“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare,”
– Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light (1988). (Lorde was a Black lesbian feminist essayist, poet, and activist)
One of my self-preserving acts is gratitude. For years, I’ve begun my day by setting an intention, and ended it reflecting on things I’m grateful for. Sometimes, I’ve had to dig deep, and others the moments of gratitude are so abundant they fill pages of my journal. At this moment and in this season, I am holding such deep gratitude for Black women
For Harrriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Ida B. Wells. For Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Shirley Chisholm. For Septima Clark, Marsha P. Johnson, and Claudette Colvin. For Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz, and Amy Ashwood Garvey. For Mittie Maude, Lena Gordon, and Ella Baker. For Coretta Scott King, Angela Davis, and Nikki Giovani. For Assata Shakur, Michelle Obama, and Maya Angelou. For my grandmothers, aunties, and my beloved mother. And for countless other Black women who have lifted this nation and hoisted us into the next best version of ourselves. Though the work is never complete, I hold supreme gratitude for their labor. They have laid the foundation for myself and others (all of us) to stand upon.
Because there is no Stacey Abrams, Kamala Harris, or any of the 125 other women of color who ran for office without those who came before.
When I reflect on the last four years and this month’s election, it is clear that we are beyond a nation divided. We are a nation in two realities at once. We are actively midwifing a new vision, while hospicing hate and oppression to their rightful graves. On election day just over half the country, 79 million Americans, exercised their vote for our America. (We’re not gonna talk about the other 49% of y’all, that’ll throw this whole letter off). Though too close for comfort, our desires to be a better version of who we are today (regardless of party) won out. I’ll take it!
As we enter this season of thankfulness, reflection, renewal and rest (hopefully) here are some things I’m grateful for this month:
- That my loved ones and my work colleagues are (mostly) well
- That I didn’t have to leave my home with the go-bag I’d packed to seek safety from white supremacists
- That the safehouses I helped stage transformed into places of tenderness and healing
- For the BIPOC women I know who worked polls and pu themselves on the line to vote for the ‘soul of the nation’
- That my son has seen a Black president and now a Black/South Asian VP in his lifetime
- To have a new breath and the chance to release what I’ve been holding since 2016
- That our sector is grappling with its role in advancing democracy
- That philanthropy’s “heavy hitters” are committing funding to racial justice
- That more folks are grappling with the privileges of whiteness and proximity to its perceived advantages, while holding the harm of white supremacy
- For the opportunity to bring a conversation about how we heal from the harm of white supremacy to Centering Justice. I hope you’ll join us tomorrow.
In seeing mine, I hope you’ll make your own gratitude list. And, I offer our deepest hopes for your continued whole-person healthiness. Please stay home and mask up when you must leave. Finally, I pass along this lovely gift I received from an old friend this week.
May this season bring you fresh perspective and renewed hope.