5 Signs You Really Know A Person

There's a world of difference between knowing someone and knowing of or about them.


If there are three words that I personally think get abused (or misused) a lot, it's "love," "friend," and "know". I mean, think about it — how is that the same word you would use for your favorite flavor of ice cream is the same word you would use to describe how you feel about your significant other (love)? Or, when you think about all that you and your bestie have been through, how do the people you barely speak to — let alone see — on social media get the same title as they do (friend)?

Most of y'all probably feel me on those two words, but "know"? What's my issue with that?

I always found it interesting, and also pretty cool, that if you read the New King James Version of the Bible, when it talks about a husband having sex with his wife, "knew" is the word that's used (Genesis 4:25). He wasn't smashin' or hittin' — he was getting to know her better.

To me, it cosigns what I think about the word "know"; that, in many ways, just like when it comes to love or friend, it's a sacred word. Folks can't be out here just casually claiming to know someone. There should be a certain kind of criteria that qualifies them to say that. For starters, the five following things must apply.

What It Means To Really Know Someone

You've Had Bonafide Shared Experiences with Each Other

"Know" is a pretty layered word. Two of my favorite definitions of it are "to perceive or understand as fact or truth" and "to understand from experience or attainment." If you know someone, you've experienced some things with them. Experiences are personal accounts.

When I think of experiences, I think of good times and tough times. I think of the people who were there for me during my latest heartbreak or the ones who can call me when they are short on a bill. Even when I think about the people I've gone to the movies with or had lunch with, it served some kind of a purpose beyond the surface. So yeah, for someone to say that they know me, we've spent some personal time together. Definitely.

They've Consistently Communicated with You Within the Last 12-16 Months

How is it that supposedly it takes 21 days to break a habit, but someone who hasn't spoken to you in five years is able to say that they know you? Shoot, with all of the self-work I've done over the past year or so, I barely know me (that's a joke— kinda), so I know folks I haven't seen since college don't.

Even the guys who've known me in the biblical sense, because it's been so long ago, I don't profess to know anymore. I'm pretty sure their anatomy hasn't changed, but time changes people mentally and emotionally, so hopefully they've evolved to the point where it's more accurate to say that I knew them.

My point? A part of the reason why we call people on the phone or take trips with them, etc. is so that we can remain connected to them throughout all of the things in life that change us over time. Things that evolve us and (hopefully) mature us.

I won't lie. Being away from some folks feels like missing two years of a soap opera; you see them again and it's like you didn't miss a thing. But overall, if it's been 1-1½ years and you haven't been in touch with someone, it's pretty bold to claim that you know them. Same goes for them professing that they know you.

Because think about it — if someone knows you so well unless they are in another country without phone access, why haven't you connected with them on some level within the past year-and-a-half anyway?!

Your Relationship with Them Goes Beyond Social Media

Personally, I haven't been on social media for almost a decade, so I'll tread softly here. I will say that when I was on it, the platform was Facebook and my page was pretty much a place where folks would debate hot topics. Aside from counseling, I wasn't doing a lot of "caring and sharing" on there, though. I prefer to get on the phone to do that. To this day, my circle knows that if you have my number (which might be 10 people, literally), that means you know me; that we really are homies.

However, I do know a lot of people who will comment on celebrities or even just people they follow online like they are close friends with them based on what those folks post on their own pages. Listen, people show you what they want you to see. Don't let that make you think that you truly know them, though.

Just because you see things about someone doesn't mean you know them.

They Can Provide More Details than Gossip

Remember how one of the definitions of the word "know" is someone who has facts and truth? Chile, is there more that needs to be said on this one? Who can you say you know facts (opinions are not facts) about? Who can say they know the truth (opinions are not truth either) about you?

For the record, some gossip is truth. But if you let someone into your life to the point that they know you, they shouldn't be the kind of folks who would tell your business. Feel me?

If someone professes to know you and it's only based on hearsay, they don't. They know what they heard, and 7 times out of 10, either that has very little to do with the real you or the people in your circle talk too much and you need to set new boundaries when it comes to dealing with the people you know.

You Agree with Them

This one is my favorite. Knowing is about intimacy and it's hard to be truly intimate when it's one-sided. There used to be a time when, whenever someone would come to me with something they heard from someone who claimed to "know" me, I got frustrated. These days, I don't because no one can claim to know me without my agreeing with them that they do.

I say that because no one knows the truth and facts about me like I do. Therefore, I have a say on who thinks that they do.

Right now, I know who can confidently say that they know me. We've been through some things together, we've connected within the past couple of months (at least), they have my phone number, they've got facts on me (not all of them are stellar but I will admit they are the truth) and there is a mutual intimacy between us.

Yeah. It feels good to know and be known. It feels even better to know I've got total control over that being the case.

Sis, so do you.

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
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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