Student organization, Sister Talk, creates a refuge in their all-women’s club that endorses prosperity and encouragement amongst women of color.
Lauren Peterkin, the current discussion facilitator of Sistertalk, has found a safe place to open up about her personal struggles as a woman of color raised by a mostly white family.
“I had a lot of issues growing up — just the fact that I was black, I didn’t like it, because my mom is white, and I would always look up to her and I would think she is so beautiful, and I always wanted to be like her. She is white with green eyes, straight hair… So just looking at her, I always felt ugly or I didn’t feel right because of my mom,” Peterkin said.
Every Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. members of Sistertalk get together at the WoMen’s Center to talk over observations, struggles and victories they face as black women on campus and in modern society. Topic discussions range from colorism in the black community, to appropriation of black style, to the inequality of male and female roles specific to the black community. There is no subject that is off the table for discussion.
Sistertalk has allowed women of color on campus to be vocal about serious personal issues and light-hearted ones. The group does not hold back in talking frankly about the world, the society they live in and their experiences living their day-to-day lives as black women.
After joining Sistertalk and participating in their meetings, Peterkin has discovered a sense of confidence that wasn’t there before.
“Talking about (struggles) in these meetings really made me feel like there was nothing wrong with being black, whether you’re full black, half black, or whatever. It’s made me really appreciate black people and love myself,” Peterkins said.
As the President of Sistertalk, Kyree Jackson said her main focus is to not only hold discussions relevant to black women, but also act upon their thoughts in a real-world setting.
“We want to make an influence that is going to encourage growth. If we talk about colorism, what are some actions we can take to stop ourselves from having colorist habits or stop someone else? We really want to educate the community,” Jackson said.
For some participants, this network of women has also been an opportunity for academic growth. Jackson reflects on a moment last semester where several members were struggling in their classes. Jackson’s reaction was to initiate a discussion to see how they could all help each other.
“I feel like when they are not doing well, then I am not doing well,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s tenacity to help her peers succeed can be traced back to her own determination to be a successful student. She said as a black woman, she is expected to work just as hard, if not harder, for her accomplishments to be recognized next to everyone else’s.
She also stresses the importance of being a part of the ongoing conversation, and being merited not just because she is black.
“I can do it just as well, regardless of my ethnic background” Jackson said. “I work hard because I want to be seen as credible”
Sistertalk may only meet for up to two hours once a week, but members have reported gaining lifelong friendships outside of that short window of time.
“Because these people are all facing some sort of similar situation to you, those bonds that you share are unbreakable,” said Jasia Morrison, a frequent Sistertalk participant.
Before Jackson joined Sistertalk, she recalls campus life being a bit lonely. Now Jackson has found a community that supports her, and she has taken on a leadership role to give back to that same community.
“There is a close bond with in each other — when it comes to Sistertalk, we are all there for the same reason and that same passion. We want to not only help the black community succeed but we also want to empower women,” Jackson said.