Why Talking About Your Friends Is Actually Normal

The Case For Talking About Your Friends Behind Their Back

What About Your Friends?

Your girlfriends, sisters, ride or dies. Your circle. The intimate group of people you've chosen as family. On the surface, especially on social media, we see these tight-knit groupings of women all the time. They're at brunch, on vacation, shopping together, or posing it up for the 'gram. Beyond that, they are the group of friends that are unequivocally there for each other, the highlight reel on social media doesn't touch the depths of this kind of friendship.

These circles are not peaches and cream. Being in a close circle, I've experienced the ebbs and flows that occur within friend groups. The real moments that cannot be captured in a TV show, although the depictions in Insecure come close. Adult female friendships are complicated, especially within a group. While everyone is friends all together, each person has their relationship with one another. The dynamic of each bond will vary. We see this in shows like Insecure. Molly, Tiffany, and Kelli are Issa's girls, but Molly is her BFF. She's going to her first when it's time to stalk her new guy who's ghosted her, just like you'd go to your best friend with a ridiculous endeavor that she'll hastily oblige.

I think many women know where they stand within their circle. It's not to say that there is a pecking order, it means that you understand how everyone feels about you. While it's all love, like you'd turn to a particular friend for one thing, the same goes for your girls. Everyone is close, but there are levels of closeness.

This intermixture is not a bad thing because every person in your life has their place.

Women are discursive. We like to talk a lot. The growth of blooming friendships rested on many verbal exchanges as you realize how much you have in common. I can recall spending countless hours on the phone talking to my gal-pals about any and everything as a teenager. Today when we meet up, the room is full of love and laughter centered around discourse. As we get older though, the nature of our conversations speaks on the friendship's foundation and growth, but one thing that remains the same is the lighthearted chats and belly laughs.

The saying is true, "We all have that one friend," however not in the same context. But we do have that one friend to call as soon as we get good news, that one friend whose house we can show up unannounced, that one friend who is down to put on all black and roll up with you on your man when he acting different. And even that one friend that we vent to, even about our other friends.

There is this unspoken custom that is hardly brought up but does occur. We talk about our friends.

Most people's minds will go to the negative, however there is a thin line between venting and gossiping. At times our friends annoy us. Maybe there was a misunderstanding or something they said. Talking about it with a mutual friend will help you blow off little frustration before you address the matter. Then the big blow ups can affect everyone. The ones not seeing eye to eye are going to talk about the problem, sometimes to the same friend. Getting that person's perspective can be healthy because they know you and the other friend, so they'll assess the situation from a neutral ground and be able to offer personal advice.

This isn't a case of you throwing your friend in the dirt, but expressing how you feel, your anger or disappointment.

Some things you don't mean come up but that comes from a place of hurt. In an ideal world, we'd be able to confront the issue as soon as possible, that is the better option, but it's not realistic. We like to think that these situations should only remain with those involved and sometimes it should. Not everyone in the group has to be brought in, because as grown women, we are capable of settling things ourselves. However, we work off emotion, and when you mix that with connection and history, sometimes it means taking a step back to evaluate how to move forward. Discussing it outside of that person but within your circle can help you realize if you want to rectify or not.

We talk about those close to us not in a deceptive way but because of frustration.

It's a no shade, no foul. If you find yourself continually talking about the same friend, are you their friend? Some important questions need to be addressed about why they're your frequent topic of discussion. To the outsider it's shady, which is it is. But it's also a revelation that frequencies aren't aligning or that there is a toxic person in the group (sometimes that person is you).

One rule many expect of their friends is that what is discussed stays between those a part of the conversation. This secrecy is crucial for trust. Your friend should not doubt that personal things they've confided in you will be talked about with your other gals. Secrets are meant to be kept between who they're shared with. Sometimes we can get carried away in conversation and say something we shouldn't. It's not intentional, maybe you assume the friend knows already, or you're used to sharing on a regular basis and keeping them in the loop. But just because everyone is close doesn't mean everything is known between each other.

Knowing what to share and what is off limits is essential.

Don't deny that this doesn't happen within your circle. Everyone can be as tight as double-knit rope but talking about one another is inescapable of any friendship. It's the nature of these conversations that determine what is right or wrong. It isn't shit talking or lousy speech, it's discussion that will not be taken seriously or held against your friend.

It's comical - Your friend kissed a total stranger at the bar after one too many cocktails.

It's not serious - Your friend isn't the best cook.

It's exciting news - Your friend just landed a new job.

It's necessary - Your friend is having a hard time with a family matter.

If you're someone who thinks this is a form of betrayal or shade, then you don't understand how circles work. As a friend, your expectations may be too high. These people are your tribe, the people you know and trust the most. What they say about you when you're not there is either light, funny, or a matter that needs to be discussed. It happens. You should have the confidence and understanding for what comes out their mouth is not of ill intent.

A rule of thumb: to receive sincerity is to practice what you expect from your friends.

As we get older, the bonds of your circle are tested more than when everyone was schoolgirls still figuring themselves out. Now is where the validity of friendships shows its true colors. If you have to question the closest people to you or vice versa, then maybe it is telling you something you didn't know before. One thing to remember is with solid friendships there should be no doubt.

Featured image by Getty Images

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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.


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
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