I spent yesterday going through a series of emotions. First, I thought there was no way that I was going to strike. I’m a broke grad student, I’m scraping for every penny I can get. I also felt like this day of taking off work was designed for privileged white women, who can afford to do so.
I read all the think-pieces about the women’s strike I could get my hands on. To my surprise, my opinions on the matter were challenged. These pieces made me see some of the other points about who should strike, why they should or would strike, and the different ways to participate.
Although I do think there is some privilege to deciding to take the day off work, I’m reminded of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was so meticulously and beautifully organized that folks did not miss a ride to where they needed to be. I was also reminded that reflecting on what one is striking is crucial, especially because I felt that I still participated in the strike. It was just in a manner that was not taken at face value, unlike if I had taken the day off of work.
I’ve been incredibly sick lately. The stress and pressure of grad school, the awful grey mid-western winter months, family and friend emergencies, and my lack of emotional and physical self-care have sent me into a whirlwind the past few months. Although I could not take the day off work, I woke up and set an intention for myself to spend the day honoring the remarkable women that have raised me, influenced me, and pushed me to become my best self. Additionally, I decided that I was going to spend the day doing things that are truly in my best interest.
I had a wonderful conversation with a professor who inspires me and learned that he has great faith in my academic track and future career as a JD/MSW injustice slayer (he doesn’t know that’s my self-proclaimed professional title). I talked to my loving mom, who is a superhero and believes in me like absolutely no one else I’ve ever known. One of my closest friends in school watched over me as I put my head down and napped in the middle of the School of Social Work because that’s just what I needed to feel better. I read poems by women of color – Rupi Kaur, Ntzoke Shange, and others. I made food for myself to nourish my body and ensure that as I’m trying to recover, I have something healthy to accommodate my ridiculous schedule. I sat in solidarity and studied with other wonderful women of color who fight every day to get through an educational program that was clearly not designed for us. In many ways, I tried to be a little nicer to myself as I continue this hard-as-hell educational journey so that I can be a knowledgeable and fierce advocate in the fight for liberation.
My strike didn’t look like many others, but I did in fact strike. I took some time to honor my physical and spiritual self, the friendships and spirits of the women going through this grad school process with me, as well as the women who love and have sacrificed for me across generations. I carry the energy and resilience of my fierce ancestors with me always, and it is an act of protest to remember and embody that in times of hardship.