Brandy, Monica and Black Girl Friendship Foolishness
As someone who owns a physical copy of every Brandy album and will fight you if you say Human isn't woefully underrated, even I had to side eye her when she switched up the lyrics to "Talk About Our Love" during her 2016 Soul Train Lady of Soul performance. While it was (in my opinion) too big a moment to devote to foolishness, it also informed us that this 20 year "beef" with Monica hasn't really been squashed. I don't know about you but I'm tired. When Brandy and Monica got back together in 2012 to record “It All Belongs To Me” (Confession: I didn’t like that song or “The Boy Is Mine” but moving on…), I was excited because it seemed they’d grown up and moved on from petty childhood beefs. But then when we heard they were still fighting backstage, I was over it all. Now shade over social media challenges and the rights to the title of Whitney Houston’s goddaughter have just exhausted us all. It is not 1996 anymore and we are not 15 year old girls navigating puberty and emotions.
If we are honest, we know Brandy and Monica not just because we grew up with them but because they are us. Brandy was the good church girl who did everything to maintain that good girl image until the cracks began to show and it all fell apart. Then, she was left to deal with the fallout from the facade she created and what was her real life. Monica was the rough around the edges homegirl in third period with the too grown haircut who'd seen too much to be the same age. Her reputation was based on who we *thought* she was because we never took the time to know her beyond the rumors and gossip. Two (seemingly) different girls and instantly battle lines were drawn. Publicly, in our box braids or weave ponytails that we quick dried in the microwave (only God can judge me), we were either Team Brandy or Team Monica when privately, we were singing and dancing to them both.
Thankfully, we all grew up. Brandy came into a confidence that can't be denied. She's not silent anymore as she gets picked and pulled apart. There is an agency that Brandy asserts that makes every former "good girl" trying to find her way proud. And Monica has become, for many of us, an example of what it means to own and learn from your past and flourish in your present. Through social media, we often find her being this ray of light and goodness that can only come from growth. Really and truly, we’re proud of them both.
That being said, what the hell yall?! How is that two significant sisters in our generation can't keep from taking shots, throwing shade and being nice nasty towards each other? How Sway?! 34-36 year old Black girls everywhere need to meet Bran and Monica at that house Issa 'nem went to for Kelly's birthday and tell them to get their ish together.
...and while we're there, we all need to get ours together, too.
I want to be clear: I do not think it's impossible for Black women to be friends and support each other without shade or malice. It happens every single day. Black women are each other's best friends. My girls hold me down- and I, them- and I know I'm not the only one who feels this way about her squad. So I'm not talking about those relationships. Still, I think there’s something, both, sad and disappointing about all this back and forth between these two that speaks to tensions that many Black women have with each other that never get named. We want so much to show that Black women support each other and are friends (this is necessary, believe me!) that we never provide space to deal with the fact that sometimes “I just don’t like that heffa” and my reasons for not liking her may be completely ridiculous.
I have not always gotten all my friendships or interactions with Black women right. None of us have. In a few instances, too many things were left unspoken and infractions ignored. In some others, issues were manufactured and, as long as I had enough people on "my" team, I didn't care to address or resolves them. And in others, if we're being real, we felt straight up threatened by each other and/or intimidated by what was lacking on our end that seemed to be in abundance for them. We live in a world and are intimately connected with communities that pick us apart. We’ve experienced things that often leave us reeling at the ways our lives have turned out. And, instead of rejecting the lie that we are not enough, we often internalize them and it manifests in the ways we treat our sisters. It’s why, no matter how much it's all in fun, I don't play the "One Gotta Go" games because I’m tired of living in a world where I gotta choose which Black girl can’t be in it. What I know to always be true is that nobody will ever have a Black woman's back like another Black woman and, often, no one can ever hurt another sister deeply as another sister. There's something deeply intimate and personal about that kind of pain. I've done it and I've had it done to me. And it’s not pretty.
But it's 2016 and all things trash need to be left in this year. Black Girl Friendship Foolishness cannot go with us into 2017. Seriously. It cannot. Michelle, Malia. Sasha and Grandma Robinson are leaving the White House. The MHP Show is gone. MAC can’t get Taraji’s makeup collection right. And Donald Trump is about to be President of the United States. We literally do not have time. Neither Brandy or Monica have clean hands, as is often the case in the dissolution of most friend-or-situationships. And I’m not naïve enough to think that every sister is going to be your best friend. However, I do believe that we can do better about how we treat each other- especially in a world determined to destroy us.