A sense of strength and solidarity rang through the Shippensburg University Ceddia Union Building on Thursday from Room 224 in the form of discussion, activities and chants lead by Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) Director Diane Jefferson for the first-ever Sisterhood Solidarity meeting.
Jefferson organized the meeting in an effort to unite the women so they may stand stronger together despite their differences.
“This is a cultural push, a push to deal with the intersectionality of culture, race, ethnicity and gender,” Jefferson said.
After speaking on the importance of women’s unity across cultures, Jefferson asked that each student pair up with someone they were unfamiliar with to share what they find beautiful about themselves.
After a few minutes of uncomfortable giggling and shuffling about, the group of mostly female students and one male began to relax as they discussed their beauty before sharing with the group what their partner found beautiful about themselves.
“Why do you think that I would have you do that activity if we are talking about solidarity with women?” Jefferson asked the group, sparking a discussion among the students on multiple topics including self-esteem, stereotypes and the issue of colorism.
One student described herself as having two hands in different spheres as an African-American woman.
She described womanhood as stereotypically submissive and passive, while being African American is often stereotyped as loud and aggressive.
“That dichotomy of how you present yourself pulls you in so many different directions it changes the image and perception of how you see yourself,” Jefferson said. “Because you begin to see yourself through other people’s lenses as opposed to your own.”
Jefferson said that although other people’s perceptions play a role in our lives, it is most important to have a strong perception of one’s true self.
After the open discussion, the MSA director asked that the group read some women’s empowerment chants together.
The group’s voice grew more robust and cohesive as the chants went on, as the last line of the chant was read “Women’s rights under attack, what do we do? stand up, fight back!” a feeling of strength filled the space.
“This is about women and our allies coming together to help us stand. If ever there was a time that women need to stand together it is now, and I think that women of color and different ethnicities must know that.”
SU students Katee Killmeyer and Dom Gual agreed the event was an empowering experience fit for any kind of student.
“I think what we are speaking on here is really important not only just to women but to everybody,” Gual said. “It affects everyone.”