We Can’t Let Our Sorority Membership Make Us Forget the Meaning of Sisterhood

By Tekita Bankhead

I recognize that writing about anything related to Black Greek Lettered Organizations (BGLOs) can be…touchy. The reputations of BGLOs are constantly plagued with negative stereotypes, hazing scandals, and scholarly critiques concerning their legacy, legitimacy, and longevity. So let’s get a few things out of the way before we get to the nitty gritty, shall we?

To be clear, this is NOT a BGLO-bashing thinkpiece in any way, shape, or form. I am a proud financial member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. and have consistently served my sorority for nearly 10 years. My love for my DST runs deep and has afforded some of the best experiences of my life. I’m often referred to as an “old head” from time to time, but I rebuke that title…until I try to hop my happy tail in a stroll line. Yep, my duck-walking glory days are officially over. Ya’ll got it, young Sawrahz. I’ll keep living my best alumnae chapter life.

Black Greek college students have a special place in my lil’ old Delta heart. I am a higher education professional so I see firsthand how BGLOs are changing rapidly on campuses across the nation and breathing a new life into our organizations. Our collegiate BGLO sororities utilize social media, innovative service projects, and outstanding scholastic programs to attract the best and the brightest while fulfilling the supreme call to serve. I’ve seen young women enter chapters as novices and emerge with the business acumen of the next generation of trailblazers. What’s not so refreshing is the apparent increase in petty beef resulting in talented and competent women being denied access to a life-changing experience. The not-so-friendly rivalries with untraceable origins that eventually spin out of control at step shows, after-parties, the internet, and beyond. Perhaps the most detrimental is the unhealthy membership intake behaviors that are manifesting as a growing disconnect between the true tenets of sisterhood, what EVERY BGLO sorority holds as a core value. Many of our sororities may struggle with cohesion because our once fortified foundation of sisterhood is cracking. Ask yourself, “When people see my organization, my chapter, my line, my ship, do they see true sisters or just a group of color-coordinated women?” You can have a sisterhood without a sorority, but you absolutely cannot have a sorority without a sisterhood. It’s time we do a personal assessment of how each of us is embodying what sisterhood is really about:

Sisterhood is a choice. Membership in a BGLO does not automatically equal sisterhood. Sisterhood is an active practice that requires intentional and continuous love. As with family members, we celebrate with them, we share special moments, and we exchange our deepest thoughts. Sometimes we get hurt or frustrated, but dissolving the bond entirely is simply not an option. With chosen sisters, we make the decision over and over to salvage and protect our bonds…only if we think it’s worth it.

Sisterhood requires patience, grace, and forgiveness. Whenever there is a group of phenomenal and educated Black women, not only is conflict inevitable but also healthy if managed appropriately. A commitment to sisterhood requires healthy communication, especially when a sister may feel that she has been hurt. I see many women pledge a lifetime commitment to our sororities but frivolously dismiss those with the same shared commitment over minuscule matters. To effectively practice sisterhood, we must approach our sisters in a spirit of love, understanding, and support.

The gift of sisterhood is not exclusive to your Sorors. During my membership intake process, I was often advised that “I was a woman first.” Though that advice initially spoke to the prioritization of my identity, I now see value in its connection to my allegiance to other Black women. Some of my best friends in the world are in each of the BGLO sororities. Yes, Deltas and AKAs can be best friends or roommates turned life-long friends. Yes, Deltas and Zetas can edify and uplift each other. Yes, Deltas and SGRhos can provide mentoring and professional guidance to one another. Sisterhood doesn’t stop at the doors of your chapter meetings. We are all wonderful women who serve a tremendous benefit to each other.

Sisterhood transcends hierarchy and policy.Our organizations have become very focused on running as businesses and understandably so. However, in my opinion, sometimes our sorority policies don’t operate on the central concepts of care and well-being of our sisters. I have seen Sorors use poor judgment and be swiftly reprimanded with more concern for liability than restoration. This is not to suggest that accountability is not also an integral component of sisterhood; however, restoration, holistic development, and loving guidance is just as essential.

Sisterhood is not earned; it’s owed. Every Soror deserves sisterhood. Regardless of her flaws. Regardless of if she’s “paper” or “made.” Regardless of her popularity or reputation. To take it one step further, every Black woman deserves sisterhood. No one sees the brilliance of our gifts as clearly as we see them in each other. We owe that clarity and validation to the only other women who share our struggles and triumphs.

True sisterhood bears good fruit in the form of positive membership experiences, the security of worldwide support, and an inexplicable connection that brings a Soror some of the greatest pride of her life. In celebration of National Sisterhood Month, I challenge us all to be better sisters to each other. I especially challenge my BGLO sisters to reflect on any areas of their sisterhood that can be revitalized so that we can continue to push our communities forward together. Revisit what sisterhood means to you, and determine if your actions are in alignment. We are not required to be perfect, but we are required to keep growing. That’s the true lifetime commitment.

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43 thoughts on “We Can’t Let Our Sorority Membership Make Us Forget the Meaning of Sisterhood

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post sis! Thank you for encouraging us to revisit the commitment we made and what we need to bring with us to each meeting, program, and everyday interactions. Beyond the sorority life, I wish that we could apply this as Black women in general!

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    1. Thank you so much, sis! With unified and intentional efforts, it’s definitely possible!

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      1. I ❤️this post , soror. 36 yrs and still evolving for the good of the order and the vision of Delta.

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      2. So wonderful, Soror! Thank you for reading!

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  2. Montecella Driver March 6, 2018 — 1:30 PM

    Beautifully articulated…..purpose matters…..authentic sisterly love is practiced consistently from the heart and head. Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement, Soror

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, Soror!

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  3. Ernestine Wilson March 6, 2018 — 1:51 PM

    Thirty-three years ago I pledged and began my lifetime commitment to Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Never have I read a more concise analogy of what we as Black women who are privileged to belong to BGLOs should be. I will share this and keep it close to my heart. I challenge all my sisters, no matter your affiliation, Greek and or non Greek to do the same. We’re in this thing called life, together!

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    1. Absolutely Soror! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. We are all in this together!

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  4. Soror, this article brought tears to my eyes. As we are in the middle of Sisterhood month, I have really been reflecting on this topic. I found myself very discouraged, one month shy of a year in. Thank you for your words of encouragement, and charge to make sure I am exhibiting sisterhood in my own actions and words.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, Soror! Practicing sisterhood takes effort but is so incredibly rewarding!

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  5. What a great thought provoking piece. I just forwarded it to my chapter membership chairman. Hoping to get it added to our retreat discussion. Sending you pink and green hugs!

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    1. That’s so awesome!! Thank you so much!!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, Soror!

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  6. Sister, yes I said Sister because we are ALL SISTERS whether an AKA, Delta, SGR or Zeta. We all committed to a pledge that stretched way beyond our desires. Your article touched a feeling I’ve always felt from my interest letter to infinity…..Thanks for refreshing my letters!

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    1. Thank you so much, dear sister! You are absolutely right and I’m so glad you were moved by my piece. Thank you for reading!

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  7. Dinah Cousin Thanars March 6, 2018 — 9:57 PM

    Love, love, love your article! I am sharing it with our Sorors as well as my Greek sister friends.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and sharing!!!

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  8. Tekita you know I’m with you on this one! That’s why I created http://www.loveletterstomysorors.com because I reliazed we can sometimes lose focus of the VERY thing that sustains is through all of life’s challenges and triumphs. If e look closely – past the social stuff, past the business and under our letters (all of our letters); it’s sisterhood at the core! And that has to be celebrated so that we keep it front and center.

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    1. Absolutely Soror! Sounds like such a wonderful and timely initiative. I can’t wait to learn more!

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  9. Thank you for a concise piece on what SHOULD be. Coming up on 19 continuous yrs in AKA & the vision in your article resounds with me. Especially since my squad/inner circle/besties consists of 1 SGRho, 2 Deltas and 2 of my AKA sorors. Several of us have been friends for more than 40 YEARS. We were friends and sisters before taking our various pledges and we remain that to this day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so awesome! Thank you for reading!

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  10. Soror!!!! I love this and you are a God send for writing this. For over a month my spirit has been grieved at the lack of sisterhood within our BGLOs….it has made me personally step back and question myself and the role of other sorors in creating a true bond of sisterhood the reaches beyond barriers of pettiness to truely uplifting. Remembering our jewels. We are not only a service to the community as a service organization, but truely being a service and support to each other as women, sisters, human beings and a NPHC family is what i feel has been missing. Love you for this! OOO-OOP!

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    1. Yesssssss, Soror! This truly warms my heart, and I’m so thankful it seemed to be a timely piece for so many of us. Thank you for reading!

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  11. Thank you Sister Greek, I love this article. I have to share.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading, sister! Please do!

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  12. I’m waiting for the LIES!!! Thank goodness someone has the professional acumen and tact to articulate what I cannot. Probably because my mouth is a little on the slick side and it may come out all wrong, but that has not stopped me from speaking this truth. Thank you for bringing this conversation to the forefront Soror. I challenge anyone who refuses to accepts these very real truths to do a self-analysis of why they belong to any sisterhood. You have articulated so eloquently what needed to be said and should continue to be said until we work to make change as suggested here. When there is constant commentary and banter about being active, about t-shirt wearers, about dues, etc. (And before someone gets into their color feelings, I am referencing conversations within a group for all four BGLO sororities and these are the sentiments shared), we never want to have those hard-hitting, deep down inside conversations like this one. Well, youre talking Soror, so LET’S TALK. I sincerely hope that many receive this message and not turn a blind eye to the bigger picture that must addressed. I sincerely hope that no one takes this as a bashing article, but a finely tuned attempt to celebrate what we should be in hopes of getting us back to where we were supposed to be. MUCH LOVE.

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    1. Thank you so much Soror! I wholeheartedly agree!

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  13. Rochelle Yvette McFerguson March 7, 2018 — 8:41 AM

    I love you and this piece. Again I love you but God loves you best. Blessings

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    1. Thank you so much for reading!

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  14. mariemichellegirls March 7, 2018 — 1:45 PM

    Great and insightful read sister-greek. I will pass this along to my Sorors as well as other sister-greeks

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    1. Thank you so much, dear sister!! I greatly appreciate your support!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Excellent excellent article! All valid points. I’ve shared it with my chapter. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing!!

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  16. Reblogged this on Adjusting My Halo…Still Tilted! and commented:
    This is a good article about Sisterhood and Sorority. Sisterhood is often something I struggle with even being in a Sorority. This article gives great pointers on the topic.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and sharing!!!

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  17. Johnette White March 7, 2018 — 9:55 PM

    Thank you Soror. Valuable beautiful message especially during our Sisterhood Month. I will be sharing as well.

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  18. I am a non-Greek and in my community work I tend to get slighted by black women in sororities once they find out I am not Greek. Our group is divided my Greeks and non Greeks. Thank you for this article!

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    1. Definitely understand. Thank you for reading and sharing your experiences!

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  19. This AKA completely agrees with you. I’m 24 years in and we continue to have these conversations. Let’s hope more and more women will start to agree and work to make these points a reality.

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  20. Marie Williamson March 10, 2018 — 1:20 PM

    Soror this article was on point..thank you for taking us back to the concept that started it all!! Sisterhood!!

    Like

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