February 9, 2024

Celebrating Black History Month with Sisters


Delta Zeta Women's Membership Organization | Delta Zeta Sorority

Member Spotlight: Natalia Stanley, Beta Gamma – University of Louisville (KY) 

Black History Month has been celebrated in February since 1976. As we take time to reflect this month, we had a chance to chat with Natalia Stanley, Beta Gamma – Louisville (KY), about not only her experience as a Delta Zeta, but also about what Black History Month means to her as a Black woman. This year’s theme is to celebrate Black achievements in the arts. Natalia is majoring in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies with a minor in criminal justice and is the President of the Pre-Law Society. She recently created a platform on social media to creatively share the stories of her Black peers to effectively communicate their voices through connection and community. Read on to find out what she wants sisters to know about Black culture, an empowering moment she has had as a Delta Zeta and more! 

  1. What does Black History Month mean to you? 

Black History Month (BHM) holds profound significance for me—an inspiring celebration that embraces the richness of Black culture and acknowledges the inherent excellence within it. It serves as a poignant reminder that the building blocks of American history would be incomplete without the profound contributions of my ancestors. Beyond a mere commemoration, BHM stands as a powerful testament to the resilience and brilliance of Black individuals who transcend the oppressive structures ingrained in the history of the United States. 

This dedicated month is a time for us to actively recognize and elevate Black voices, pushing against the persisting waves of racism and imperialism. It issues a compelling call to action, urging us to champion and uplift those who frequently encounter discrimination within our society. Despite strides made in recent decades, systemic racism continues to cast its shadow over every Black American’s experience. 

Navigating the challenges of being a young Black woman in a predominantly white world has taught me resilience and fortitude. Amidst the obstacles, I have come to view this journey as both a privilege and an opportunity—an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing effort of rectifying generational oppression and dismantling the roots of hatred. As we immerse ourselves in this month, let it serve as a collective reminder of the pride we should all feel in acknowledging the profound impact of Black history on our shared narrative. 

  1. Is there anything you want your Delta Zeta sisters to know about Black culture? 

Something I believe is so important for all people to know is that Black culture is a vibrant and diverse community full of resilience, creativity and collective identity. It is important to know that it is rooted in a rich history. It encompasses countless traditions, art forms, music genres, languages and customs. It is a celebration of strength forged through centuries of adversity, as well as a testament to the profound contributions of Black individuals to global societies. It is important to know that many things in “American culture” stem from Black culture. From the influential sounds of jazz and rap to a wealth of literature and, notably, the pivotal Civil Rights Movement, it is important to know that Black culture’s enduring influence remains a driving force in shaping the ever-evolving narrative of our world. 

  1. How did your Delta Zeta journey begin? 

My Delta Zeta journey began at the University of Louisville. I was hesitant about joining a sorority at first because of some of the stigmas revolving around Greek Life, but after seeing the diverse minds and people at the university, I decided it was the perfect place for me to thrive. In August2021, I was honored to become a member of the Beta Gamma Chapter. I am forever thankful for the relationships and memories I have gained from this chapter thus far. 

  1.  Can you tell us about a pivotal or empowering moment you have had as a member of Delta Zeta? 

This is a tough question because there are so many moments I felt empowered by the incredible women in this chapter. One that sticks with me most is when I launched my Instagram platform @thisisthevoiceofus last summer while interning in NYC. Despite being physically separated from my sisters, their unwavering virtual support was amazing. When I shared the concept with my closest friends, their encouragement was nothing short of unending. @thisisthevoiceofus began with numerous Delta Zetas courageously sharing their inspiring life stories, unveiling the hardships they’ve overcome. Witnessing the overwhelming support, love and inspiration from all my chapters and the bravery of those who shared their personal narratives was profoundly touching. 

  1. Can you tell us about a member who has made an impact on your life?  

One member whose impact on my life surpasses words is Riley Hemmer. Our paths first crossed during my freshman year, and we have remained friends ever since. However, it was only this year, living under the same roof, that Riley and I forged a bond stronger than I could have ever imagined. Riley’s impact on me stems from the authenticity of her character. Regardless of the challenges and barriers she encounters, she remains unwaveringly dedicated to her goals. Having experienced both my lowest and highest moments, Riley consistently stands by my side, offering love and support. Witnessing her numerous accomplishments in the relatively short three years of our acquaintance has profoundly affected me. She inspires me to be a better version of myself each and every day.   

  1.  This year’s theme is celebrating people within the field of the arts. Tell us about your page, @thisisthevoiceus, and how that fits in with celebrating this year’s theme and what it means to you regarding Black History Month! 

As a student at the University of Louisville, I am pursuing a major in Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and a minor in criminal justice. The choice of this academic path stems from the alignment of my passions and values reflected in my major and minor. Throughout my undergraduate career I have used my voice in many ways but my most proud one is the platform @thisisthevoiceofus. 

My story begins as a Black girl growing up in a suburb that lacked racial diversity. I often found myself being the only person of color in many spaces, an experience that I once saw as normal, but brought numerous challenges. 

As shared on my platform, this is my story: I grew up in a place where 5 percent of the 149,000 people in my community are Black American like me. This was something that at an early age seemed normal to me, however, it still came with its challenges. Through elementary school I remember being in classes where I was one of the few Black students or the only one. This continued until I chose where to attend college at age 18. Every room I walk into I notice if I am the only Black person. When I encounter a police officer I have an engraved way I should act in order to stay safe as a minority in this country. Growing up Biracial, I have been able to see both sides of this awful injustice that happens in our world. In my childhood, I heard things like “I’m only your friend because you’re half white,” and I’ve been excluded and judged for being who I am. I learned to see these experiences as a privilege to continue working towards changing generations of deeply rooted oppression and hate. It’s one of the most difficult obstacles I may ever encounter, and I’ve discovered that the leadership needed is demonstrated by others’ actions, not merely by words. Despite this, it begins with the words we speak. It would be simple for me to stand quietly but I’ve come to understand that what matters most is getting up and becoming a leader not just for others around me, but also for myself. I am a Biracial 20-year-old woman, and I am proud of it. 

I am grateful for my upbringing because I choose to view it as a privilege to be able to share my story, especially during a time such as a month. It is important that during BHM, we recognize Black voices and remind each other that we all deserve to feel heard in a world where voices are often silenced. My hope for my platform’s future is to not only continue to reach a wider community but also be a place where stories are shared, read and most of all, shift the way we look at the ones around us. 

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