Yes, Black Women Can Get Along

She Matters: Despite what you see on reality TV, the bonds of sisterhood are strong.

(The Root) — On Monday night’s episode of The Gossip Game, the Source magazine editor Kim Osorio shared with her husband that she was planning a roundtable with the show’s cast to discuss hip-hop. She hoped that, unlike at previous gatherings with all the ladies, everyone would be on her best behavior and ready to play nice. Osorio’s husband was immediately skeptical about the plans, insisting that there was no way a group of women could get together without descending into madness.

I’ve heard comments like the one from Osorio’s husband more times than I can count. The idea that women, especially black women, are unable to get along is accepted as fact — an idea, of course, that’s given credence by most reality-TV shows. To let them tell it, women are taking every opportunity to throw another woman a side-eye, and maybe even toss her under the bus, too.

And it’s not just guys propagating this myth — yes, myth. I’ve heard plenty of women say something like, “I don’t really hang out with girls because they’re [insert a negative generalization of all women here].”

Every time I hear someone lumping all groups of women into the crazy, catty, petty, shifty or shady category, I think, “Huh? What type of women do you know?”

I won’t pretend that I’ve never seen women exhibit catty behavior, never been on the receiving end of some petty remarks or even that I haven’t made some myself. The worst moments stand out and had the possibility of leaving me, and other women, jaded and skeptical about womankind. However, overall, my experiences debunk the so-called rule about women’s inability to get along. 

Maybe I’ve been fortunate, but when I think about my interactions with other women — yes, even in groups — my experience has been more positive, more sisterly and supportive, like on Living Single or Girlfriends, than anything showcased weekly on VH1 or talked about by sisterhood’s naysayers.

I live within walking distance of three of my closest friends, none of whom I’ve had a spat with in about five years of friendship. We don’t talk every day — we’re adults with busy lives — but anytime there’s good news to celebrate or bad news to wonder “WTH?” over, we all know the drill.

The one I call “my wife” opens her apartment for our gathering. Another, my “girlfriend,” gets in the kitchen to cook up a big pot of comfort food. My “mistress” runs out to pick up a gift. The fourth — that’s me — heads to the liquor store for the big bottle of sangria.