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I Asked 5 White Women What They've Learned From Having Friendships With Black Women

Can white women and black women really be friends in today's climate?

Human Interest

Racial tensions in America are unquestionably tense at this moment. It's literally a matter of cut off—a point where we are forced to make the decision to dismantle friendships for simply not agreeing with political party. But even during this clear societal line-in-the-sand era, I knew there had to be friendships that have stood the test of time, so I went on a hunt.

How many genuine black/white women friendships are there? And are those friendships ones that have sustained a true connection?

Well, to answer, you'd be surprised how difficult it was to find authentic black/white woman friendships based on the criteria set for this article. And with this criteria, my search became that much more difficult (feel free to email me if you want to know what the criteria was). Just know, we have a long way to go.

Eventually, I found some queens willing to discuss their journeys as they sat down with us and got candid about all things friendship. This is what I learned:

Charliegh DiMaggio

Charliegh (L) and Rachel (R)

Location: Chino, CA

Length of Friendship: 6 years

I met my best friend, Rachel, while in nursing school in Florida. We needed to carpool with someone and it took both of us a couple of weeks to start because we were both hesitant. But from the first ride, we've been soul sisters. Years of drinking wine, eating doughnuts, and being foodies together blossomed from these moments.

Rachel is literally one of the best people I know. She is kind and generous; would do anything for her family and friends. No matter the situation, she always has a smile on her face and makes everyone around her laugh. She's pushed me through some really tough times. We call ourselves Grey and Yang from Grey's Anatomy. No matter what, they're always there for each other and understand and respect each other’s differences.

My favorite thing about our friendship is just seeing Rachel grow so much. She's learned to love herself more. Pushed herself out of her comfort zone; exploring the unknown. I hope I have played a part in that.

I admittedly grew up in a racist household, so Rachel and I have definitely had many discussions on racism in the world today. Mostly about the different experiences she has had and some of the things that I have seen. It can really be tough at times to talk about, but necessary. The biggest lesson that I have learned is that we have to stand up for one another. Educate people who may be ignorant, show people how the world can be if we had less hate. Stand up for the people that we love and to cherish and respect those friendships that are true, and support other women in all situations.

Click to follow Charliegh and Rachel on Instagram!

Courtney Riley

Phoenix (L) and Courtney (R)

Location: Fort Collins, CO

Length of Friendship: 2 years

Phoenix and I met at an event for the non-profit organization, Big Green Foundation (co-founded by Kimbal Musk, Elon Musk's brother). We were immediately drawn to each other's personalities.

Phoenix is very open and honest, more than most people I know. We have a frankness and comfort with each other, which magnifies our friendship when it comes to advice and/or those times when either of us could use emotional support. We are both each other's cheerleaders. And, of course, we love to get together and go out for a glass of wine (she always dresses better than me).

I was really successful when I was in my 20's and early 30's. I'm at a period in my life where I feel I'm getting a bit burnt out now, but Phoenix—(laughs)—Phoenix is on the other end of the spectrum. She is highly-driven and successful, and it reminds me of when I was in her position. It inspires me to be better and to continue striving.

What have I learned most about my friendship with a limitless black woman? It doesn't matter what I say to her, nothing seems to bother her. She is unfazed, resilient, and just keeps going. She has a different perspective on race issues and has educated and made me more aware. It wasn't until recently that I noticed that she is more honest with me than anyone else I know—which makes me more aware of how much I lack that element in my other interactions with women.

Phoenix has raised the standards for what I look for in friendships with other women. Even the most successful women have ups and downs. This friendship has taught me to keep getting up even when you are knocked down.

Click to follow Courtney and Phoenix on Instagram!

Jessica Lovett

Raynita (L) and Jessica (R)

Location: Dallas, TX

Length of Friendship: 15 years

In high school, a mutual friend of ours asked me if I would give her friend a ride home. That friend was Raynita. One ride home for a stranger turned into a lifelong friendship.

Ray is my soul sister. She is outgoing, beautiful, smart and extremely loyal. Her confidence and positivity are electrifying but she is still one of the most humble people you will meet. She is the one person who I can completely be myself with. She understands how much I struggle with a positive self-reflection and she reminds me that we all have our insecurities but we can't let them define us.

We have lived in different states for 14 years (yes, we only lived in the same state for one year). I left California after graduating high school and Raynita stayed. Our entire friendship has been built around communicating and making time to see each other. We talk every day and are somehow always in sync, even though we are hundreds of miles apart.

I have witnessed my best friend go through life facing judgment from others just because she's a black woman. She talks openly with me about the racism she encounters. Something as simple as why she prefers going to a black doctor over a white doctor and how important it is to love the skin you're in; white people don't often have to think about these things. I see how strong the black community is and how different black families are from your "typical white family".

The most significant thing this friendship has taught me is that no matter how much I love and rely on my husband, that there is no one that can take the place of my experiences with her.

Keep up with Jessica & Raynita's adventures on Instagram @bestietalks!

Lucy Bishop

Lulu (L) and Lucy (R)​

Location: New York City but I'm Australian

Length of Friendship: 1 year

My LuLu is an absolute powerhouse. She is so smart, so kind, so beautiful. An incredibly hard worker, but also an excellent dance buddy—we both love The Queen, Beyoncé!

Anyway, Lulu and I really balance one another out and we have a lot in common, particularly the fact that we have both lived all over the world—both in our youth and as adults. We met at University. I was chatting with the director of our course and Lulu popped in to talk about a podcast. I mentioned how much I loved podcasts and the extensive listening schedule I have, and we have been friends ever since. It has been really great having a friend in NYC who thinks so similarly to you, especially as an international student in America. I think what I like most about her is how much she cares and takes an interest in everything. Lulu is always up for an adventure.

I learn things about the black community every day, but I try to find ways to educate myself so I'm not burdening my friends with questions. I listen to many black culture podcasts, like The Read and The Nod, and I read often.

Lulu is Zambian so I have been learning about Southern African culture. She is so open with discussing the differences of navigating life as a black woman in Namibia, vs Australia (she lived in Melbourne for a while), vs the U.S. We also discuss cultural appropriation, as I am well-aware that black culture is often stolen and commodified. So I always make it a point to check myself on all things that could potentially offend, and I want my friends to check me on it too.

Click to follow Lucy and LuLu on Instagram!

Kelly Henzlik

Kelly (L) and Shawna (R)

Location: Woodland Hills, CA

Length of Friendship: 9 years

Shawna and I met through my ex-boyfriend. She was the most dedicated, goal-oriented, Disney-loving, red velvet-obsessed, kindest, most honest, fun-having person that I had come across. We would shop for bathing suits, eat junk food together, go to Disneyland, dance the night away, and be with our family together. I was taught to push my other girlfriends to do the best they can, and continually lift them up when they are down. Just always be there for them like Shawna is for me.

As we got older, I had to learn to shift my perspective on how I interacted and learned from the Black community. What I learned from my friendship is that they often stand by each other, through thick and thin. Her and her friends and family are so admirably loyal to each other. She is teaching me to understand that institutionalized racism exists. And that is so easy to overlook because it's institutionalized. She wakes up every day with the mind state that she has to give 110%; no matter what she does because as a black woman, she knows society is already judging her. I've learned that she has to be conscious of her every move and that it has to be calculated to ensure that she defies preconceived stereotypes.

Ultimately, I know that this woman can do ANYTHING she puts her mind to. She has proven that to me over and over again throughout the years. There's no limit to her success in every aspect of her life. She is phenomenal.

Click to follow Kelly and Shawna on Instagram!

Featured image by Shutterstock.

Originally published November 5, 2019

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