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Women Her-story Month: Do You Have a Chosen Sister?

I speak as a – a sister of a sister. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on my birthday. And for over 30 years, Coretta Scott King and I have telephoned, or sent cards to each other, or flowers to each other, or met each other somewhere in the world.

We called ourselves “chosen sisters” and when we traveled to South Africa or to the Caribbean or when she came to visit me in North Carolina or in New York, we sat into the late evening hours, calling each other “girl.” It’s a black woman thing, you know. And even as we reached well into our 70th decade, we still said “girl.”

I pledge to you, my sister, I will never cease.

Dr. Maya Angelou’s remarks at Coretta Scott King’s Funeral

So, I was watching the Monique Show last night and Taraji P. Henson was one of her guests. What was interesting about the show was not that they both were Oscar nominated actresses, but that they were girlfriends. I mean Sistergirl girl friends. Sistahfriends whose on screen chemistry spoke of countless nights of belly laughs and Girl, let me tell you . . .” call and response, “I almost had to take my earrings off,” black girl stories. So, inspired by their on camera friendship and Women’s Her-story month, today I pay tribute to Sisterfriends without whom many black women including myself would go crazy on what seems like an ordinary day. Yes, black girl friendships are a blessing.

Well, Monique and Taraji’s candor and black girl banter reminded me of Maya Angelou’s funeral tribute to Coretta Scott King where she said, “Coretta was my chosen sister.” Her words of remembrance were fresh sap sticky with memories only two women in their 70s could appreciate. I must say, listening to her words one was hostage to the fact that they had been friends many life times. Coretta was her chosen sister. They were chosen sisters . . . two women who knew the power of sharing and trusting other women. In some ways Maya’s tribute to Coretta seems dated in a world where Bravo’s Atlanta House Wives and Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club show black women fighting with each other over men, power, and money . . . and where the terms ‘bitch’ and ‘female’ become deadly assault weapons to wound the souls of women who look like them. Yep, there is scheme a foot to make black women hate other black women. And of course, it has every bit to do with the holy trinity—patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny.

So, when I was a little black girl I was told constantly by my momma that you don’t have many females around cause they are ‘messy’ and they will ‘steal’ yo man. So, when I hear young girls say the same thing to me about why they only have male friends my heart hurts because I know the fallacy downright soul stealing fallacy of that thought.

For the most part, all the people who did my mother wrong were men and it was the two girlfriends my mother somehow kept around that would come tend to the wounds that my alcoholic father laid upon her when he felt insecure. Yep, Wendy and Yvette were godsends because without them my mother would not have survived the abuse and the longer term effects of my father’s abuse.

Well, I want to end with paying tribute to one of  my good Sisterfriends, Jess. Mind you I have several good sisterfriends–Tiffany, Chelsey, Melissa, Cemere, Moya, Leigh, Monica, Ebbonne, Chasidie, Tytrinia, and Aishah–but I need to give Jess a shout out. Let me tell you she is the one who will politely unclip her earrings unlace her gym shoes and as the young folk say, “Square up” on your behalf. She is the one who forces herself to crawl underneath your bed to weep unknown and known memories with you. She is the one who knows just the right joke and just the right expletive to use in all matters of talk. She is the one who pushes me to stand up boldly against those who seek my demise. And yes as Maya wrote, Jess, the little girl from Arkansas, is my chosen sister.

So, today in tribute to Women’s Her-story month, I ask you to leave comments paying tributes to your Girlfriends, Sisterfriends, and Sistah-friends so that the world knows that we love each other and need each other to survive.  It does not have to be anything long . . . you can list a name . . . or perhaps you want to write poem . . . feel free to write whatever is needed to pay tribute to your girls.


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