Former Fresno State program coordinator reflects on ‘Sistah to Sistah’
After six years with Fresno State and African American Programs and Services (AFAM) and Leadership Programs and Services, Brianna White had her last day as program coordinator on February 11.
Prior to leaving college, White reflected on her proudest memories as a coordinator, one of which was the Sistah to Sistah program.
Hosted in the Harambee Room, located in Room 109 of the Thomas Building, Sistah to Sistah is a discussion group that meets biweekly on Wednesdays as a safe space for Black and African American women.
“I think the point of Sistah to Sistah is to really maintain that bond of sisterhood and that trust and that respect as black women. We want to continue to lift each other up, encourage each other and be there for each other,” White said.
She started as acting coordinator from August to December 2019, then became permanent coordinator of the program in November 2020, in the midst of the pandemic.
White recalled that during her first year in person, the Harambee room at Thomas 109 was so full of students that they sat on the floor because they ran out of chairs. She said students would go beyond meeting time to have in-depth conversations or just talk about the things going on in their day.
One of his favorite meetings was in October 2019, when they painted pumpkins for fall.
“It was so cute to see all the different designs and stuff. And then just to laugh and talk. I think we were talking about a lot of things. Well, that day we talked about cultural appropriation and race relations,” White said.
Marisa Williams, junior coordinator and Fresno State student for Sistah to Sistah, said this was the first meeting she had been to.
“I remember there were…about 10 girls in there and it was so much fun. It was a little powwow,” Williams said.
She stated that she would continue to plan and coordinate Sistah to Sistah events after White’s departure. White said Williams was like his right-hand man, and the two built on each other to develop the program.
White said Williams was a “blessing” to have, especially when programs started having their meetings virtually, White said.
“It is very difficult to connect virtually. And there’s also a lot of burnout and fatigue when we’re going through a pandemic,” White said.
“It was, like, we have to rebuild a relationship with our black students more because so much has been lost. So much has been lost and we have to relearn the campus. »
Williams said more work needs to be done to attract students back to in-person events now that the campus is open again. She joined the program last semester, and although White is leaving, Williams said it would be an “injustice to my peers and to myself” if she left.
The goal is to make sure everyone knows what the program is about, White added.
“It’s important for our black students to know they have a space because there’s this feeling on campus of needing a place to belong, for sure,” White said. “And I know we provide those spaces. Absoutely. But then, [we] also want to be a safe space for allies or friends, family members or spouses and partners.
White said the women who attend are able to be vulnerable and open to sharing everything, whether it’s relationships, friendships or family, so it helps to have multiple perspectives.
“[Sistah to Sistah] is designed for a safe space for black women to deal with, but we welcome everyone. And we have a number of students from all walks of life and all ethnicities who have participated. It’s not just the students, it’s the staff as well, which is really exciting,” White said.