Sister Circle: Develop Relationships With the Students and Model Civil Discourse

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By: Alyssa Bourne | abourne1@radford.edu

With social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, having an open discussion can be difficult, especially with internet trolls. However, that was not the case on Tuesday night with Sister Circle. 

This group, along with others such as the Transgender Advocacy Group, Queer People of Color, and Brother 2 Brother, are safe spaces for students to discuss topics relevant to them. 

“They are also for faculty and staff members to develop relationships with the students and model civil discourse,” said Buffy Ruffin, assistant director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion

The topic discussed at Sister Circle Tuesday night was about Intersectionality and the importance of sharing the stories of black women who have died by police brutality. 

“I thought it would be an empowering moment to be surrounded by women who identify as I identify,”

Kimberle Crenshaw, a scholar of critical race theory, created the term Intersectionality. It is about the many classifications like race, gender, class, and sexuality given to an individual or group that can create different forms of discrimination or disadvantages.

The meeting featured an open discussion, and concerns were raised about bringing awareness to Intersectionality. Students such as Destiny Goodwin, a political science major, were sharing insightful realizations of what black women go through and other factors of marginalization, along with how vital clubs like this can be for students. 

“I thought it would be an empowering moment to be surrounded by women who identify as I identify,” Goodwyn said. “Not necessarily those outside identifications like sexuality or anything like that, but definitely being a woman and being black. I think that those are two prominent things that I identify with.”

Intersectionality, in this case, was on being both a woman and black. It was a fascinating conversation, especially for students who are used to classroom settings. People in these groups can understand common issues on a deeper level.

So why should someone listen and contribute to this conversation? 

“I just like having discussions about, not necessarily just race, but I like having intellectual and educated discussion and hearing from those around me, so I don’t feel like the only young person who takes an interest in the social, or economic or any type of issue that we continue to experience,” Goodwyn said. 

The topics are not only about race; discussions can be about any subject that is relevant to women in their daily lives.

The idea of the group was created by intern Essence Collins and an Admissions Counselor, and pursued by Buffy Ruffin. It was then enhanced by another intern, Brianna Harris, from West Georgia University. The curiosity and passion of the people in the discussions heightened the casual setting. 

This was all made possible by Dr. Teisha Martin, Crystal Hubbard, and Dr. Sharon Jones, who helped dive into the conversation and encourage participants to think more in-depth about the topic.

“It’s beautiful to see women of all ages pour into each other. Witnessing the exchange in the room and the way we all seem to get it without having to have all the right words to say to describe what we all get brings solace to the identities we share,” Ruffin said. 

Topics like this and many others need to be had, and Clubs like Sister Circle are a good start when it comes to tackling the topics that must be approached. 

Sister Circle meets every other Tuesday in Heth Hall 157, at 5:30 pm.

Keep up with other campus highlights on The Tartan newspaper.

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