Sisterhood: The Importance of Her
We sat across the room from each other in our beds in the dark. She wore her brown bonnet, and my hair was braided up. I rested my head on my satin-covered pillow. We probably would’ve looked ridiculous to anyone but us. But I only saw her, and she saw me. We stayed up talking about everything—love, family, school, our plans for the future. Our conversation dug deep.
We can talk like this for hours—we often do. We both have so much to say, and we’re always ready to listen. And the beautiful part of it all is that despite all that we want to say, there’s so much that we can leave unsaid. We don’t have to explain to one another the roots of our struggles and the sources of our happiness. She knows that the sacrifices that my ancestors made for me to have the opportunity to be here drive me to work hard. She even understands the simple things. She understands that I don’t have to wash my hair every day for it to be clean because she doesn’t either. She understands me, and I understand her.
I watched the reflection of a hundred students exit the building as I walked out of my computer science lecture. Among the students—mostly men, very few black, maybe one or two other black women—I find myself. I was unsettled by how small and out of place I looked in the crowd. The feeling of not belonging, of doubt and self-consciousness, began to inch its way into my mind.
Then I walked into another building and saw her. And she saw me. We hugged, and I joined the conversation going on at the table. Somehow, the conversation drifted to the topic of on-campus jobs. She jumped at the opportunity to brag about how I work as a TA for the computer science department. She called me a genius and listed my accomplishments. And she did it with sincere pride. There was no real way of her knowing that I needed to be uplifted, but she understands that we are not often celebrated. We are rarely acknowledged for our excellence. Being black and being a woman—being both at the same time, always—is an almost constant challenge. She knows that on any given day, we all could use the celebration that she offers.
I was just about to go to sleep after a long day. I was sick, my head was pounding, and I was ready for the day to be over. Then I heard a quiet knock on my door and she walked in. Within minutes, I’m nearly falling out of my bed in tears of laughter. Her smile broadens as she laughs with me.
A conversation with her always means laughter. We’ll be in a room full of people, and I’ll look at her. She’ll look at me. And we’ll laugh the deep kind of laugh that only grows stronger and deeper until we’re shaking at the core. She understands that life is too short to not laugh—to not rejoice and smile. She knows that at any given moment our lives, our bodies, our loved ones could be threatened. She knows that the best way for us to live is to laugh and smile and dance. And she reminds me of that.
The importance of sisterhood is the understanding, support, and laughter it brings. It becomes home and family—a place where I can laugh at my pain and rejoice in my happiness. The importance of her—of us—is the knowledge that they see me fully and completely. I found the importance of having sisters in the love they have to offer—wrapped up in acceptance, vulnerability, joy, understanding, and a silk bonnet.