I want to address a topic I don’t often see covered, especially by Black people, most especially by Black men. I want to talk about friendship.
I had an interesting conversation with my homeboy today. We were reflecting on the death of Whitney Houston and he mentioned Wendy Williams breaking down on her show about it. He said some people felt it was fake giving the infamous interview that Wendy Williams had with Whitney Houston. I had never seen the footage, so I looked it up.
After watching the clip. I actually think Wendy was being sincere; however, what really struck home for me was her honesty about her addiction (and the fact that she admitted to copping drugs in the neighborhood where I grew up). Addiction is one of those things in life that many people have difficulty truly understanding. In our society we have a tendency to look at things for which we have no personal reference with a judgmental objectivity that can chill the soul. The psychology of addiction is that addictions and addictive behavior are the by products of a much deeper problem. More than likely that root problem is something that we can all understand and relate to, if we ever looked hard enough to see it.
After watching the clip I went and stood outside and thought, I miss my friend. My godbrother, one of the best friends I have ever had, was a crack addict. He was for most of the years of our friendship. I’ll never forget the day he admitted to me that he smoked crack. He gave me the standard speech with a confident and casual manner. It’s just something I do was the tone. I was honored at his honesty and in return I decided to put my judgment aside. I told him that if he ever started acting like a crackhead, I would call him out on it. Ofcourse, he eventually started acting like a crackhead. And I would call him out on it every time I got a call at 1 or 2 am to pick him from some party house he had been in for days. I would call him out on it when I took him to meet the dope boy. I would call him out on it when he lied, when he disappeared, when I bought food for him and the two sons he was raising on his own. I would call him out when he would trick me into coming over and leaving me with his kids while he partied. He never quit. And I never abandoned him.
It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It’s scary and emotionally draining to watch someone you love kill themselves. Over the years I have often thought about my choice to be there and witness him going through that even after I had convinced myself he would probably never quit. But I don’t regret it. In my acceptance of him and his addiction he reciprocated by letting me be who I was. If anyone had all the dirt on me, it was him. He never told a soul. I have experienced nothing greater in my life than the feeling of being loved unconditionally (especially outside of a romantic context) and being allowed to be as flawed, imperfect, and fucked up as you are without judgment.
My godbrother passed away about 8 years ago at the age of 35. But I will never forget what him. I think about him a lot now as I get older and look around and find that people don’t value friendship anymore. It’s a little lonelier now, without him. But what that friendship taught me, I will never forget. He taught me how to look beyond myself and my perception of someone to see them just as they are. He taught me that everybody has a story and that people are not replaceable or disposable. He taught me that life is short and we can’t take those moments and the people in them for granted. He taught me that sometimes you gotta just love somebody just because you can whether they deserve it or not. Most of all he taught me that pain and fear are powerful and if we are not careful they will control our lives and turn is into things we didn’t know we could be. My grandmother used to say, “Be careful playing with the devil. He’ll take you farther than you want to go and keep you longer than you want to stay.”
I’m a better man because of that friendship. I don’t often do many personal posts on this blog but I thought this appropriate here because as Black people, especially Black men, we overlook the value and importance of friendship. We undervalue what it means to have another man who can relate to you as only a Black man can relate to another Black man. We ignore the significance of what it means for Black men to share a love and kinship with one another. It always changes us for the better. Whether the relationship is father to son, brother to brother, cousin to cousin, or friend to friend, it always makes us better and stronger. So I just wanted to take a moment to speak on that. To show that even the angriest Black man has a heart and knows how to honor the feelings within it. That’s what makes me a man.
I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,
An Angry Black Man