.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

The season I look forward to the most every year is Resort. Even if you haven't had an opportunity to enjoy a proper getaway this season, now is the time to get your last-minute plans in order as the final moments of summer quickly come to an end. While you can always find a sunny destination to travel any time of the year, this is the perfect time to take advantage of the final warm weather looks before fall inventory completely takes over.

Keep reading... Show less

It's still the early stages of this so-called post-pandemic life, and with graduates finally entering the workforce or taking their next steps toward true adulting, many might be wondering, "Where do I start?" True, life's been a roller coaster ride, but we're here to help with a list of best cities for millennials to work.

Keep reading... Show less

Black love deserves celebration. And it deserves celebration for multiple reasons. Because of our history, love for each other has been a necessity to survive. By choosing each other, we literally do it for the culture by continuing folklore and manifestations of our human intellectual achievements. Our genetic makeup has always been grounded in resilience — the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and toughness. Black love creates balance, space, growth, and change making for a fundamental part of our identities.

Keep reading... Show less

Adulting is hard but packing up and moving from one living space to the next is even harder. As a young adult, leaving home to attend college 300 miles away, I was yearning for a change of scenery so much so I couldn't wait to pack my belongings and head to sunny southern California. With each transition, it wasn't an easy task, however, nine years and 10 roommates later, I finally have a place to call my own. As liberating as it is to be in a space that's all mine, this move is unlike any other. As a single woman, the responsibility of uprooting myself has been more challenging than I ever imagined. More than just saving dreamy home decor inspiration via Pinterest, making "my house a home" has been a process that's easier said than done.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Find Confidence With This Summer Workout Created By A Black Woman For Black Women

Tone & Sculpt trainer Danyele Wilson makes fitness goals attainable.

Latest Posts