In graduate school, I was invited to join a sister circle. At the time, I had no idea what that was. What resulted was a life long bond with a group of Black women from across the diaspora (Guyana, Dominican Republic, & across the US). We shared our stories and spent hours revealing our inner insecurities. We trusted each other with our deepest regrets, struggles and fears. It was through our sister circle that I learned about sisterhood. There were many tears, hugs and affirmations.

To share your story…To be real with a circle of people you can trust, is one of the best feelings in the world. And I deeply believe that it is through these types of bonds that Black women have been able to survive so many atrocities and still come out with our sanity. Safe spaces in the presence of our sisters, is the place to heal because we know so much of the world seems against us, rushes to judge us, and disregards our truth. It was in these moments that I felt a wholeness that can only be achieved in knowing that these sisters had my back. We could go to each other for anything.


Outside of the sister circle in grad school, I have another circle of friends including sisters I’ve known since I was 12 years old and others I met during freshman year of college.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made or received early morning or late night phone calls during which we’ve vented, came to each other’s rescue, and just served as a much needed listener. Sometimes, just having somebody listen makes all the difference.

Black women’s sisterhood is so strong that the army has actually started studying it. As the army deals with high suicide rates among soldiers, one thing has remained true…Black women still have the lowest rates of suicide in the military even though we all know they face higher rates of discrimination. Yet, we live on. The army wonders what Black women have that other groups don’t.

While the government does not break down military suicides according to race, among the general population African-American women have the lowest suicide rate of any group. Surprisingly, white men die most often by their own hand. “By comparison, the rate for black women was less than three suicides per 100,000.” “The sense of community among themselves, and the … built-in support that they get from each other is something we’re paying a lot of attention to, and trying to find ways to emulate,” Kemp told Government Executive. “I think often that veterans and men don’t have that same sort of personal support, and we have to build that for them.”  – The Grio

The Washington Post covered the power of Sister Circles in their article about a new program called Prime Time Sister Circles.

… Prime Time Sister Circles, a 12-week program focused on helping African American women in midlife improve their nutrition and fitness, and deal with stress. And just as important, participants say, the Sister Circles provides them with emotional and spiritual support akin to a long, tight hug. The circles are kept relatively small: no more than 25 women. Participants include those who make six-figure incomes and others with more modest means. They meet for two hours, once a week over three months and often learn that more things connect than separate them. – Washington Post

Just having the experience of being a part of a sister circle, makes me think about the survival of the generations of women that came before us. The bond between sister friends is a deep aspect of our history. And that is why I believe Black women have become so resilient. Not out of anger but out of emotional bonds that hold us up.

So today, I just want to say thank you to all of my sister friends and our sister circle. Marie, Zakiya, Griselda, Halycon, Anita, Alexandria, Keena, Rodniqua, Patrice, Shari, Rachel, Janine, Candice, Valeria, Nikki, Margo and more.

Love, J.A.M. Aiwuyor

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23 thoughts on “The Power Of Sister Circles And Safe Spaces

  1. This is beautiful! It reminds me of my girlfriends back home. I couldn’t get through half of the things I did without them.

  2. exceptional article Jess. thank you for putting this idea forth.our friendship has been a blessing to me as i hope it has to you. i appreciate the work you do on this site and with your life and light. without my sisterfriends, i dare say i’d be absolutely lost. especially since my family considers me a pariah. i’m a little too different for them.

    i think there is a definite need for women, and especially afrikan women to repair the breakdowns in communication that have left us without strong sisterly bonds that don’t include greek letters. not to say that those bonds don’t have merit, because they most certainly do, but there is something to be said indeed for sisterhood across the board. well written and articulated. bless up.

    1. Thanks Nikki! Your friendship has definitely been a blessing :)I think there is something about the bonds of sisterhood that has enabled Black women to go farther than anyone imagined of us. And at times we forget how we got over, so it’s good to remember all of the sisters that helped us along the way. 🙂

    1. Sure Angela! Feel free to repost. Just put “Originally published on” at the end. If you are using wordpress you can use the “press this button.” Thanks again for reading my post and sharing it with your readers.

  3. I truly enjoyed this read! I used to belong to a Sister ‘s of the Drum Circle and it was literally my only moment of unwinding and bonding, something I didn’t get when playing alone. I really miss that bond and now since I no longer attend I feel as if a part of me is missing. I noticed how different I was as a person when I had my Sistah’s around and I liked myself better then! Thank you so much for sharing this it reaffirmed a lot for me.

    1. Akosua, I’m glad to hear about your sister circle experience. I hope you rejoin the group because it sounds like you had a great experience. Those supportive environments are needed.

  4. A really great article, and something I’ve noticed from the outside. Men don’t have anything like this beyond 1-3 people they share a bond with, if that. And from a young age you are discouraged from sharing too much because it makes you vulnerable. And if you do share too much about your feelings and thoughts you’re called soft, weak, a “mitch”, or less than a man; and that’s by men AND women.

  5. I Love to see unity in any form. I Love to listen/read well articulated perspectives on life. You raised great points and a lot of people can benefit from reading your piece. It’s a very touching, thought provoking, inspirational piece. “Love grows when people connect their five senses to their hearts”….Keep up the great work. “Positivity doesn’t always sell but it keeps our souls from going bankrupt”.


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