Coco's Book Review: Big Friendship
It was recently International Women's Day and my women friendships play a big part in life (like seriously I wrote a post about it!) and last year I read a book that was not only about the friendship between women but also friendships between women of different races. Given that I have friends of all different backgrounds, I had to read it!
Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friendman is a book I read in January 2021. This book was written by two friends who happen to also host a podcast. They are of different races and seemingly have different communication styles and they were having to navigate those differences at the same as hosting a podcast while appearing to be a cohesive unit on podcast. Sounds interesting right?
This was far from perfect. It was clearly written while they were still trying to work their way through the friendship. One of the common criticisms I read was that they did too much to salvage this friendship. That may or may not be true but I think there were some great things to come out of this book:
A friendship is like any other friendship and they require work. You may be thinking "duh, everyone knows this" but that isn't true. Friendships tend to be the most undervalued relationship. We tend to abandon them when other types of relationships come (and go) and also have this assumption that they should be easy. While there is certainly a time to decide that a friendship is no longer serving a positive role in your life, that is different than just abandoning the friendship. Many times the end of a friendship is due to a lack of effort of either one or both parties and a break down in communication. That was the case of the authors. They simply stopped communicating. I know I have had several friendships of my own dissolve because we just stopped talking, hanging out, communicating etc. When I compare that to the friendship between my best friend and I, we make a concerted effort to check in with each other and most of the time communicate when something is bothering. Listen you don't have to be dating or married to communicate and if your romantic relationship ends, guess who is usually there for you? I rest my case. Work on your friendship.
We can not and should not treat our friendships with friends of other races like we are color blind. Hell we shouldn't even be color blind and turning a blind eye to all the crazy shit that is happening in our country/world is not serving anyone. Listen, we all have a background that has partially shaped who we are. We then need to look inward to identify areas in which we may need to learn and do self work. To apply that to our friendships we can not look to our friends to be the teacher or the sole representative of that particular race. When doing that, you are no longer treating your friend like a person you care about. Sometimes questions are okay if you are asking for independent thoughts and feelings but your BIPOC friend is not your professor of race relations. There are books and classes for that.
So again, do I think this is a perfect book? Nah. I think they should've worked through their issues fully before releasing this book. Do I think it is a good starting point to start self reflection? Absolutely! If you're interested, check it out!