The Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Kappa Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority are co-hosting the second annual Taking Off the Mask: “Care for the Caregiver” event to explore the “strong woman” mask and identify strategies that find a balance between caring for others and improving self-care.
The event, free and open to the public, will take place this Saturday, Dec. 14, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Madison College-Goodman South Campus, 2429 Perry St.
“I think of [the event] as an opportunity to affirm other women,” Azure Fudge-Hart, physical and mental health co-chair of the Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, said. “It’s nice to know how other people are managing their day to day issues.”
Taking off the Mask II was created by the Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, and was the brainchild of Terri Strong, the past president of the chapter. The event was designed to focus on a component of their Physical and Mental Health Committee programming, with emphasis on black women’s mental health.
One of the goals of the event was to “begin breaking down barriers and reducing the stigma associated with seeking help when our mental health is compromised,” according to a statement from the Delta Sigma Theta Alumnae Chapter.
Because Delta Sigma Theta Alumnae Chapter wanted this event to be a space for diverse women to grow and heal together, they wanted to work with another organization that could help see their vision come to fruition. Being that the Alumnae Chapter and the Kappa Alpha Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority are the two most prominent black sororities in Madison, it was “a natural fit to invite” AKA to partner with them, Yolanda Shelton-Morris, the Delta Sigma Theta Alumnae Chapter president said.
“One of our programming for AKA is women’s health,” said Tracy Williams, vice president of the Kappa Psi Omega Chapter of AKA. “Under our current leadership, we have a topic of care for the caregiver and so it was a natural fit for us this year in particular because I think it fits in well with where our community is going, especially for black women in Madison. We are in that sandwich generation, where we’re either caring for a spouse, or caring for parents and children and other relatives. So it’s really important for us to let each other know that beyond the sorority and greek affiliation, we are here to support each other because in general, black women need to be able to rely on each other, so that’s what we wanted to show.”
The event will start with introductions of the organizations and the history of Taking of the Mask. Then, attendees will participate in a series of panels and activities, including one that examines the mask itself. In that activity, participants paint masks the way people see them and then paint masks the way they actually are.
Through this event, Williams hopes to let others know that it is okay to love themselves and to allow others to love them as well.
“We are so excited about this event because it’s so needed,” she said. “It lets people know that they’re not alone. It’s okay to have resources. It’s okay to say ‘I need a break.”
“I hope that we create a space for women to come, share, network and learn from one another,” Shelton-Morris said. “Also, we hope through the panels, we can provide resources and opportunities for learning, growth and access to supportive resources for women as they deal with different issues.”