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Sisters Under the Skin

October 29, 2015

How many of your close friendships have been truly life-changing, have re-shaped the way you think and act, have made you wiser and your life more fulfilling?

That is way more than anyone should expect from a friendship, but is exactly the gift that two Memphis women have given me. They are both African American, while I am Caucasian –  a fact unremarkable by itself, but in racially-torn Memphis is worth mentioning.  A close cross-racial friendship in Memphis is a stitch in an open wound, a strike against divisive politics and ingrained preconceptions. It is also an adventure of discovering how different and yet how alike two people can be, sharing laughter and experiences and points of view, finding a safe place where trust and love can flourish despite all odds.


In 2014, Back in River City posted about a budding new group called Soul Sisters, formed to facilitate intentional one-on-one relationships between Memphis women of different races and ethnicities. I went to the first Soul Sisters event (a tea at Harding Academy) to learn about the group and write about them. I left with a match-up to an amazing woman who has become a dear friend.

Soul Sisters was inspired by the accidental meeting of the Rev. Dr. Earnestine Hunt and Lorie Affatato at a Collierville garage sale 15 years ago. They became fast friends. After Lorie moved to Florida, Earnestine hoped to find someone who would help her launch an organization that would facilitate and encourage cross-racial friendships. She found that someone in Shelby County Commissioner Heidi Shafer. For more on this story, see Back in River City’s original post here.

(l to r) Lorie Affatato, Earnestine Hunt, Heidi Shafer

(l to r) Lorie Affatato, Earnestine Hunt, Heidi Shafer at February 2014 Soul Sisters tea.

soul sisters logoA second Soul Sisters match-up will be held at the Crescent Club, 4:00-7:00 p.m. on Saturday November 14, 2016. Registrants will enjoy a 3-course dinner, meet dynamic women interested in healing Memphis race relations, hear about successful Soul Sister friendships, and be matched to a Soul Sister for their own “intentional friendship.”  There are no rules to follow, but matched Soul Sisters are asked to make a commitment to get together at least once a month for a year to let a relationship take root.

Contact Tammy Gaitor Miller at (901) 830-6088 for more information and to register for the event. But hurry! Registration and payment ($37 covers dinner, tax and gratuity) are due by Sunday, November 1st.  You may also contact Tammy via the Soul Sisters Facebook page or by email at

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