Brotherhood and Sisterhood: Inside Campus Affinity Spaces for BIPOC Students

Adrian Morrison ’23 and Isaiah Harris ’24, pictured above, are two of the Brotherhood board members.

After a hiatus of nearly two years, the Sisterhood, an affinity space for female and femme-aligned Black, Indigenous, and Latine (BIPOC) students, is being revived, with Nahila Hutchinson ’24, Ashley Agyeman ’24, and Annalisa Urena ’23 as the inaugural board members. Alongside the Sisterhood, the Brotherhood—a similar affinity space for male BIPOC students—has continued to host discussions and meetings throughout the year on topics such as navigating relationships as BIPOC men and other affinity-related activities. The board of the Brotherhood consists of four members: Ben Perez ’23, Adrian Morrison ’23, Isaiah Harris ’24, and Josh Espinoza ’25. 

Ben Perez ’23 spoke to The Phillipian about what motivated him to join and stay in the Brotherhood. As a board member, he appreciates the opportunity to mentor younger students. 

“My Freshman year, the Brotherhood just felt like a place [that] fostered community within the male-identifying students on campus who [identified] as BIPOC…. I got to meet a lot of people who I could look up to, especially as board members themselves, there were people who I feel like I could rely on and I could ask us questions. And overall, it’s just good energy and good vibes when I look to the Brotherhood, and I want to foster that, keep that going,” said Perez. 

Alongside aiming to be a safe space for members, the Brotherhood often hosts discussions, invites speakers, and contributes to campus events. Recently, the Brotherhood has turned its attention towards the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Day, preparing to host workshops for the community and members. 

Nahila Hutchinson ’24 said she felt that unlike AfLatAm, the Black Student Union (BSU), and Alianza Latina—the other affinity spaces on campus for Black or Latine students—the Brotherhood and the Sisterhood aim to fill the gap of gender identity in the context of race. They hope that the groups can provide spaces for people to share the unique experiences that they face in regards to their racial and gender identity. 

“I think Sisterhood is an important affinity space to have, because it’s a different experience that the intersection of gender and race can lead to, it’s a whole different identity on its own. It leads to a different kind of oppression than [what] will be faced by somebody of a different gender or different race. For example, my experience as a Black woman is going to be a lot different than the experience of another Black person or a Black man. I think there’s [a] certain comfort and familiarity that can be found in that space that can’t be found in BSU or Alianza or AfLatAm, for example,” said Hutchinson. 

According to Josh Espinoza ’25, there are unique issues on campus that BIPOC men experience. Espinoza found the Brotherhood to be a safe space to discuss those specific struggles, claiming that the community built in the group is different than the general campus. 

“In my experience, I haven’t really had an open space where I could speak freely. And I’ve had to suppress a lot of issues and just deal with it on my own. But, I feel in the Brotherhood, I can have discussions on, not just my issues, but also other things that I’m curious about with other boys who are sharing my experience as well. So, I think it’s just us as men giving each other that space to build up with each other and support each other on a campus that can be exclusive, [where BIPOC men] are not the focus or we’re not heard enough,” said Espinoza.

Currently, both the Brotherhood and the Sisterhood have two faculty advisors who assist in the clubs’ overall direction and advise the board. Currently, Anny Guerra, Instructor in Spanish, and Lela Paultre, Assistant Director of Admission, serve as the faculty advisors for the Sisterhood. For the Brotherhood, Casey Smith, Instructor in Art, and Hector Membreno-Canales, Director of the Office of Community and Multicultural Development (CaMD), serve as faculty advisors. Neither of the faculty advisors from the Brotherhood nor the Sisterhood were available for comment in time for publication. 

Prior to the pandemic, Sisterhood was facing issues with scheduling and member retention. During the pandemic, Sisterhood completely halted all meetings, leaving the Brotherhood as the only gender-specific BIPOC affinity space remaining.

Recently, however, Sisterhood is undergoing its own revival. Ashley Agyeman ’24 discussed the initiative to restart the affinity space, claiming that it was a product of casual conversations turned into action. 

“Nahila and I were talking with our other friends as well, and we all decided to have a Sisterhood meeting… and that went pretty well, but then Sisterhood was just inactive. We heard Annalisa was trying to get the Sisterhood started, so Nahila, Annalisa, and I worked together to do that,” said Agyeman. 

According to Agyeman, the Brotherhood and the Sisterhood boards have met to discuss avenues for collaboration and places where the Brotherhood could support the Sisterhood’s revival, including potential joint-hosted events.

“We have talked about [collaborating] but no actions were taken [so far],” said Agyeman “We’re building the board right now, but as we have more events and as the board comes together, people will come to Sisterhood more and engage more.”

Editor’s Note: Ashley Agyeman ’24 is a Digital Associate Editor for The Phillipian.