So this is the second time I socialized with this group of Black women and my mind has been blown yet again. First off, I know what you’re thinking: group? Black women? Vancouver? Yes, I know, it’s a shock!
I met this one woman years ago from the islands. She is absolutely lovely and I made up my mind then and there that I would like her to be my friend. That’s how it is when you’re an immigrant. You have to make friends. There are no built-in friends or anything, you have to make them. Or, at least, that’s how it is for me. At first, we would meet a couple times a year at the Caribbean events in the city and then one time, after exchanging numbers a couple of years before but never using it, she called me to ask a question about the Trinidadian Society and we were on the phone for over 3 hours. We’ve been friends ever since.
Having had her in my life, though, the landscape of my social activities has changed. Since she has Black female friends, I get invited to events where we would all get together and talk and talk about ‘issues’ under the guise of having a party. What started off as something social, turned into something deeply emotional and extremely supportive.
Caribbean women….sigh. We are phenomenal, we are outspoken, we are strong, we are intense, we are just amazing. Sitting in a room with these women talking about their lives and their unique and common struggles to raise their families, to desire keep their relationships healthy, to keep themselves sane, made me feel so validated and ‘normal’. Don’t get me wrong, there are others in my life who make me feel the same way, but to hear the words coming from someone who has the same background and upbringing as me and can talk so freely about it, just made it feel different. The homogeneity among us made it easy to trust and identify with each other.
We talked about a lot of things, the topics of which are not even important. What was important was the expression that was so honest and open and unapologetic! I forgot how straightforward Caribbean people could be sometimes.
The first time I went over there, it was great: I felt like I was given the password to a secret society and I could finally get to see the inner workings of Black women my age. What I didn’t realize is that there would be no long preamble. We would get to the nitty gritty of things immediately whether we all knew each other or not. They shared their stories with no filter. I thought, “Hey, you guys just met me 2 hours ago,” but the fact that that didn’t matter made me feel like part of a sisterhood. By the end of it, I too shared my stories. I didn’t feel judged even though some people didn’t agree with me. I expressed my opinion and right there and then, I was told, “You’re talking s**t! That not making sense!” I then defended what I had to say in a way I could get across my point clearer. In the end, they didn’t agree, but they understood that my opinion was based on my unique situation. In the end, I felt comfortable enough to share an opinion that was honest, open and unapologetic.
Don’t take for granted the people you have in your life who you are able to be yourself with, people who will call you on your b**ls**t and point a mirror in your face and let you know how wrong you are, people who will tell you their story and show you that you can rise despite how traumatic life can be. People walk into your life for a reason. They come in to show you something or to teach you something. Embrace it.