A leader I respect, Tawanna Black, stood boldly in her brilliance and declared that leaders of social change need to DEMAND RADICAL SELF CARE. That's philanthropy-speak for "we gotta take care of ourselves". I will be 40 this year. I have two beautiful children. One is a daughter diva who gives me life and takes my sleep. The other is a devastatingly handsome and emotionally attuned son. I have a committed tenured professor-friend-lover-husband who fights for me and our family. I have sisters, and framily (friends + family), and degrees, and accolades, and the one thing I am missing these days is good health.
If you are a friend or a loyal follower of Shared Roots, you may remember that switching to the Nuva Ring triggered blood clots in my lungs that could have killed me. Shortly thereafter I learned of a class action law suit where other women experienced similar challenges. My body has continued to have an adverse reaction to chemicals, and I was hospitalized on January 29th.
I won't bore you with the details, but these chemical reactions in my body are occurring more frequently and with more intense side effects. My family and I were frightened, but everyone pitched in. My sisters helped me relax. My parents drove in to help watch the kids. My aunt and uncle came over and helped us laugh and reminisce of simpler times. My best friends called me incessantly to check on me. It took a village of people surrounding me with love to remind me yet again that although I am strong and have broad shoulders, I should not lift it all by myself.
I am a phenomenal woman. I bend, but I do not break. So if you think that I'm going to stop the fight just because the road got rocky, I suggest you refer to TI's You Don't Know Me. But I'm also at my core a problem solver and (in my best Doris Jean Robinson voice) a Duke University electrical engineering and computer science double major with an MBA from Harvard Business School. These degrees don't define me, but maybe they will make you pause before you judge, you label, or you dismiss. Or maybe they won't. Either way, I identify with a message my friend, Gerald Chertavian, once shared about himself- "I am a fanatic. You can't change my mind, and I won't change the subject."
I am a fanatic about OUR country. We all want to be the land of the free and we ARE the home of the brave. Many of my family members served in the military, and my brother died protecting our freedom. I am a fanatic about OUR circumstances. We can no longer ignore the effect that disparities have on our ability to achieve economic prosperity. And I am a fanatic about hope. Above all else, what you BELIEVE you are is often infinitely more important than any other challenge or circumstance you may face.
I plan on the long term fight like my 97 year old grandmother pictured above who was in the internment camps in World War II. She married a dark skinned man from Guyana. She birthed five beautifully human and heroic children. They each gave birth to generations of all hues from multiple countries. And she has a steely spine, a golden heart, and a piercing intellect. So if you are concerned or confused the next time you encounter me, know this. My first 40 years were frenetic because I had so much to prove for the many who supported me along the way. But the next 40+ years is about my children and theirs.