The Support and Care of Carefree Black Girls
St. Lawrence’s student club is stepping up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want to let people know this is for you, not just for us. This is for everyone,” says Sealina Marryshow ’22, president of Carefree Black Girls, a student club that was established in 2016 to provide a safe space for women of color to feel supported in the St. Lawrence community.
“A lot of our members come from different urban environments,” says Marryshow, “and there are a lot of international students who haven’t experienced a predominantly white, remote setting before. When we come to St. Lawrence, we are not familiar with how to navigate these spaces.” Marryshow says that it is important that the club be seen as a resource, as she says, “a space to have the conversations that students may need and want to have.”
Marryshow, a government major from Brooklyn, New York, acknowledges that the words “Black girls” may be intimidating to some because they might think the club is limited to only Black women.
“It’s not,” she explains. “It’s a club for women of color and allies as well.” While the club has a range of goals, from self-development to mental health and learning how to express oneself on campus and beyond, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a shift in the club’s conversations and focus. Marryshow explains that, due to COVID, the school has seen a decline in active club participation across campus, particularly in underclassmen.
“This semester, we did a little rebranding, and we have been focused predominantly on mental health,” says Marryshow. “With COVID, we weren’t allowed to participate in our clubs actively for a good two years. A lot of people didn’t have that space that they needed to talk about what was going on.” The club changed that and has worked with Morolake Odetoyinbo, one of St. Lawrence’s licensed psychologists in the Diana B. Torrey ’82 Health and Counseling Center, to facilitate discussions on mental health.
“With our health center, they do what they can, but they are often overbooked,” says Marryshow, “and until students can access those resources, we need to be the resource for them.” The club has hosted self-care discussions asking members to share what they are and aren’t doing to take care of their mental health.
Carefree Black Girls has also had multiple events and activities to tackle student stress. One example was a plate-breaking event in which participants wrote down their stressors on ceramic plates and smashed their plates while affirming their power and agency.
“We also have destress days where we don’t talk about anything unless someone wants to … just having the presence of other members and knowing you are supported or you have someone in your corner if you need it,” says Marryshow.
“Before COVID, we had an array of members,” says Marryshow, who acknowledges there is more work and recovery to do. “But now, a lot of our older members left, and that diverse setting hasn’t really been seen as much.” For Marryshow and the members of Carefree Black Girls, now is the time to remind students that there is a welcoming space where they can come together, learn, grow, and be supported—whoever they are.