The Myth of Community: A Look at Girl Fights, Sistahood and Individuality
by Jean Usen
It was my girlhood ambition to be a part of a blood-tight crew of black female friends. Instead of that, I have a beautifully disjointed and unique connection with a precious few jewels. The sistahs are a tight-knit and deeply bonded community of black women who encourage and support each other through common trials and in pursuit of common interests. Many will attempt to persuade you that uniformity among black women is an important goal. I bring you an irrevocable and uncompromising fact: uniformity is several shades less important than the individuality or diversity of women in-kind.
Let us fuss, cuss and push each other. I said it. Let us knock down and drag the lazy, dizzy, silly, frilly crybaby out of one another and do so unapologetically. It is healthier and kind to get whipped at “home” than to get out in these streets and have fights with the unkind.
Girl fights are one of our best strengths. We only run from them because they address, undress and redress us and YES it can get ugly. But it is in the mouth of the sharp-tongued, hell-raising sistah that I recently found the keys to some pretty savvy self-improvement. I will toss the bath water but raise the young’n.
I am interested in working to reshape the global ideology of agreement and belonging in any community: religious, political, social or otherwise. From my own socio-historical vantage point, I have found it to be horribly false and systemically destabilizing that women continue to grasp at the straws of belonging and agreement. Girl fights will long remain one of our inherent strengths and a source of brutal honesty.
Now that your eggs have been cracked open and breakfast is cooking in the sun… let me be plain.
Step away from your false dignified notions of “the sistahood.” These are all lies meant to silence your reverential beauty and power. Rather than push and prod my sistahs to get along and support each other, I will take note of those things which may always hinder uniformity but which also encourage unique individuals to remain so. In accomplishing this, we have gained vast diversity in a group that has long been force-fed a notion of sameness.
Sameness is not genetic. People are striped but we have opportunities to work out disagreement, share beliefs and resist automaticity of thought or feeling. I have faith that women can accomplish more than sistahood if we are powerful, sensible, competitive and honest. This is but one ode to the girl fight: spar with me, sis, and make me tougher.