The Divine Nine was founded in 1906 because African American students were isolated and segregated from the general student population, resulting in an abysmal African American retention rate. They wanted to belong to something. They needed and felt this would allow growth and support to other African American people. They wanted to support one another. Sound familiar?
Whenever I tell someone that I belong to a sorority, the first questions are “Are your Delta or an AK? What are your colors?” and so forth. I guess the expectation is that because I am African American, I must belong to an African American sorority, right? People tend to stick to what they know and what looks like them. Stay in a comfortable place.
So why join Sigma Phi Gamma International when there are established sororities that a woman like me would “fit” into. Well, I courted some of the aforementioned sororities and did some research. I learned about some of the great things they offered, their service to others and as a plus there were tons of networking opportunities. I engaged in some interesting meet and greets, rush parties and happy hours. Soon thereafter, I was invited to some volunteer events to spend some more serious time with the members. It was at that time it became clear to me that I was different. I didn’t feel a deep connection. I realized that this wasn’t “the right fit” for me.
But I digress. From the moment I had my first phone interaction with a lovely Sister from Omicron Province nearly 7 years ago, it just felt different. She made me feel welcome over the phone. Imagine that. After several phone calls with Omicron Province, Diane Collings and discussions with my beloved Sisters, three of us made the trip to visit Rho Province during their Province weekend. Saturday morning we were called down to their business meeting, after just getting in at 2:00 am. There was a sea of white… not people, but everyone was wearing white. It was a little overwhelming. But Brenda Jones and I were blessed to sit next to Karla Cook. Later we found out who she was. Karla, God bless her, was and is so endearing. Never was she arrogant or judgmental. She never made us feel uncomfortable or different. Karla and Miriam Brown would come to be personas of the type of sorority we wanted to be a part of. A place that felt safe.
I am a very open-minded individual and try to look at humanity as a whole. I wanted to join SPG, but how would that impact my values? I don’t have the “us versus them” mindset. My parents raised me to be more than that. They grew up in Alabama during the Civil Rights movement and believed in equality for all. Ms. Mildred would say “Do not hate the person, hate the deed and pray for them.” Thank you for that Mom.
Over the years, Xi Omega and I have made many new and STRONG relationships. I didn’t join a predominantly white sorority because I wanted to be something I am not. I joined a sorority that accepted me. One that was not concerned about my pedigree or lack thereof. I joined women who wanted to support me and help me support others. I joined my own divine Sisterhood. Take a moment to hear what I am saying. I joined a group of women who by all accounts stand for Sisterhood, Community and Service. Who accept me and what I represent as an African American woman.
In these unprecedented times, I felt the need to share my journey. Racism does exists in 2020, in many obvious and subtle ways. We experience profiling, separatism, off-collar jokes in private that one thinks is cute and non-offensive and yes, many unnecessary deaths, just because of how God made us.
But know this, SPG as a group has the opportunity to show the world we are inclusive to all. We can continue to lift up everyone, no matter their color, their sexual orientation, their educational background, their social economics, etc. Our Chapter is made up a rainbow. We are Jamaican, Caribbean, Puerto Rican, Guyanese, Dominican, Jewish and African American. We are one. So why SPG? Because SPG allows a platform for women of ALL BACKGROUNDS and that is a what I tell all who ask. I hope when you are recruiting new members you don’t just look in your own backyard, but take a moment to reach out to someone who is different, as they may have a lot to offer. ALL LIVES MATTER.
In peace and love.
A proud member of Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority.