Sisterhood Celebration Provides Reflections on “Normal Never Was”

Sisterhood Celebration 2021

This year’s Sisterhood Celebration, broadcast virtually on Feb. 22, 2021 on YouTube Premiere, brought together nearly 250 members of the campus community to celebrate the achievements of women at NC State while also acknowledging the challenges and hardships of the past year. The celebration was sponsored by the Council on the Status of Women and the Women’s Center. 

The theme of the 36th annual Sisterhood Celebration was “Normal Never Was,” based on the writings of poet, activist and author Sonya Renee Taylor, who spoke at NC State before the pandemic.

We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was never normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, My friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature,” wrote Taylor. 

Instead of a featured keynote speaker, the Sisterhood Celebration planning committee sought out voices from the community to share their stories, speak to the Taylor quote, and provide a place to start as we rethink normal in a shared space.

Selected speakers for the evening were Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, an associate professor in the Department of Agriculture and Human Sciences; Angelle Abatte, a student in the College of Veterinary Medicine; and angela gay-aundre, director of the African American Cultural Center. Each shared moving personal stories and spoke to how the realities of the past year and prior have impacted them. 

The event also featured the announcement of this year’s Equity for Women Award nominees and recipients. The annual awards recognize faculty, staff and students for their outstanding leadership in establishing equity for women at NC State.

Recipients of the awards this year were Jill Sexton in the faculty category, Joanay Tann in the student category, Perusi Benson in the graduate student category and the Women and Minority Engineering Program (WMEP) in the staff category. The latter was an unusual nomination for a group instead of an individual but an important one nonetheless, as the WMEP actively works to increase the number of minorities and women entering and graduating from the College of Engineering.

Anne Burke, chair-elect of the Council on the Status of Women closed the event and emphasized the importance of representation and diversity in positions of leadership and called for action.

“Collectively, we need to keep pressing our leaders and ourselves to make change where our systems and structures promote inequity and depression,” says Burke.

Jenna Nabors (she/her) is a fourth-year student majoring in communication with minors in international studies, journalism and English and a Park Scholar. Share your thoughts about this article on Twitter at @NCStateOIED.