Sister2Sister Executive Board. (From L-R: Aaliyah Drew, Audrey Evelyn, (down) Marissa Bockeno, (up) Tamia Taylor, Kayla Brathwaite and Mollie McKinney) Captured by Maya Lewis.
On Sunday, January 27, the Sister2Sister executive board members gathered for a photoshoot in our Creative and Editorial Director’s apartment. S2S is an organization focused on the empowerment of women of color at Ithaca College. The photos would be used to display the beautiful women who are a part of the organization and help to raise awareness for the Annual Black History Month Showcase. When Candace and Kylee arrived, backpacks of bright clothes and rummaged-through makeup bags were scattered across the floor, the dining room table and the nearby chairs. After shooting for an hour, the KINKS host pulled aside co-presidents, Audrey Evelyn and Aryanna Myles to chat about the organization and showcase coming up on February 8.
Part I: Kylee C. Roberts V. Audrey Evelyn
Kylee C. Roberts: How excited are you about this photoshoot today?
Audrey Evelyn: I’m pretty excited
KCR: I love the photos we were taking of you all together - like sitting really close together. Are you gals all real friends outside of the organization?
AE: So the way it worked out, I was the only one who could be president besides Aryanna. So we started choosing people we thought would be good for the roles and we asked them
AE: So we knew them all personally before they came in.
KCR: Oh nice! So were you all a part of the organization before you joined the e-board?
AE: So all of us were a part of it at some point. Aryanna and I had positions last year, the only ones who had positions out of us, and then this year became co-presidents. The rest of them were in the [general] body.
KCR: So you’re a junior right?
KCR: I literally can’t believe that I thought you were older than me somehow.
AE: [Laughs] Thank you!
KCR: How long have you been a part of Sister2Sister?
AE: I started my second semester freshman year. I guess the first semester I always wanted to go but I never knew - being a freshman I didn’t know what i was doing.
KCR: Yeah we’ve totally all been there. Like, “Can I be here?”
Audrey Evelyn, Co-President of Sister2Sister. Captured by Maya Lewis.
KCR: So what was it like going to one of the meetings for the first time?
AE: The meetings are very different from the rest of the campus. They were very chill , which I wasn’t expecting. I thought it would be a very structured, official thing but that’s not how they wanted it to be. They wanted it to be a space we create for ourselves - I guess more chill than a classroom setting. A space where we can talk about things off the record, how we want to say it, when we want to say it. I really liked that about it.
KCR: Do you think that your - I mean, a lot of things have happened at Ithaca College; When I got here my first year we experienced all the POC @ IC protests. DO you think being a part of a club for women of color has really influenced the way you see Ithaca College?
AE: I think it definitely has, and i think it changed my perspective for the better. I didn’t think I ever needed a safe space until I was in the safe space, and I realized how it important it was to have those types of spaces, especially for all women of color. At Ithaca College we have a different type of experience and I felt the most validated while I was there. All of the people who were in the e-board my freshman year were a part of the POC @ IC movement. That definitely benefited the environment as well because they knew what was going on the year before.
KCR: Right - Do you think your [Sociology] major has also affected how you run the organization? I’m a sociology minor - and we’re taking that Sociology and Nature class together - Do you think the major helps you see more into how the dynamics play out?
AE: I think it changed my perspective - being a sociology major - seeing how we navigate through the school, versus within the club and with each other. I came in exploratory and I think Sister2Sister had a lot to do with why I declared my sociology major.
KCR: That makes a lot of sense and I’m sure people empathize with that.
AE: Yeah for sure.
KCR: So let’s talk about the showcase. This is the third year it’s happening, right?
AE: Yes, this is the third annual showcase. We used to do it bi-annually but we just revised the constitution so it’s annual during Black History Month.
KCR: Why do you think it’s important to do every year instead of every other year?
AE: I think we need more consistency on this campus with events for POC. I think it’s something that people look forward to. A lot of people ask us in advance if they can do it for the following years; a lot of performers saying “I can’t wait another two years to do this.” I think it’s important to have this every year because we don’t have events that showcase our talent like this.
KCR: In my personal experience the first time I went to the showcase was my first year. Amongst all of the POC @ IC events happening this showcase shifted me. I was covering it for an intro to journalism class and sitting there watching performances from students, professors and spoken word poets and dancers - I was completely moved. I’m so happy you’re doing it every year because everyone should have a chance to see it.
AE: I think so too.
KCR: So what are you most excited for?
AE: I’m most excited for the performance obviously, but I am excited to show what POC on this campus have to offer.
April Carroll performing spoken word poetry at the 2016 S2S Black History Month Showcase. Photo Captured by Kylee Roberts.
KCR: What is the general marketing strategy for this?
AE: We’re personally inviting the CSCRE Department (Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity), IDEAS (The Center for Inclusion Diversity Equity and Social Change), some professors, other POC organizations on campus - but it’s open to everyone so we’re posting all over the school. It’s important that we’re not just seeing each other’s talents but that everyone can.
KCR: Right. Does it frustrate you sometimes that white people don’t come to events like this? Because sometimes it’s kind of like, “You should be the ones attending this because I already know all of this. I don’t need to learn more about why I’m underprivileged.”
[Screams of laughter, “YES BABE” and “I SEE YOU!” abrupt from the living room as the girls are still taking photos]
AE: It is frustrating to a certain extent. White people who have come up to me have asked, “Can I even attend?” They’re like, “I don’t know if I’m supposed to be there,” “Is there a place for me in that space?” Personally I think, yeah, you’re supposed to see these things happening because we need it to be heard. We need our voices to be heard and not just by each other.
KCR: I think the feedback I generally hear is, “Oh, I feel uncomfortable,” or “I’m invading a space not meant for me.” How do you think we feel at this school everyday? Being the only person of color in a room. You can’t sit down and learn for a second?
KCR: Is there anything else you want to add about S2S?
AE: Well we definitely need more women of color, especially upperclassman. A lot of underclassman come to the meetings but we want the older representation so we can all learn from each other.
KCR: What are you planning on doing this semester?
AE: We’re looking forward to a new e-board, so we’re looking for people to run. We are looking forward to the S2S lock in after the showcase.
KCR: Oh what’s that?
AE: The lock in is essentially a sleepover. It’s a time to bond outside of the club meetings and create stronger relationships with each other that last longer than a week. So that's usually at the end of the semester; order food, watch movies play games -
KCR: That’s so cute! Oh my god. I love that idea. Also, congratulations on becoming a BOLD scholar - that’s an incredible opportunity.
AE: Thank you!
Part II: Candace Cross (Accompanied by Sofia Muriel-Meadows) V. Aryanna Myles
Candace Cross: So how did you get involved with Sister2Sister?
Aryanna Myles: Freshman year there were a lot of student protests going on on campus and I wanted to make friends with people, so I decided to join Sister2Sister then. She graduated last year, Denise, who was the event planner for Sister2Sister, just grabbed me while I was walking through the Org Fair and told me to sign up. Since then - I mean, yeah, now I’m the co-President.
CC: Wow that’s amazing. So what are the Sisterhood qualities you’ve really embraced about S2S? Or how has it gotten you through your college experience?
AM: I feel like I’ve gained a lot of confidence through S2S. In the past I didn’t really speak up about important stuff; so when we spoke about heavy stuff and people voiced the same thoughts I had, I felt my voice could be heard if not in the classroom. I learned a lot from S2S in terms of vales: Family, sisterhood, looking out for one another even if you don’t know another g-body member that well, at least it’s a familiar face.
Aryanna Myles, Co-President of Sister2Sister. Captured by Maya Lewis.
CC: The showcase is coming up; what kind of acts should we be expecting?
AM: We’re gonna have dances, poetry, acting, visual arts: It’s a very weird mix but I’m excited or it! We’ll also be having kids from the Southside Community Center coming in which is going to be really nice. We’ve always had partnerships in the past, but now we’re officially creating a partnership with Southside. This was especially important to us because the Southside Community Center was one of the first African-American community organizations in the area. We thought it was very important to make that connection, and our club advisor, Dr. Nia, is on the board for Southside.
CC: I like how you’re getting the kids involved here at the college because I know sometimes as students we don’t reach out too much.
AM: I feel there’s definitely a divide. Like you can see it geographically. Ithaca College is perched on a hill while the rest of Ithaca is down. This is a good way to make a connection.
CC: What has the relationship with Dr. Nia been like? She seems to be one of those professors on campus with such a big personality and everyone knows who she is.
AM: That is very true. When I first met Dr. Nia freshman year she embraced me so much, like I was family. I never had a class with Dr. Nia but she knew my name, she knew everything about me. Now that I’m on the e-board and getting to work with her, it’s really nice to have a professor whose on your side and cares about your issues, besides, like, just grading my papers. She’s very passionate about what she does on and off campus, and that’s what I really appreciate about her.
CC: Besides creating a stronger bond with Southside, what are some goals and aspiration you have before handing the e-board over?
AM: I think our goals this year was mainly collaboration. Last year we did an event with B4B, the Brothers for Brothers organization which was a very big deal. In the past S2S and B4B haven’t had a lot of events: So hopefully this semester we continue to work with other POC orgs, or even just other student orgs on campus like...Passion Project. [Everyone giggles] Overall, learning how to unify and embrace our differences.
CC: That’s a great goal! Why do you think collaborating and connecting with these orgs is so important?
AM: I think all the student orgs are targeted towards the freshman, so they join all these organizations. As the years go by, we stick to one org and if you’re a part of an e-board you don’t really get a chance to see the others at work. With that, it’s important to reach out to other clubs and create a united force.
CC: I feel there are so many organizations on Ithaca College’s campus and a lot of them do very similar things. Instead of recreating them I feel collaboration is a better way to send out a message.
AM: You get very invested in one organization.
CC: Sister2Sister has a bunch of beautiful POC women who are in the g-body and e-board, and you all have wonderful, diverse hair textures. But what is your go-to slash favorite hair product. And favorite protective style.
AM: Uhhh Okay. My favorite go-to products are Argan oil and grape-seed oil. But if we’re doing companies...I don’t like to stick to one, whatever’s on sale-
AM: Right now I’m using the Shea Moisture Low Porosity Leave-In which has been really good; I might stick to it. For protective styles I wear a lot of twists. Honestly sometimes doing your hair requires a lot of work [Candace points out her Senegalese twists and laughs]. Sometimes I wake up and just feel like [in a begrudging tone] “ugh, another day.” So yeah doing twists or ponytail is a go to.
CC: Sofia do you have any questions?
Sofia Muriel-Meadows: What has been your favorite topic you guys have spoken about? I know every Friday there’s a different topic.
AM: I really liked talking about sexuality and sexual agency-
SMM: That was so fun!
AM: Oh right you were there! [Both laugh] It was really nice and even though we didn’t really know each other everyone was comfortable talking about what they liked, what they disliked. It was a very healthy conversation that’s typically seen as taboo, but we were able to break that during the meeting.
CC: What can people expect this semester from meetings?
AM: Last semester we asked our g-body what they wanted to talk about and have been going over things with the e-board. On our social media we’ve been polling. Overall trying to make session informative and as fun as possible.
As the hosts of KINKS, Candace and Kylee understand a bit about what creating space for WOC looks like and the crucialness of having it. S2S has created a much needed territory for identifying women of color at Ithaca College and continues to do so through the annual showcase and weekly meetings. If you want to join the network of strong, gorgeous women of color, weekly meetings take place in the ALS room in West Tower at 5pm on Fridays.