The Communication of Solidarity in Friendships among African American Women By Patrick C. Hughes & Amy N.

Heuman Beatrice Turner Northeastern University CMT: 401

power and necessity rather than being close as a result of common interests and shared activities. The study was centered by the following research question: How do African American females describe and experience intraracial friendship communication? The rationale behind this project stemmed primarily from Houston’s (2002) call to action in the field of communication research to include intracultural experiences among African Americans and the friendships they cultivate. The consensus amongst the women interviewed in this study is if African American intraracial friendships aren’t nurtured and cultivated then there would ultimately be a loss in the African American lineage. Thirty-six women were interviewed a bout their experiences with intraracial friendships. There is a ‘bond’ between African American women . This sense of solidarity in the study was maintained through friendships dichotomies.2 Abstract Hughes and Heuman (2006) conducted a research study designed to explore indepth cultural values and communicative meanings for friendship that exist within a given culture with the focus being on African American women. Why is that? This study speaks that most research in this area continues to focus primarily on dominant White culture. The purpose of this study is to provide insight into a certain section of African American women and from interviewing them about their experiences be able to make meaning of their intraracial friendships play a role in cultivating ones identity. How can the African American culture or any other non-dominant culture still be considered irrelevant in the field of communication research when the world is so diverse? The running theoretical perspective throughout the study of these thirty-six women is the need to form and maintain solidarity. In conducting the research the women expressed closeness in terms of strength. black vernacular and “authentic” communication. There were other communication scholars prior to Houston who also were calling for an exploration around the “centrality” of culture but few responded to these calls.

That is. Cultivating this solidarity is important to the maintaining and nurturing of African American history which is further strengthen by the perceived notion of the black vernacular and use of “authentic” communication. In the study. but our background and history makes us different from other races of women.”(p38) The final consensus in the study dealt with the use of “authentic” communication amongst African American friends.”(p37) Another consensus found in the study was the connection in using slang or black vernacular language to solidify solidarity. One participant in the study stated: “All people want trust in their friendships. we need Black girl friends more than other races of women need friends who are the same race…. I know I listen for my friends being phony and not themselves. she said “forget ya’ll I ain’t forget where I come from. Only Black friends can talk to each other this way. not Black.we can relate to someone better when they are close to you I that way than someone.”(p38) The results of this study answered the original research question of how do African American females describe and experience intraracial friendship communication. As one participant stated: “When I’m with my Black friends it seems like we’re always evaluating our Blackness. My White girlfriend would never say that no matter how many Black girlfriends she had…she doesn’t share the same history not to mention the color.our color is more than just similarity it is a bond….. There is a necessity for this type of research considering not much has been done regarding non-dominant cultures in communication research. say a White woman. my friend returned from college and she was speaking so properly with her friends and were like listen to you so proper now after college. One participant of the study stated: “When you’re close to your Black girlfriends w refer to each other as. that’s my Nigga.3 that is unlike any other bond with women from other races. who are you now? Then she changed her way of talking with us. One criticism of the study is . The study confirms how important solidarity is amongst African American women and their intraracial friendships. the women stressed the perceived importance of being “authentic” in her speech which is viewed as being true to her identity as an African American woman. an example used was the reference of the “Nword” among African Americans. For example. who hasn’t experienced what you have they can’t relate to the different things you go through as a Black female.

This study is a positive step in the right direction in exploring aspects of intracultural communication through the intraracial relationships but further research of this nature is needed from all non-dominant cultures in exploring relationships and identities.4 the sample needed to larger in order to be more strong and effective. From a personal standpoint. The study would have been stronger with a wider range of women interviewed college educated and non-college educated. as an African American woman with both intraracial and interracial friendships. There were only thirty-six women interviewed all coming from one large Midwestern university. I don’t agree with some of the women’s views regarding African American women. Also the study focused on intraracial friendships but didn’t discuss the specifics of the intraracial friendships in question.5 years. The age range could be wider as well from 18-49 years of age. its not a “white” language I’m speaking but the American language. when I’m speaking proper English language or any African American. being black is speaking improper English and/or slang I disagree.” So in essence. In this way there is both a range of younger and older friendships to get research from. I have been accused on more than one occasion of talking “white” because of my use of proper speech and not being more in tune with my “blackness. . whether they were current satisfying or past dissatisfying. ranging in age from 19-26 years old with the median age being 22. I can relate to the section of “authentic” communication.

5 Reference List Houston. P & Heuman A (2006). Woman and Language.11-17. pp.33-41. Hughes. pp. The Communication of Solidarity in Friendships among African American Women. 1. No. M (2000) Multiple perspectives: African American women conceive their talk. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication Vol 7. .1.

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