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Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Incorporated

Inside Foley’s Journey Women’s Issues: Radical Birthwork as an Act of Resistance Greek Unity: Join the Conversation Our Chapters: Mosaic, Bodhati

Summer 2014


From Our President

Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc. National Governing Council 2013-2015 Zuly Salazar Destinidas National President Dagersy Jaquez Themiskyra National Vice President Lorimar Santiago Concordia National Secretary Jackie Lopez Amazona National Officer of Membership Tashanna Williams Xurima National Assistant Officer of Membership Josie Acosta Haumea National Officer of Expansion Ashley Hill Haumea National New Chapter Advisor Jennifer Rencher-Ndombi Siksika National Historian Sabrina Colón Dhyani National Officer of Communications Monifa Ellis Zaona National Step Director Nicole Mitchell Dhyani National Officer of Community Affairs Ely Duran Las Conquistadoras National Officer of Public Relations

Greetings to my Sophisticated Sisters, I’m sure we are all grateful to finally have some nice weather and of course, to be reading our summer edition of the phenomenal Amazonian Newsletter. Thanks to the vision and dedication that our outstanding Communications Officer, Sabrina Colón, and the Amazonian committee has contributed to the organization over the past year. It has truly been inspiring and breathtaking to read about the outstanding accomplishments and life-stories our sisters and chapters have received and shared with us. Your character, hard work, and dedication to our organization, your communities, your families, and daily lives are far beyond valuable and enriching to me. It has been one of my daily motivations and reminders to why I joined such a beautiful sisterhood and served as your National President. I’m proud to announce our 10th Annual MSU Convention taking place June 6-8, 2014, at the Marriott Spa and Hotel in Stamford, CT hosted by our lovely Concordia Chapter (UCONN) and Convention Committee. Such a great, fun-filled weekend of reconnecting, meeting, and sharing new memories with our stunning MUs across the nation. With workshops ranging from social media to goal-setting & power planning, white table (real) talk and our annual STAR Awards dinner; we have much to celebrate. Not to mention our national meeting where we’ll be electing new national governing body board members and proposals that will enhance our constitution. As I look back at this past year and all of the time, effort, struggles, sleepless nights, laughter, tears, and emotions that I have experienced, I would not change it for the world. Since the day I became a loyal sister of Mu Sigma Upsilon, I aspired to one day be National President and I am beyond humbled to be given the opportunity to serve my sorority as best I could. I am extremely proud of every single one of you serving on a governing level (Aretias, district, and chapter level) and behind the scenes. We all do it for the love of MU! Congratulations to all of our neophytes, chapters, college graduates, expecting and new mommies, newly engaged, newly married, etc. Continue to inspire those around you with your will to strive for a better tomorrow. Thank you all for giving this Jersey girl the opportunity of a lifetime; and now I shall leave you with a lovely quote from our beloved Harriet Tubman, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Zuly Salazar NGC President 2013-2015

Denisse Babiche Hasinai National Programming Chair

Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Incorporated was founded on November 21, 1981, at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ as the first multicultural minority Greek letter society in the nation.

Adrienne Cummings Anansi National Officer of Retention

Founding Mothers Eve Bracero, Lillian Sierra, Karinee Candelario, Ruth Gonzalez, Sylvia Vigo


Inside this Issue 1

Greek Unity: Join the Conversation

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Sister Profile: Shirain Banner

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Foley’s Journey

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Cover Story: Being the Change Women’s Issues: Radical Birthwork as an Act of Resistance

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Our Chapters: Mosaic, Bodhati

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Graduates & Chapter Achievements

Editor’s Desk This issue of our newsletter brings us full circle. With three issues a year, we have now told a full year’s worth of stories with countless more to go. When I was given the opportunity to become the Editor of our national newsletter, I knew I would not have to look far for great content, but now that I have had a front row seat I am truly amazed at the accomplishments our Sister are achieving everyday. What is even more amazing, is that you all just call it life. You live your values and lead by example, making my job very easy. Thank you all for letting me share your stories and thank you to everyone who has been reading along. Keep the stories coming! In Sisterhood,

Sabrina Colón

National Officer of Communications

The Amazonian Official newsletter of Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc Editor Sabrina Colón National Officer of Communications Contributing Writers Sarah Hillware, Roma Chapter Jamie Strouse, Genesis Chapter Ynanna Djehuty, Orisha Chapter Angelica Matos, Yemaya Chapter Nicole Gomez, Bodhati Chapter Diana Calle, Mosaic Chapter On the cover: Sarah Hillware, Roma Chapter The Amazonian is published three times a year. Send inquiries and submissions to: Communications@MSU1981.org www.MSU1981.org 163 East Main Street #312 Little Falls, NJ 07424


National Convention June 6 - 8, 2014 Stamford, CT www.MSUConvention.weebly.com


Greek Unity

Angelica (center) with her fellow Graduate Staff members

Join the Conversation

environment to become a product of me.”

Attending the AFA National Meeting

With that in mind, here I am almost six years later at Lehigh and two years after joining MSU. I’ve been able to plan events with my chapter sisters, make a name for ourselves on campus, and see our chapter grow. I’ve served as my chapter’s Officer of Membership, Alumni Advisor, and was Assistant Officer of Membership for Miakardia’s Founding Line. I was also involved with the revival of the Jhansi Chapter as interim District Officer of Expansion, and Assistant Officer of Membership for District III.

Angelica Matos I’ve had a unique experience as a member of Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Incorporated, to say the least. Throughout the majority of my undergraduate career, I never thought I would want to be part of a Greek organization. I’ve had many opportunities for involvement, but of the options present at my alma mater – there weren’t any Greek organizations that appealed to me. With MSU, I never felt like I was being recruited. Instead, I met sisters of so many walks of life and cultures and heard the statement that had me sold “MSU is a sorority for non-sorority women.” The women, my sisters, who make up MSU embody something greater than I had known. I knew that it was the last thing I had

to see through before graduating from Lehigh University as an undergraduate. Founding the Yemaya Chapter was an amazing experience, but with my last day of classes only two days after my crossing and graduation a month later, it did have a bittersweet feeling. I didn’t have the traditional undergraduate ‘Greek’ experience of planning events and attending socials, but there was a lot more I needed to accomplish before I said goodbye to my university. I decided to obtain my Master’s and support the growth of my chapter and MSU along with my graduate studies. My favorite quote is and always will be, “I don’t want to become a product of my environment, I want my

On campus, I joined the Office of Fraternity/Sorority Affairs MGC Expansion Committee and National Panhellenic Conference extension committee. I was awarded the MGC Alumni Advisor of the Year. This past year, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors’ The Amazonian – Summer 2014 | 1


Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. The AFA is comprised of professionals and volunteers who work on college campuses, fraternity/sorority headquarters, and businesses that support fraternity/ sorority members. Members also volunteer locally or nationally for their fraternity/sorority, or for organizations that support Greek organizations. As Graduate Staff, I was responsible for staffing the Annual Meeting, organizing registration, and assisting with on-site office operations, opening/closing educational programs and distributing communication. Upon joining AFA, I was advised that being selected as a member of Graduate Staff was very competitive. Even though I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished within the Greek community, I was excited and surprised to be one of eight chosen from 70 qualified and passionate second-year graduate students across the country. I was also the first MSU sister to take on the role. Several councils were represented; NPC, IFC, NPHC, NALFO and NMGC. While MSU is still young in comparison to many of these organizations, there are best practices we can learn from and tailor to suit the sustainability and the growth of our organization. With a specific focus on Leadership Development, I hope to see more MSU sisters attend the week long Annual Meeting. It is a valuable experience, specifically for board members at each level and active alumnae. With consistent representation, more universities and other organizations will be 2 | Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.

aware of MSU as an organization and one of the founding members of the National Multicultural Greek Council.

a way that will be revolutionary for our organization through these experiences. More sisters need to be involved in the national dialogue on important issues within the fraternal movement, and now is as good a time as any.

I was able to meet many professionals in the field; individuals that work at universities, on the National Boards of I want to keep MSU in the their respective organizations, members of the AFA Planning national conversation... Committee and Executive Board, and seven other awesome Graduate Although as Graduate Staff, many Staff members. It was a fast-paced, of my expenses were covered I busy, and enlightening week to say would not have been able to attend the least. I learned so much from without the assistance of the others’ experiences and involvement National Governing Council of in their organization. Members MSU. More importantly, I would shared their experience with the not have been able to attend had job search in Student Affairs, I not had the opportunity to join specifically for those looking to MSU in the first place. Because of work with Greek Life. AFA, I am, and will always be wellconnected in the Greek community. There were various activities, I am so grateful for the opportunity educational programs, and I got to meet so many amazing networking opportunities, and people, engage in thoughtful “Fireside Chats”. The Chats conversations, network, and learn were timed interactions between of other council/organizational organizations and universities, operations. I want to keep MSU similar to speed dating. The two in the national conversation and could discuss any issues they were hope my sisters will help through having, or expansion opportunities involvement in AFA and other either from the interest of the organizations aimed at similar goals, organization or the university the betterment of Greek Life. seeking to add to their campus. Thank you to MSU and to NGC According to the AFA, The Core for affording me this fabulous Competencies for Excellence in the opportunity and once in a lifetime FSL profession include: Educator, experience. I’m looking forward to Values Aligner, Collaborator, hopefully to seeing some familiar Advisor, Administrator, Researcher, faces and hear some MuuuUUuuuInnovator and Leader. When ing at the 2014 Annual Meeting in applying to be Graduate Staff I December in Nashville, Tennessee. listed educator and leader as the competencies that I felt most Angelica recently accepted her first aligned with – much in the same full - time professional position at way that we aligned with one of the the University of North Carolina at MSU goals more than the other in Chapel Hill as a Community Director our first interviews. I feel we can within the Department of Housing cultivate these competencies in such and Residential Education.


Sister Profile Alumna

Shirain Banner Boétia Chapter Founding Sister Spring 2011

Why did you choose to join Mu Sigma Upsilon? I am originally from New York and I moved to Georgia during high school. That original transition from the North to the South took a long time to get used to and it only got more difficult when I came to Georgia College. While I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Georgia College and all the academic experiences it has given me, unfortunately my school severely lacks diversity. When I first got to Georgia College, like many of my line sisters, I felt like I did not have a place where I could really be myself and I felt very alone. When I learned about MSU and met the T.I.A.R.A. group at that time, I immediately loved what they were about. I had never had any desire to join a sorority prior to learning about MSU, so everything was very new to me. After getting to know the T.I.A.R.A.s and spending time with them, I had gained a new support system away from home that I cherished and appreciated. After all of this, I knew that MSU was for me and that I wanted to be a part of something we could bring to campus that would help increase diversity and give future girls a place where they felt like they belonged.

What significant contributions have you made to your chapter, university, or community? I have contributed to my chapter by continuing to hold various positions and providing support to help my chapter grow and thrive. I have been Secretary, President, and am currently Vice President for our chapter. I also co-chaired our first Greek Seasons event during the Fall of 2012, and since that event, we

have now been asked by Greek Life to host the event every year during Greek Week to promote Greek Unity on our campus. I am proud of my chapter and how much we have grown since Spring 2011 and the difference we have made in our university and community. I hope that the movement we have started at Georgia College is one that will last a long time.

What is your most memorable part about being a sister of MSU? I can’t narrow my most memorable part of being a sister of MSU down to one occasion, but I can say that generally my most memorable experiences have been all the trips I have gone on. From road trips to Florida where we got to visit Founding Mothers, to trips to New York to visit my little, and traveling to North Carolina for our District VII retreat, I love being able to travel and bond with other sisters I normally don’t have the opportunity to see.

What are your goals outside of the organization and how are you working towards them now? I just graduated with my Bachelors of Art in Criminal Justice and Bachelors of Science in Psychology this May and would like to go on to get my Masters in Social Work. For the past year I’ve worked with youth through my internship at Big Brothers Big Sisters and at an Early Headstart Program with children with Autism and behavioral disorders. I would like to continue to work with children and youth and help better the community around me. The Amazonian – Summer 2014 | 3


Jamie Strouse

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Jamie and Foley on Easter Morning 2014


It was January 2013, my son Foley was 26 months old. We sat together in front of his toy box in the living room. He was moving his favorite baseball back and forth in front of his face. No eye contact with me, no words. Just back and forth the ball went as his eyes stared at it with great intensity. “Foley do you want to play baseball?” An agitated “Ahhh!!!” was his only response. Baseball was his absolute favorite activity, surely he wouldn’t want to turn down a quick game with Mommy right? “Come on Foley, lets play...look at Mommy...Foley... FOLEY!!!” Still no eye contact. As a matter of fact my attempts to interact just resulted in him having a meltdown. Foley had been like that all month. This was very uncharacteristic of him. “Oh my goodness, I lost my son!” is how I felt at that moment. It was also at that point I knew in my heart he was on the autism spectrum.

from most other people.” What characterizes autism as a “spectrum disorder” is that the symptoms vary from person to person and range from mild to very severe. While one individual with ASD may be able to lead a completely independent and productive life, another may need constant one on one care and supervision.

Foley received his formal diagnosis a month later by a developmental pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Fortunately, this did not come as a shock. You see, my “mommy gut” told me that my son was developing atypically from the time he was 10 months old. With the guidance of MSU sister, Carolina Velasquez who had worked with Foley through a program entitled Parents as Teachers, I took initiative and contacted my county’s Early Intervention Program soon after he turned one. By the time he was evaluated at CHOP, The truly glorious blessing Foley had been receiving is that the real Foley is so speech and occupational much more beautiful, loving, therapy for a year. During intelligent, and awe-inspiring that time I went through the than anything I could have ever various stages of grief that most parents of special needs imagined... children experience, so by the time the doctor informed my According to the CDC, Autism husband and I that Foley had ASD, Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is “a I was already at the final stage, developmental disability that acceptance. can cause significant social, Since his diagnoses in 2013, Foley, communication and behavioral with the love, help, and support of challenges. There is often nothing treatment providers and family, has about how people with ASD absolutely flourished socially, and look that sets them apart from emotionally. He went from being others, but people with ASD may almost non-verbal to testing within communicate, interact, behave, a normal range for speech, and he and learn in ways that are different is academically talented. While

Foley with his younger sister Cozette

life with Foley and autism has not always been easy, I have developed the insight to see that autism isn’t an enemy to be eliminated or hated. It is a part of who my son is, just like his mixed-race heritage or gender. This has allowed me to view this as a journey and not a struggle. It has also allowed me to love him as he is without yearning for him to be the imaginary child I envisioned before he was born. The truly glorious blessing is that the real Foley is so much more beautiful, loving, intelligent, and awe-inspiring than anything I could have ever imagined and I am so grateful for every aspect of his being, autism and all. Learn more about autism at www.autismspeaks.org

The Amazonian – Summer 2014 | 5


Since joining Mu Sigma Upsilon in 2012 at the Roma Chapter at George Washington University in Washington, DC, Sarah Hillware has been traveling the country advocating for the promotion of health education and women’s empowerment. From being crowned America’s Miss District of Columbia to founding her own non-profit to provide health education to young girls, she has been a true example of being the change she wishes to see. Why did you choose to join Mu Sigma Upsilon? I chose Mu Sigma Upsilon over other Greek organizations because I didn’t feel like I had to fit a mold to be accepted. I have a diverse background, and have always had a set of friends who were different from one another, spoke different languages and came from various socioeconomic statuses. Thus, I did not want to give up those parts of myself for the sake of fitting in. Another reason I was drawn to Mu was because of the unyielding support sisters showed one another. Even while I was a T.I.A.R.A., I saw countless examples that showed me sisters were always there through the ups and downs and life changes. That meant a lot to me. I wanted to know that I wasn’t simply joining an organization that would take all my money in dues every semester and kiss me goodbye at graduation. 6 | Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.

What is your most memorable part about being a sister of MSU? There are so many memorable moments that it’s difficult to pick just one, but I’d have to say that the most special of those moments was the night of my probate. My Officers of Membership, Lizeth Marin and Christelle Saintis, and other sisters I was close to came to practice with me, celebrate and be a part of this day that we worked so hard to achieve. Since I was a solo, it meant a lot that I had support from older sisters and that night, I felt beyond loved and supported. My big, Audrey Augustave, was also instrumental in choreographing my probate, which just made it that much more special. The entire occasion was a team effort and it reminded me that I was a part of something much larger than myself.

Describe the experience of competing for America’s Miss District of Columbia and one of your most memorable experiences after being crowned. The experience competing was much like a training camp, believe it or not. I woke up every morning before sunrise and worked out for 1.5 – 2 hours (then also did the same before bed), practiced my public speaking and interview techniques with mentors and coaches a couple of times per week, studied my platform issue by staying up to date on news articles and journals, and sent countless e-mails and made multiple phone calls to local businesses and individuals soliciting sponsorships. I also had to raise money for charity. Contrary to what many believe, competing in a pageant is hard work!


My most memorable experience after being crowned was actually the day after my coronation. I was doing a photo shoot with my crown and sash near the monuments, and immediately after I slipped on the sash that had my title on it, tourists came up to me asking for photos and treated me as if I were some sort of spectacle. It was really at that moment that I realized the crown and sash had power, that it gave me a platform and that I had the opportunity to make my voice heard.

Tell us about Girls Health Ed. and the journey to found it. Girls Health Ed. is a volunteer community-based organization. We seek to educate girls and young women 8-17 about various

aspects of their overall health and development to help them make empowered decisions throughout their lives by having teaching fellows from relevant fields teach after school seminars in metro area schools and community centers. We’re different from other healthrelated organizations that serve young women because instead focusing on one particular aspect of a healthy lifestyle, we realize that true health comes from equal emphasis on many aspects. Our four modules are nutrition and body image, physical fitness, personal care/hygiene and reproductive health. We use health education to maximize the positive impact that girls and young women are able to have on their communities and empower them to change their lives for the better. A few things actually

led to my starting Girls Health Ed. First, I grew up in an emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive household roughly between the ages of six and twelve. My stepfather was a Vietnam vet who suffered from PTSD and often self-medicated with alcohol. This hostile environment took a toll on my mental health, and there were periods of time where I was overweight, where I had eating disorders, and where I felt very uncomfortable and uneasy about the changes occurring in my body. I was unable to have healthy conversations at home for the most part and my health education courses at school were mediocre at best. Through these experiences, I later realized that there must also be many other girls who were either disempowered about their bodies or who were unable to obtain health information at home. When I was crowned America’s Miss DC during my junior year of undergrad, I made it a point to visit different schools every Friday afternoon to talk to students. I found that even though I was asked to speak on The Amazonian – Summer 2014 | 7


various issues each time, there was always an underlying need for me to discuss health education and self-esteem. It dawned on me that many of these kids were not getting this information from home, from school, or even from their pediatricians, just as I didn’t when I was their age. Many of them also came from low-income households and could not afford to participate in extracurricular and educational activities after school. This ate away at me. I wanted to do more than just talk to these children once and never see them again, so I started my own organization from scratch.

What are your future goals? Warning: I have a lot of goals, but I will try to narrow them down! I want to grow my organization to a point where it is self-sustainable over the next two years and to raise at least $50,000 in donations before the year’s end to support program expansion efforts. Now, I am building my team of teaching fellows, and special directors, am presenting to various schools and

community centers in our five major areas of operation and am working to build relationships with individual donors, corporations and foundations who believe in our program. Taking things day by day is best. It keeps me from becoming overwhelmed. I also want to launch my mobile health app for millennial women by the end of this year. (Twitter: @ SheWinsApp) Currently, my team of three is working on finding a developer, and we’re meeting multiple times per week with potential partners to make this a reality. We, as a team, meet twice per week even though we have full-time obligations outside of our business. Again, we’re taking it day by day and we are consistent in our efforts. In the long term, I am working to build and implement girls health and women’s empowerment programs around the world, with a focus on developing nations.

On my wall, I have a card, which I wrote when I was feeling discouraged, that I glance at everyday. It says, “I am the master of my destiny. Each one of my wildest dreams will come true with patience, perseverance and creativity. Failure will lead to success and fear will turn into growth.” I have a wish that each one of my sisters will remember this and that on your own journey to making your dreams a reality, you will accept failure as a lesson, persevere as if barriers do not exist, and be patient with yourselves. Learn more at www.SarahHillware.com Girls Health Ed. www.girlshealthed.org Twitter & Instagram: @GirlsHealthED www.facebook.com/GirlsHealthEd Click here to watch Sarah’s TEDx talk entitled Teaching Our Girls the Truth.

I want to influence health policy on a national and international level.

Sarah speaking at TEDx United Nations Plaza.

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Women’s Issues

Maude Callen – South Carolina nurse and midwife (Life Magazine, 1951).

Radical Birthwork as an Act of Resistance Ynanna Djehuty I like to open with definitions. The usage of words and knowing the weight they hold is important to all discourse, regardless of whether we are conscious of their weight or not. For this piece, I want to define the key words in its title so I may offer the reader context: The word radical comes from the Latin radix, “root,” as in “going to the origin, to the essentials.” What is birthwork? Normally, it is used to refer to a midwife and/ or doula. The meaning of midwife is “to be with women,” and doulas serve a similar function. I think of birthwork also including the network of grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and other wise women who

offer the deepest emotional support. Without a doula present, that role is organically present in a female companion being with the laboring woman. Resistance (n): from French résistance and Latin resistentia, meaning “organized covert opposition to an occupying or ruling power.” To radically transform our communities, we must start at the foundation of our issues. People of the African Diaspora have not yet been able to properly heal the trauma of enslavement. The oppression is constant, and has been systematically focused on dehumanizing Afro-descendant

people. The destruction of the family unit and suppression of their history is a key factor in how white supremacist patriarchal ideologies have caused so many disparities and chronic disenfranchisement. In particular, the very nucleus of creating family—birth—has been compromised by the medical system through removing midwives and birthworkers from the community. “If we hope to create a non-violent world where kindness replaces fear and hatred, we must begin with how we treat each other at the beginning of life. For that is where our deepest patterns are set. From these roots grows fear and alienation or love and trust.” - Suzanne Arms Midwives play an important role in healthy outcomes for mother and infant. As a woman’s primary The Amazonian – Summer 2014 | 9


health provider, midwives have traditionally cared for all aspects of a woman’s reproductive wellbeing. Many of us are not aware or have been kept unaware that midwives are an option and, in many cases, a much more holistic and compassionate one. In African-American communities, the midwife is one category of healer who survived the Middle Passage. In this country, they were the primary go-to person for both enslaved African women and their white mistresses. They had the knowledge of herbs and traditional healing methods and also mothered the mother. Mama Sarahn Henderson describes the role in her article, “The Cauling of Midwife: A Historical Journey of Midwifery Through the Hands of Midwives of African Descent”:

What has kept our mothers and family structures alive has been the intimate network of support received from grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and wise women from their tribe. The environment around a pregnant women and the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual support she receives sets the stage for her journey into motherhood and the life of her children. Being ripped from our motherlands and having our cultural traditions invaded and forgotten has made our communities hostile environments. A woman of color already suffers from racism, sexism, and economic inequalities; to be a mother in a society that continually dehumanizes her is to struggle with her own inherited and experienced trauma while raising the future generation.

“Midwives of African descent have an origin and a story of her own. A history that is deep rooted in the culture of her ancestors of hundreds of generations from across the waters, which survived the middle passage of slave trading, bringing with them their knowledge of birth and medicinal botanical roots. In many African villages there was not just one particular woman who was known as the Midwife of her village. That is why it is difficult to find an African translation to the word midwife. Birthing was looked on as being women’s work and older women who had given birth before assisted another during labor. Oftentimes it would simply be the birthing woman’s mother or grandmother and other women to help.”

The enslavement was the beginning of the shattering of the family structure. It was common for families to be separated, with parents and children being sold to different plantations and masters. Five hundred years worth of this traumatic separation plus the aftermath of abolition, coupled with incredible amounts of abuse such as regularly being whipped, assaulted, lynched, raped, and castrated, among other horrors, has created a rotten foundation for our contemporary Afro-descendant families. Women of color began to lose the knowledge from their mothers, thus experiencing childbirth in terrible conditions without maternal support. The midwife and birthworker served to address this emergency in her community. To serve and do this work is an integral part of the spirit

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of resistance that African people have passed from generation to generation. The Afro-descendant midwife would regularly visit the pregnant women she served at their homes, teaching them how to properly nourish themselves and how to take care of the coming baby. Midwives would help women prepare for the birth process and assist in the delivery; the midwife and/or her assistant training to be a midwife would then spend about two to three weeks with the mother, helping prepare the food, taking care of the mother, doing the house work, and generally helping her adjust to the new baby. The granny midwife, as many of the midwives at this time were usually mature older women, had remarkably impeccable records of virtually no infant or maternal deaths. In The Archaeology of Mothering: An African-American Midwife’s Tale by Laurie Wilkie, the details of how nurturing the granny midwife role was. It was a service to the community and also that came from experience of the midwives’ own knowledge from rearing her own children. The traditional midwife felt called to respond to the needs of her community. They were primarily trained by apprenticeship with older midwives and would practice as such once they had their own children. In the community, the midwife role was backed by the deep spiritual inclinations of her work and thus, she was regarded in a position of prestige. She would be compensated financially or through an exchange of service; she served


Shafia Monroe, founder of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing

regardless of payment. And yet, this last battalion against the sickness of the dominant white supremacist culture was attacked viciously. Specifically in the United States, the medical establishment began to systematically remove granny midwives from their communities around the 1920s. Doctors were beginning to make a name for themselves through experimentation and practicing on women and, being a capitalist patriarchal institution, medicine needed to remove the competition of holistic practitioners so physicians could control the market. Demanding that lay midwives be licensed, followed by not processing and honoring the applications, was one way doctors began to dwindle the numbers of midwives. They also began to spread lies about granny midwives, demonizing them and making propaganda telling women that they were unclean, ignorant witch doctors. By the 1940s, lay midwives had disappeared from the communities, and birth went from being a natural event to a pathological disease that needed to be managed. Obstetricians

essentially wanted to remove the granny midwives so that they could experiment on women of color in their classrooms and hospitals (From the lecture, “Killing the Medical Self-Help Tradition among African Americans: The Case Of Lay Midwives in North Carolina, 1912 – 1988). Reviving the presence of the midwife and community of supportive women such as doulas, mothers, grandmothers, and related women is a piece of the solution to changing the course of our community’s current reality and future. Organizations such as the International Center for Traditional Childbearing are centered on the necessity of increasing the number of Black midwives, doulas and healers to serve in this precarious situation. Empowering women to trust their bodies and innate wisdom can and will cause a profound transformation in our communities. In conjunction with grassroots movements addressing various issues in our neighborhoods, rebuilding the sacred space around our birthing mothers can lead to a ripple effect that starts at the

very core of our existence. Our connection and nurturance to and from our mothers and family units are sites of remarkable potential for growth and healing. To erase the social injustice is to be in solidarity with giving future generations healthier lives and outcomes. For our communities to rise out of the shackles of imperialism and colonialism, we must engage in a conversation about the most grassroots issue that exists: childbirth and rearing. Our movements would do well to be strung together in solidarity working not only to transform the conditions we have been living and dying in, but to also support the mothers, families, and birthworkers to give light to healthier generations that will break the cycles of oppression. What is a grassroots movement without the seeds? What is our work without an ableminded youth to pass it onto? We must focus on eradicating violence during conception, pregnancy, and childbirth to serve as the foundation for the rest of our social justice work. This article originally appeared on www.thefeministwire.com Learn more at www.thesewatersrundeep.com. Resources Motherwit: An Alabama Midwife’s Story, by Onnie Lee Ogan Unnatural Causes: When the Bough Breaks Miss Margaret (a documentary) W. Eugene Smith’s Photoessay, “Nurse Midwife“ The Amazonian – Summer 2014 | 11


Our Chapters

Mosaic Continued Success The Mosaic Chapter of Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Incorporated was founded on April 25, 1991. Twenty three years ago, twelve strong, independent, and sophisticated women entered the incredible Baby Blue and White world to make a difference at Kean University. Many years later they continue to grow with the foundation and vision the founding sisters had for their campus. Through the years, the Mosaic Chapter has maintained its commitment and dedication

Bodhati Alumnae Support

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to Kean University. Although throughout the years they have faced many challenges on campus, they have emerged stronger through the struggle.

blue world in 2011. With the hard work from both the alumnae and undergraduates they exceeded the requirements of MSU during the previous academic year.

In 2012, Kean University Greek Senate recognized Mu Sigma Upsilon as the best sorority on campus because of their dedication to the campus, community and its students. The chapter also received the Outstanding Contribution to Student Life Award for R.A.C.E., promoting cultural awareness and celebration.

Mosaic has continued to win awards year after year for their contributions to their university and community, continuing their never-ending effort to uphold MSU’s goals.

After being dormant in early 2011, Mu Sigma Upsilon recognized Mosaic in 2012 by awarding the MSU Luminosity Award, distinguishing the achievements of the four undergraduates who had recently crossed into the baby In the fall of 2009, two juniors and four sophomores came together to establish the only multicultural Greek organization at a predominantly white institution. Engulfed by 50 different mainstream Greek organizations, it was the first of its kind in Southwest Virginia. As the Bodhati Chapter grew, despite fighting against

Pictured: FS Yovana Sedano, Tammie Wiles, Joy Talley, Diana Calle, Priya Patel, Darline Tafur, FS Maria Torres, FS Katherine Otero, Priscilla Garcia, Monique Chevalier, Naomi Tisseverasinghe, FS Stacey O’Reggio, FS Andrea Boldin, Jenne Stearns Duran, Karina Pazmino, Giselle Torres, Elizabeth Carreras, Marlenis Liriano, Julissa LaMadrid and Jessica Peralta distances from other MSU chapters and spearheading a different take on Greek life at their campus, it was clear that the role active alumnae played would be crucial to the chapter’s existence. An alumna’s role in the undergraduate chapter is not always clear. Many sisters struggle to find


their place, however Bodhati has worked together to create a place for all active sister input, even after graduation. Currently, there are three active undergraduate sisters on their campus; Diana Buitrago, Rosa Collins and Michelle Noce. During the Spring 2014 semester, the undergraduate sisters have managed to collaborate with many different groups on campus to participate in programs such as: • New River Valley Clothing Drive with the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. • Take Back The Night with the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech • March of Dimes Date Auction for Farmhouse • RIOT MGC Stroll Showcase With Rosa working towards graduation in December and Diana and Michelle as rising seniors, the two alumnae sisters located in

Blacksburg and the Aretias sister who lives 40 minutes from the Virginia Tech campus have stepped in to collaborate and show support to the undergraduate sisters. Jasmine Bryant, a founding sister who graduated in 2012, is currently attending the Virginia-Maryland Regional School of Veterinary Medicine. Jasmine makes it a priority to help the undergraduate sisters with any stepping and/or strolling showcase they may have for the student body, dedicating ample study time to the beloved chapter. Billi Hockman, who spent her last semester as a Graduate Student at Virginia Tech, is consistently active within the chapter. Billi worked with the undergraduate sisters in every event that they have put together, even volunteering to coordinate events or be present at events during crucial recruitment times. Billi managed to work as hard as the undergraduate sisters all while pursuing her Master’s degree and spending time with her husband.

The alumnae sisters outside of Blacksburg have also made themselves available to the undergraduates as needed. Founding sisters Nicole Gomez and Arianna Seabrooks-Matthews as well as Tamara Batres, routinely take the two to four trip to Virginia Tech to show chapter support. Bodhati Alumnae make it a priority to stay involved, whether it be showing up to events, helping to plan events or having general conference calls or Skype meetings to discuss the future of the chapter. The alumnae sisters even provided financial support, each donating towards the chapter fund. Although the undergraduates are ultimately the leaders of their chapter on campus, future success calls for every sister to have the opportunity to lend support wherever her talents and desire lies.

FS Jasmine Bryant, Billi Hockman, Michelle Noce, Rosa Collins, Cheyenne Marshall, Tamara Batres, Diana Buitrago and FS Nicole Gomez

The Amazonian – Summer 2014 | 13


Spring 2014 Graduates

Master’s Degree

Yesenia Armendariz (Yemaya) Maria Noelia De La Cruz (Genesis) Billi Hockman (Bodhati) Davina Lopez (Lazuline) Angelica Matos (Yemaya) Iris Mendez (Freyja) Helena Nakhlah (Genesis) Carolyn O’Neal (Orisha) Esperanza Pacheco (Yemaya)

Bachelor’s Degree Rochelle Alvarado (Kailasa) Vanessa Arvidson (Yemaya) Shirain Banner (Boétia ) Isabel Barajas (Boétia) Lorrie Bertrand (Zarya) Keilan Brinones (Evadne) Jennifer Briones (Aborigena) Melisa Chavez (Destinidas) Karina Cruz (Arikara ) Melany Cruz Rodriguez (Jhansi) Brisa Cully (Xurima) Jennifer Darbouze (Haumea) Toni Diaz (Ākāsa) Amber Dickerson (Freyja) Grace Fernandez (Lazuline) Stephanie Flores (Amazona) Lina Forero (Amazona) Taylor Furman (Emeritus) Maria Gomez (Indigena) Mariana Gonzalez (Kumi) Vanessa Grafals (Siksika)

Eulalia Thomas, Shirain Banner, Karen Paz and Isabel Barajas Stephanie Henriques (Zaona) Ezeleni Herrera (Kumi ) Nicquana Howard (Themiskyra) Rachelle Jeanty (Zarya) Helen Joaquin (Amazona) Shenica Johnson (Dhyani) La Shaé Jones (Hasinai) Martinez Kaitlan (Aborigena) Melissa Limón (Hasinai) Andrea Llivichuzhca (Concordia) Daniella Lomo (Concordia) Nicole Maragh (Haumea) Yessica Martinez (Miakardia) Choya McKee (Hasinai) Laura Mejia-Suarez (Yemaya) Christal Nworjih (Concordia) Molara Obe (Quinquatria) Catalina Ocampo (Zaona) Shana Oken (Themiskyra) Joanna Olivera-Rojas (Mosaic)

ChapterAchievements Aborigena

Amazona

Rutgers University Newark

Rutgers University New Brunswick

Distinguished Service Award

Christine Quiray - Summa Cum Laude,

14 | Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.

Karen Paz (Boétia) Takeiah Perry (Dhyani) Sophie Pierre-Louis (Xurima) Karimah Prescott (Siksika) Christine Quiray (Amazona) Kaiulani Rarangol (Hasinai) Ragena Riley (Matriarca) Blanca Rivas (Matriarca) Nicole Rivera (Haumea) Krystalle Rolle (Kimimela) Cherilynn Sanders (Kimimela) Celeste Small (Kimimela) Andrea Suarez (Indigena) Darline Tafur (Mosaic) Jessica Tafur (Amazona) Eulalia Thomas (Boétia) Charisse Thompson (Kumi) Abigail Tlapa (Matriarca) Yisel Vasquez (Emeritus)

Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, Martha A. Flynn Award


Bodhati Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University Billi Hockman - Virginia Teaching Scholarship

Community Hero Award, Dr. Don C. Sawyer III Community Legacy Award

Indigena

Siksika William Paterson University Vanessa Grafals - Who’s Who Among

New Jersey City University

Students in American Colleges &

Rocio Medoza - National Honor Society of

Universities

Leadership & Success

Karimah Prescott - Phenomenal Woman Award, Women of Vision Award, Who’s

Ionia

Who Among Students in American

East Strousburg University

Universities & Colleges, SGA Lifetime

Adrienne Rodriguez - Order of Omega

Achievement Award, UCGC Woman of

Kimimela

the Year

University of South Florida

Kayla Prins - Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges

Krystalle Rolle - Sigma Alpha Lambda National Leadership and Honors

Norma Rodriguez - Greek Senate Outstanding New Member

Organization, The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi

Lazuline Millersville University Grace Fernandez - Aimee Decker Scholarship

Billi Hockman

Emeritus Ramapo College Mary Mozia - Woman’s Club of Englewood-Sandra and David Bishop

Miakardia

UCGC Programming Excellence Outstanding Social Event Outstanding Pillar of Citizenship Outstanding Chapter of the Year

Yemaya Lehigh University Esperanza Pacheco - Richardson (Jerry)

Bucknell University

Pratt Scholarship, New Jersey Library

Angel Crockett - Black Student Union

Association (NJLA) Scholarship

Certificate of Appreciation Yessica Martinez - Outstanding Sorority Senior

Nursing Scholarship

Evadne Lemoyne College Cristina Robles – Letter of congratulations from Senator John A. DeFrancisco

Gaia Syracuse University Briannne Daniels - Jason Morales Rising Greek Leader Award Fatima Johnson - Ronald E. McNair Scholar Award, East Harlem

Karimah Prescott, Kayla Prins and Vanessa Grafals The Amazonian – Summer 2014 | 15


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Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.

The Amazonian Summer 2014  

The official newsletter of Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.

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