By Leslie E. Royal
When it comes to African American women, there is nothing like Sisterhood. These special relationships with biological sisters, adopted sisters, sorority sisters, best friends, mothers, grandmothers, aunts or daughters are vitally important to the lives of many. Through the generations, from baby boomers to Gen X, Y, Z, millennial and beyond, women draw strength from their indestructible bonds of honor, love and loyalty. Ashro asked eight women to share what “The Sisterhood Connection” means to them.
Megan Sithole, 26 and Tandy Sithole, 24
“Sisterhood, to me, means love, connection, and an unbreakable bond.”
“Sisterhood represents a bond like no other. It signifies accountability, love, and, most importantly, trust..”
Tandy and Megan feel The Sisterhood Connection is vital in their lives and the lives of others. It’s important to have that special someone who understands and supports you without being judgmental and hypercritical. These sisters feel it’s imperative to have a sibling who is so connected to you, and have their finger on the pulse of your emotions. (They know when you are happy, sad, depressed or glad!) True sibling sisterhood means that you can laugh, cry and pray together, as well as always love and forgive one another. You can cherish that unbreakable bond that transcends time and lasts forever.
Strong Women Who Inspire Them
Megan – “My mother is one of the strongest women I know. She has dealt with so many calamities and I’ve watched her overcome them each time. My Aunt Thoko loves God and has taught me how to walk by faith and not by sight.”
Tandy – “My mother, Matty, is there for me when I’m not there for myself. Her strength, tenacity and wisdom inspire me to persevere despite what obstacles may come my way. My Aunt Thoko’s success and wisdom serves as a positive reinforcement in my life, too.”
“Growing up, my sister and I were always together. (Not always by choice.) But it always felt good knowing that I had someone looking up to me. My parents always reminded us to respect and love each other. However, that advice did not resonate until I got to college. Tandy and I became very close when I left for school and we have been inseparable ever since. We have a bond that can’t be broken, and she literally is my best friend.”
“Growing up, my parents would always encourage my sister and I to love and trust each other. My sister is two years older and I have always looked up to her. When we were younger, I would emulate her until she would get annoyed. I literally wanted to do everything she did because I thought it was cool. Our relationship peaked when I was a junior in high school and she went off to college. During that period of my life, I experienced difficult and painful moments with friends and guys. But my sister was always there for me. As the years went by, we grew closer and closer. At this point, I don’t even label her as just my sister. She is also my best friend and my other half.”
Yvette Terry Harris, 49 and Yvonne Terry Browder, 49
“Sisterhood is one of most meaningful relationships (bonded by blood or by common interest) that women have with each other. It requires intentional effort. As a twin, sisterhood is the ultimate, unique relationship between two individuals. ”
“Sisterhood. It’s a connection or bond of support and encouragement.”
Many of us are intrigued and captivated by twins. We’re fascinated that two people can look almost exactly alike and share such a unique bond from birth. Yvette and Yvonne were born four minutes apart. (Yvonne is the ‘big’ sister.) They have shared everything from a room and clothes to friends and precious times together. Although they dressed alike until 4th grade, their parents encouraged individuality, giving them the space to explore and be themselves. While they are identical twins, they have very different personalities. Their mom often said, “They are like day and night!”
Yvette and Yvonne believe that we are our “Sister’s Keeper.” They believe that it’s important to accept the authentic selves of African American women and empower each other to fight for the dreams we all deserve. Yvette encourages women to be a friend without being too scared, selfish or insecure to help, and to value others as we do ourselves. Yvonne stresses the importance of women being open, honest, respectful and helpful to each other – with the understanding that we’re only as strong as the weakest chain link in The Sisterhood Connection.
Strong Women Who Inspire Them
Yvette – “My mother, Cynthia S. Terry, has courage, strength and a fearless approach to life’s challenges. My paternal grandmother, Lucille Terry, was strong, brave and humble.”
Yvonne – “My mother makes a point of keeping us connected to our family history. She has strong determination and doesn’t let anything stop or slow her down. My childhood friends, Tonia, Achele and Stacy, hold each other up and we are connected 40-plus years later. My ‘Kode 7 Crew’ are ladies who I developed relationships with at church that bloomed into a sisterhood.”
Yvette’s Twin Take
“It is a powerful and incomparable sibling bond that is unlike any other sibling bond. There’s nothing like it. I don’t know what it’s like to not grow up with a twin sister. Having no other siblings besides the two of us, I don’t know what it’s like to not be a twin. I can’t imagine not having my twin sister who always has my back.”
Yvonne’s Twin Take
“I believe our bond is natural. But we work at it. All relationships require work to maintain them. We get to do things together, grow up together and experience things together. My sister even felt some labor pains when I had my children. So, our connection is as close as it is different. I am more of a free spirit and she is more conservative.”
Mother-Daughter Sorority Sisters
Carolyn Allen Lovett, 68 and Kimberly M. Walker, 41
“Sisterhood means Legacy. The opportunity to experience this sisterhood with my daughter is nothing short of phenomenal, a term which also aptly describes her.”
“Sisterhood means, in one word, Everything. As a Legacy, my Mom was my first (and best) example of finer womanhood. My mother is everything I pray, hope and work to be; I am grateful for her.”
The term Legacy has manifold meanings. But within Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., founded January 15, 1908, Legacy has a wholly unique connotation. It is a word dedicated to grandmothers, mothers and daughters that are members of the sorority. Kimberly is the Legacy of Carolyn. And together, in The Sisterhood, they have been lovingly serving the local and global community for a number of years. Reminded of the scripture, “iron sharpens iron”, the mother-daughter duo encourages women to have that Sisterhood Connection. It will enable them to help you become your best self and draw on years of knowledge, skills and abilities that will advance you to the next level. Further, they stress the vital importance of building strong relationships, celebrating, loving and caring for each other. Challenging (while congratulating) friends along life’s journey and maintaining loyalty and transparent communication is important.
Strong Women Who Inspire Them
Carolyn – “One that readily comes to mind is Fannie Allen, my college roommate, sorority sister and friend of fifty-plus years. We have been through numerous triumphs and tragedies, and she has always been there, exhibiting the epitome of strength and grace.”
Kimberly – “Cherilyn N. Chatman, my college roommate, and I have been sister-friends since 1994. We’ve experienced the highs and lows of life – together. Her calm, yet unyielding, spirit focuses me in a loving way.”
A Page from Carolyn’s ‘Mom Memoire’
“Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has provided another vehicle through which I can transmit values that, for more than a century, have strengthened families and communities throughout the world. Having Kimberly M. Walker as my daughter and my Legacy is indescribable. I am so grateful that she embraced the sisterhood of the sorority with unbridled enthusiasm and passion. She has served the sorority tirelessly, and with distinction. Our personal values and skillsets are complementary, enabling us to work extraordinarily well together. She has fulfilled every expectation and vision that a mother has for her daughter; and she has done so with so much love and grace. Now, she has become my role model! Kimberly is my best friend, Soror and my joy. It doesn’t get any better than that!”
A Page from Kimberly’s ‘Daughter Diary’
“The opportunity to impact the Dekalb County, Georgia community and beyond, through this illustrious sorority with my Mother, Sister and Best Friend, is nothing short of amazing. My vocabulary almost seems inadequate to describe what it means to be the Legacy of Carolyn A. Lovett. It is a manifested dream. Our bond as Mother/Daughter amplifies our ability to be impactful together as Sorors. Our ability to effectively communicate, trust each other’s decisions and compromise, undoubtedly perfectly positions us to serve together in a number of capacities. While I enjoy and work well with other Sorors, she is by far my favorite!”
Best Friends of 50 Years
Lula Joann Dukes Gray, 66 and Pamela Gray, 65
For over five decades, through the best of times and through the sad times, Lula and Pamela have been the best of friends. They have always been there to love, support and encourage one another. The unhappiest times of their lives were the sudden death of Lula’s daughter Tonya at the age of 20, the passing of the love of Pamela’s life, and the loss of sisters and brothers. But they have experienced such wonderful times traveling on road trips, visiting each other in various cities they moved to…and just plain hanging out.
The friends encourage women to nurture their relationships and not be too quick to give unsolicited advice and to judge. And when giving advice, utilize your own experiences in order to empathize with you friend’s situation. Whether good times or bad times, be there for your friend. Be a shoulder to cry on and just listen to what your friend has to say. Here’s a bit of advice from Pam and Lula to maintain The Sisterhood Connection: Sometimes, if you can’t resolve a problem that you may have, don’t dwell on it. Just let it go. Somehow, these things have a way of working themselves out. Lula says that the bond may get tattered or it may stretch, but it will never break. Realize that because God brought you together as friends, you will ALWAYS be together.
“To me, Sisterhood, as it relates to Pam Gray, means I know I will forever have a friend who I can always count on. We are always together. If not physically, then mentally.”
“Sisterhood means being there for each other no matter what. It means having each other’s back at all times.”
Strong Women Who Inspire Them
Lula – “The first special, strong woman in my life is my big sister, Lizzie Mae Dukes Guess. She is my role model. She has had a lot of adversities in her life and always met them head on. When our mother died, she was 15 and I was 5. She took over the role as mother to me. She taught and guided me even as an adult. Our circle is not complete without mentioning our other backbone, Helen Taylor Lewis. She is our other sister who is also always with us. Other strong women are Geneva Davis, Verna Kirk, Jean Dasher, Paulette McDaniel and Everlena Diggs.”
Pamela – “Women that have impacted my life are Helen Taylor Lewis and my aunt, Ann Bowers.”
Lula’s List of Memories
“Pam and I met in English class in 8th grade in 1965. She had been living in Florida. She had just lost her mother and moved back to Savannah. The loss of both of our mothers at such young ages was an immediate bond for us. Our teacher asked me to let her share my English book with me. We started talking and I told her to call me Joann and she told me to call her Pam. We found out we lived a block apart on the same street. That started a lifetime friendship. Wow, there have been so many wonderful times over the years. We watched our children grow up together. Helen became the third best friend a decade later. Her children also grew up with Pam’s and mine. Together we had eight children. Our children nicknamed the three of us the Golden Girls years ago. Now, we really are the Golden Girls.”
Pamela’s Picks of Memories
“Sisters in the name of love. That’s us. Joann and I have been friends since the eighth grade. That was in 1965. Here I was, the new kid in English class, and the teacher says ‘Irene, (my middle name) you sit with Lula.’ Once seated, I told her, ‘Call me Pam,’ and she said ‘Call me Joann.’ And the rest, as they say, is history. After high school, she went to Arkansas and I started my own journey. No matter what, we would always reconnect. If there were any disagreements, they were never serious enough to keep us from being there for each other. We are Godmothers to each other’s children. Now we really are sisters because she married my brother!”
Read More About Friendships that Inspire and Sisterhoods that Empower:
Quotes to Encourage and Inspire Your Sisterhood:
Leslie E. Royal is a Travel & Fashion Contributor for Ashro. An international freelance writer, her articles have appeared in Upscale, ESSENCE, Black Enterprise, FORTUNE.com, and The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of How to Write and Self-Publish Your Book for FREE with Amazon’s CreateSpace (Amazon $9.95) and Leslie’s Lane The Book! (Amazon $14.95). Follow her on @LesliesLane.
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