The cast of the Black '90s TV sitcom Living Single.
Cover Image © Fox Network

My Black Perspective #10: Friends

Yesterday I talked about the importance of the family we’re born with, but today I’d like to talk about the importance of the family we choose – our friends. Black People don’t have a monopoly on friendships, but I have to acknowledge the important role they play in helping endure whatever the world throws our way as we live each day.

Today I just want to focus on telling people about my two best friends Paul and Kyla. I haven’t ever written a post about them before – so this should be fun 😂 I will open with one other tidbit, but the post will end up mainly focusing on my relationship with these two.

First: The Black “Friends” Controversy

I want to start by talking about the social importance of the cover photo of this post. For those who aren’t aware of it, it is a shot of the cast from a show from the ’90s called Living Single. If I had to describe it in a way that non-Black People could immediately relate to, I’d have no choice but to say, “It’s like a Black-version of Friends,” a show I’m sure everyone can recognize from the cultural zeitgeist of that period (fun fact: I have never watched a full episode of Friends (ever), but I have seen every episode of Living Single).

Here’s the kicker, though… Living Single isn’t the Black-version of Friends. In fact – it’s the other way around!

That’s right. Two shows with very similar formats. One came first (Living Single) and was kind of overlooked unless you were a certain demographic. While the other (Friends), from the same studio (Warner Bros. Television), came out later and went on to become a cornerstone in mainstream sitcom history and receive all of the praise that comes with being an original… very likely because the characters looked a certain way.

A group of Black People posing similarly to a photo of the cast from the famous TV sitcom Friends.

This lack of historical knowledge contributed to awkwardly funny things like Buzzfeed writing an article titled “If the Cast of ‘Friends’ Were Black“. And ultimately brought on a public fan-battle on Twitter when one of the cast members of Living Single (Erika Alexander) called out one of the cast members of Friends (David Schwimmer) for the following comments he made in an article ran by The Guardian

“I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color. One of the first girlfriends I had on the show was an Asian American woman, and later I dated African American women. That was a very conscious push on my part. …I feel like my barometer was pretty good at that time. I was already really attuned to social issues and issues of equalityMaybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends.

David Schwimmer

In 2020, Erika wrote a great read on the implications of the event on Medium. She very succinctly sums up the relevance in the opening of her post when she writes…

“What’s ironic is that David was speaking to his awareness of White male privilege. What’s unfortunate is that he created an interesting example of it while doing so, because the show he was in was not the original, it was a knock-off. So there can never be an all-Black Friends, because Friends was the all-white Living Single.

Erika Alexander

I literally just bring up that bit of pop-culture history because I find it fascinating. I encourage everyone to pause reading this post and check out Erika’s acutely aware take on the situation (yep, that’s the same link from right above the quote – I really want you to know about this one).

It has nothing to do with this post other than the fact that Living Single (for those who have seen it) IS the quintessential show about Black friendships (with a close runner-up being Girlfriends).

Black History Month, right?

Now – let’s talk about my friends.

The Siblings I Chose

I think I first met Paul when I was 5 (I honestly forget if I was still 5, or if I had turned 6 at that point) – and I know that both Paul and I met Kyla when we started the 6th grade.

A photo of my two best friends on a motorcycle together.

These two are my rock. They are the home base that I turn to for all things, good or bad. They know more about me than anyone else (with the third-place person being my Mom). I’m the automatic uncle to any little additions to either of their beautiful families, and the fortunate godfather of one of those little ones (who I swear to do right by, and will one day tell SOOOO much dirt to about their parent).

Much like the people in the shows that I referenced above, we’ve been through a lot together. Naming a few, we have…

  • Gone on road trips together
  • Been on vacations together
  • Had “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” moments together
  • Been roommates
  • Laughed & cried together
  • Gotten on each other’s nerves
  • Broken laws together (there will never be any proof!!)

But our bond runs a little deeper than those people in the sitcoms. I have plenty of very important friends in my intentionally small circles (only let the good ones in), but these two are my Day Ones.

So… Yeah… For all intents and purposes – you are looking at my brother and sister.

The Importance of Our Friendships

Your friendships shape who you become.

To be quite honest – I don’t know where I would be, or what type of guy I would’ve become without Pablo and K-Dub in my life forever and always. I definitely think I’d be a worse person.

A photo of me and my best friends out for drinks.

These two have been there for me through it all — good times and bad. I always appreciate them in the good times, but I thank God for them during the bad times.

My friends have helped me through some really low lows in my life and pulled me back from some dark places when I wasn’t really trying to let anyone in. They just kind of annoyingly refused to go away, and I love them both dearly for that. And believe me, I’ve been there for them in those same capacities — it’s definitely a two-way street.

Very few things in life last as long as our friendships have, so I treasure them. I think that’s important, and I hope that others who are fortunate enough to have life-long friends recognize them as some of the most valuable gifts life can give you. Even if you are monetarily struggling, if you land friendships along the lines of what I’m scratching the surface of in this post – you are wealthy beyond measure.

I think I will end this one there. Super quick because, as I said – Black People don’t have a monopoly on friendships. I really don’t think there’s much I can tell you about this subject other than the fact that friendships matter in my personal life experience as a Black guy. Nothing too profound there.

Call your friends and let them know they’re important to you.

Peace, and thanks for reading.

 

The soundtrack for this post provided by…

Image Credits:
– Cover Image © Fox Network
– Body Image 1 © Buzzfeed
– Body Images 2 & 3 © Johnnie Weathersby III

Sharing is Caring
Resize Font
Contrast Mode
Created by Alex Volkov