MAD unites and breaks stereotypes

MAD meets in Jones Hall once a week. Photos by Gunnhildur Baldursdottir / The Jambar

By Gunnhildur Baldursdottir / The Jambar

Stereotyping and misunderstanding are issues many African American women face across the nation. In a supportive and safe environment, Black women and allies at Youngstown State University can join a new student group, Melanin Ambitious Divas.

The club formed at the start of January and meets every week in Jones Hall, often on Monday or Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Adria Ingram, a senior majoring in general studies with a focus on communications and psychology, is a co-founder of MAD, which is in the process of becoming an official student organization.

According to Ingram, the club’s name reclaims a stereotype.

“I’ve always been pitched as an angry Black woman. That’s been a stereotype for Black women since way before my time, and we’re always being called mad,” she said. “I’m always someone who likes to turn one word into an acronym.”

Ingram said the group’s main goals are creating a community, sisterhood and environment where women are understood. She added Black women must support each other because they often feel pressure to be perfect, which can lead to unhealthy comparisons amongst their peers.

“Many African American women talk about the competition we have all the time, and to be frankly honest, I don’t like that. When you unite as one, it’s much more powerful, especially when the world is pitted against us because they want us to fail,” Ingram said. “For us to go against each other while everyone else is going against us is not okay.”

Heavan Anderson, a junior pre-dental hygiene major, is a member of MAD. Anderson said during meetings, the club plays music while doing bonding activities.

“It’s a bonding that really just allows us to get to know each other on a deeper level,” Anderson said.

Anderson said she feels supported by the club as a Black woman majoring in pre-dental hygiene.

“When a lot of people find out what my major is, it’s like a shock because you don’t see a lot of us [African Americans] in that community,” Anderson said. “It has changed over time, but [society] just expects us to be in anything but nursing because they don’t feel like we’re educated or have the willpower and the drive for these big biochem classes.”

Nyla Hafeez, a freshman sociology major, joined the club at the beginning of the semester. Hafeez said the club has become a family away from home, which brings comfort during the college adjustment.

“The meetings give you a relaxing vibe where you can calm down and relax,” Hafeez said. “Even if you’re having a bad day, that’s when I like to go to that meeting. You can talk about today and the stuff that’s going on in the world or on campus.”

Ingram said allies are welcome to meetings.

“[Allies] can help us because it’s important to get our stories out there. It’s also important to educate them so they know what we’ve been through,” Ingram said. “Many people have friends from various backgrounds, but if they never talk about each other’s struggles, those friendships typically won’t last.”

The club plans to host events soon, such as bringing inspiring female speakers to their meetings and throwing Zumba and yoga nights.

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