Why Not The Divine Nine? by Tanya Patterson-Stanley

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 phoneImagine 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.

Tanya Patterson-Stanley

A proud member of Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority.

14 thoughts on “Why Not The Divine Nine? by Tanya Patterson-Stanley”

  1. Oh my gosh T! So well said! I love you so much and value your friendship and gifts. You are the embodiment of a true Sigma Phi Gamma Sister and I am proud to know you!

  2. WOW! That is probably one of the best written Blogs I have read in a very long time! I love being an SPG Sister and it is because of our diversity. We have amazing women in our sorority and I hope we continue to bring in more!

  3. I am very touched by your openness – the way you are able to express the true meaning of SPG. You are a gem! I am proud to have you as a “Sister.”

  4. To my Xi Omega Sisters,
    We are so blessed that you took a chance on SPG. From the first time we all met to the last time we saw each other in March, we have made so many memories and laughed so hard. My world is better with all of you in it. And Ms. Mildred is spot on. I love that she is an honorary Phi Province Sister. Her wisdom is beyond words. Love you all and until we can be together again, hugs and cheers.

  5. Phi Province is so proud of our Xi Omega Sisters and Tanya in particular.
    As a Chapter they have brought so much energy and love to our organization.
    May we continue to attract diverse and talented women with so much to give.
    Love to you all!

  6. Tanya, not only are you able to talk the talk but you truly were raised to walk the walk. I witnessed that first hand when we spent time together at Phi Province. Just women connecting and sharing, no other agenda. Your Chapter is awesome! Love you ladies!

  7. OHHHH Tanya, having seen you on Facebook, I have wished we could meet in person. The Blog was SO very WELL said and is how WE ALL feel about Sigma Phi Gamma. I have been in SPG since 1966 and thankful for my sorority Sisters everyday. I am in the first Virtual Chapter which is just perfect for me.

  8. I was raised in a military family. From a young age it was made clear to us, racial discrimination was unacceptable. We were to be accepting of everyone.
    Yes I see the color of your skin, but your skin color is not who you are. There are good and bad people in every color. Accept each person for themselves, one on one, they don’t represent their whole ethnicity.
    Black lives DO matter. ALL lives matter. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
    We can’t change our history but we can learn from it going forward. I can’t know the road you’ve walked or the battles you’ve weathered, but I can accept you as you and grow our friendship based on who we are.
    As human beings we need to be kind and accepting of others. The differences each person brings makes life interesting!

  9. So well written Tanya. We are so lucky that you chose SPG and are proud of our Xi Omega Sisters. You have brought so much energy to Phi Province and we love you all.

  10. Tanya, your Blog post was beautifully written and brought me to tears. You are such a wonderful person, Sister and friend. 💕

  11. Dear Tanya,
    Like so many of my Sisters, I have tears in my eyes from the depth of feelings reading your blog. I have been so blessed by your friendship and my Sisters in Xi Omega. SPG has enriched my life and brought much joy. Thank you Tanya, for setting down in words what so many of us feel. I look forward to the day when we can hug in person. For now, XXXOOO 💖

  12. To Tanya,
    I just finished reading your Divine Nine article and I too sit here with tears streaming down my face! You couldn’t have said it better!! I thank you for being a Sigma Phi Gamma girl. You have been a joy to know and I always look for your smiling face at meetings. I too look forward to the day we can hug again in person. My Love to you all. 💝

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