SISTAHs work together to build a campus community

The growing group fosters pride and support for women of color at the University.

Heather L. Mueller

Nearly seven years ago, a small group of black women created a group to support women of color on campus.

They called themselves SISTAH, Spiritually Intellectual Sisters Together Achieving Harmony, which continues to be a strong network for African American females and women of color on campus.

Formed in 2000, the group acts as a support system and forum to discuss personal issues such as school, dating or spirituality, as well as larger social issues that touch the lives of women of color, including sexism and racism.

Though the founding members have moved on, a new group of students have taken over to continue providing support for women of color.

The group now has 60 members, which doubles for some events. The group collaborates with the Black Student Union and My Brother’s Keeper, a group for men of color.

Psychology senior Hafia Gregory attended a SISTAH event her first year at the University and said it changed her perspective about the student body.

“I had never seen so many black women together on a predominantly white campus,” she said.

Political science senior Miski Noor said SISTAH helps students find a “home” at the University and be part of a community.

“I think SISTAH provides an atmosphere for black women in particular, but also all women of color, to kind of come together and deal with the issues of being a minority student on this campus.”

The group holds forums that encourage students to speak their minds, be respectful and not judge others.

The group was specifically created for African Americans, but is now open to all women.

Individualized studies senior Yndia Robinson said the group wants to increase unity among women of color on campus by focusing on nurturing individual self esteem to foster positive support.

“It’s so easy to tear down somebody, but cheer the next girl on,” she said. “If SISTAH didn’t exist, I don’t think women of color would be as civilized as they are here.”

The group focuses on reaching out by saying hello to other women of color on campus to make them feel welcome, said Keyonna Taylor-Coleman, a psychology senior.

Psychology senior Martine Louisma said there was a time when she wanted to quit school because she felt homesick for Chicago, but SISTAH offered the support and sense of community she was searching for.

“When you’re surrounding yourself around people who have similar interests as you Ö you have a huge support telling you ‘You can do it,’ ” she said.

Louisma said women need to stand together to build a stronger academic and social community for students of color.

SISTAH looks to pass on the torch this March to the next generation of women of color at the University, in the hopes that they will grow personally and academically from being in the group.