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Updated: Feb 9, 2022

Soooooo ... in case you haven't heard. My last day at Sacramento State as a tenure track professor was last week. It feels surreal to declare publicly that I took an early retirement and am now working solely as the founder/CEO of the Race and Gender Equity Project, coaching & consulting and directing our community programs.

The last couple of years have forced all of us to examine our priorities, and contemplate the relationship we have with work and rest. For me, that meant deeply examining all the areas of my life. I came to a few conclusions:

  • Some areas of my life are out of alignment and I have to cut back on the quantity of things I am doing to focus on the quality of my work and relationships.

  • My family has sacrificed so much for me to go to school and build my career, it is time for me to be more available to them. They tired too y'all.

  • Racial micro aggressions and white supremacy culture are compounding traumas that impact our mental and physical health. They continue to significantly impact mine.

  • Bearing witness to injustice (of our young people or in our communities) is also traumatic.

  • Our excitement about creating a "new normal" quickly gave way to the status quo.

  • We are still in a global pandemic.

  • We need time to individually and collectively grieve, detox, and reset.

  • The only way we can fully dream, imagine and implement transformative change is when we are fully rested.

A bit about my journey

I started my first job at 13 or 14 years old (if you don't count the brief stint I had picking potatoes on my friend's dad's farm when I was about 12). My first real job was at a community pool in Ipswich, Suffolk England. It was the hot spot for youth engagement during the brief English summer. I got fired for giving away free food to hungry youth (ok, they may have been my friends, but still).

My first full-time job was at an Unemployment Office. I was sixteen years old, out of school, and really wanted to make money. I was doing clerical work and I hated every minute of it. I believe that job was one of the things that influenced my decision to move to the US.

After having a baby at seventeen, and working as an undocumented restaurant worker, I pushed through college, and most of my subsequent jobs were internships or work-study positions in my field. I spent the next twenty years inside a variety of governmental systems, building programming, deepening relationships and fighting for justice from the inside. I also went back to school and received my doctorate at the University of San Francisco in International and Multi-cultural Education with an emphasis in Human Rights Education.

I transitioned to Higher Education after graduation, and absolutely love teaching and research. The last few years have been challenging for all of us, especially Black people, Indigenous folks and other people of color. Almost all of the Black women I have talked to express a level of fatigue and exhaustion they struggle to put into words. When we are tired. We must rest. That is what I hope this transition brings me. Not just the opportunity to disconnect, unplug, or cut back, but also the opportunity to engage in the type of rest that breeds creativity and innovation. The type of rest that allows me to dream and reimagine. The type of rest that inspires me to build in new, creative and restful ways.

As I was moving through my career within governmental institutions, I was also accumulating hours towards retirement. This isn't something I thought much about as a young person building a career. The last couple of years I realized how privileged I am.

What's next?

I am taking much of the next month to engage in a 30-day reset. During this time I am not actively seeking new projects, rather, I am dismantling and detoxing. I am consciously letting go of the ways of being that haven't served me well and building new restorative habits that will move me toward healing and transformation.

I have also succumbed to the academic urge to document the process so I can help others ... I know - I know, I am who I am! If you are interested in learning more about how you can implement a reset in your own life, let me know! I will get back to you at the end of the 30 days (I mean).

Finally, I am working very hard to create new routines and set new boundaries. Someone wise once told me "wherever you go - there you are" and I fully realize, a lot of the reason I keep finding myself barreling toward burnout is because I don't set and maintain the necessary boundaries to prioritize my own mental and physical health. I don't say no ... much. I also realize burn out is not an individual phenomena. It is an individual response to the collective and systemic problem of cis-heteropatriarchy, racialized capitalism and white supremacy culture. As a grapple with these complex frames, I am always led to contemplate what can we "do" to pursue freedom and liberation. More specifically, defining what my role is moving forward.

Tap In ...

I'd love to hear more from all of you.

What are some courageous steps you are taking to prioritize self in your own life?

How do we collectively create spaces that create the kind of change necessary to have harmony between work and rest?

What kinds of collaborations do you imagine us building?

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RAGE is closed the week of September 6th, 2021. Here's why ...

In recognition of the need to listen to our bodies and honor our spirits, the Race and Gender Equity Project is closed the week of September 6th, 2021. It is a time for us to reflect and replenish as we move toward the end of the calendar year. We hope to have a week off every season to practice what we preach, claim a more restful rhythm, and engage in the personal practices necessary for self-preservation. These weeks of rest will be in addition to other necessary paid time off.

Image: A Black & white photo of Audre Lorde with the words “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare" (Audre Lorde).

The intersection of work and rest

At the Race and Gender Equity Project, we constantly interrogate the intersection between work and rest. While we recognize the significance and value of our work, we also uplift the importance of taking care of ourselves individually and collectively. This concept is deeply rooted in our core values of anti-racism and healing justice.

"Healing justice acknowledges and addresses the layers and layers of trauma and violence that we have been living with and fighting for generations. And, it asks us to bring collective practices for healing and transformation INTO our work" (Tanuja Jagernauth).

We are not resting up so that we can do more, or re-charging so we can work harder. We are "resting to push back against and dismantle the systems that want us all dead if we are not producing for its wealth" (Tricia Hersey; @TheNapMinistry).

Image: An Instagram picture of a tweet on a black background that reads "It's more than a self care thing. This is political. This is collective justice. We are not resting to do more. We are resting to dismantle and push back against systems that want us all dead if we are not producing for its wealth. I need us to get this.

We also take this time off to push back on some of the work practices that we have adopted that are rooted in racial capitalism and white supremacy culture. This rest is not performative. It is purposeful.

We look forward to continuing to explore the ways we can make our workplace more affirming and intentional. We will continue to take care of each other and take care of ourselves. We will continue to challenge and support you as you do the same.

We would be remiss to enter this brief period of rest without honoring the labor and struggle of Black ancestors. While many people know about the emergence of the United States' national Labor Day as a response to the Pullman Strike, we don't acknowledge enough that after the strike, conditions for the Black Pullman porters didn't change. Black folks of all genders continued to experience traumatic and oppressive conditions and averaged 400 hours of work a month (20 hour days). We uplift the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters as the first Black union and acknowledge their role in collective bargaining (learn more). We also realize the legacy of 8-hour workdays is archaic. Unfortunately during this time of working from home (or living at work), many people are not afforded the opportunity to disconnect from the workplace. Thanks to technological advances, we are often expected to be readily available to respond at a moment's notice. Many of us, especially Black women and girls, unwillingly succumb to racist tropes like Black Superwoman and believe we must work twice as hard to get half as far (Stacey Ault).

If we don't rest, we are robbing ourselves of the capacity to dream, innovate and create. We gently challenge us all to take time to re-imagine, demand, and create more restful and liberatory workplaces.

Finally, the intimate one-on-one work we do with young people is not "work" to us. If you are part of our youth community and need us, text us. If we don't have the capacity, to support you at that time, we will do our best to find someone who will. Thank you for asking us if we have the bandwidth to talk, and for following through as we support you in building an entire team you can reach out to. We don't want to ever be the only person in your network. We have built a village.

Rest well friends.

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Image: Epiphaunye Crystals

In honor of the winter solstice and the great conjunction, we launched our very first RAGE Healing Mini Grant on December 21, 2020. The purpose of the grant was to support young people on their social entrepreneurship/healing journey. We believe youth innovation and creativity can be a difference maker for children and adults throughout our community.

Thanks to unexpected gifts from Black Womxn United and Psychologists for Social Responsibility we planned to fund two grants; after our community stepped in, we were able to sow a seed into the healing business of six young people. Winners were decided by a committee of RAGE youth & student volunteers.

Keep reading to learn more about each of the winners, and most importantly patronize their business and support them on their journeys!

Epiphaunye Crystals

Aunye Scott-Anderson is the founder of Epiphaunye Crystals, a crystal shop that grew from Scott-Anderson’s desire to share her respect for crystal energy, after she made the conscious decision to stop taking pharmaceutical drugs to solve ailments that could be treatable with meditation, crystal healing and intentional breath work. The crystal’s energy is manifested through her designs, created to hug and display the crystal's natural beauty.

Follow Epiphaunye Crystals on Instagram or their website.

Suave Art

Luis Garcia with Suave Art's intentions are to create art for the community in order to inspire youth and showcase a healthy art form of self-expression. Garcia proposes to organize and teach spray paint art classes. Luis has a first hand experience and knowledge of struggles and tough circumstances youth face daily and strives to motivate and provide the tools and resources necessary to self-heal through art.

Follow Suave Art on Instagram.

The Sistaaz Collective

Nyabingha Zianni McDowell’s organization The Sistaaz Collective believes in the healing of Black Women. McDowell incorporates a number of different aspects to her business that hold space for transformation and growth. McDowell believes that revolutionary self care, radical self love, and the diaspora of self discovery are essential to a healthy mental, physical and spiritual state of being. With the money from the grant, McDowell plans to aim to create A Black Woman's Guide to Self, fleshed out in different chapters with real life stories, advice, tools and strategies. Nyabingha also offers one of a kind, handmade jewelry.

Follow The Sistaaz Collective on Instagram or their website.

Sanando Linaje

Lupe Renteria Salome provides personal development coaching and co-creates spaces for young people to recognize and acknowledge the areas for growth and healing to build-self awareness. Renteria Salome envisions a consistent space that serves as a bridge for inter-generational wisdom exchange between elders and youth for transformative healing. Salome is working towards a group coaching cohort in 2021 where she plans to provide stipends to young people committed to self-work and also compensate the elders for sharing their knowledge.

Follow on Instagram or go to her website.

The Original Goddess

Liza Bustillo is a holistic healer aiming to assist and spark others on their self-healing/conscious journey through card readings, reiki sessions and other healing forms. Bustillo aspires to become an Holistic Psychologist and a well-rounded healer.

Follow their Instagram and website.

End Game Clothing

Tazia Bost is the founder and CEO of End Game Clothing. Thier brand was founded on life struggles, meaningful lessons, and a drive to never give up. With a will to change the mindset of others, Bost desires to encourage others to not give up on fulfilling their purpose in life and not lose sight of their personal ambition. She stated in her own words that "although it may be a hoodie to some, it can be a changing force in the mentality of others."

Go to their website.

The RAGE Project thanks every single applicant for sharing their business dreams and visions with us. We are convinced YOUth are what YOUth need. We also encourage you to support these young healing entrepreneurs by shopping in their stores and marketing their services on your own social media sites. Finally, this mini grant made way for the RAGE HEAL Fellowship. A healing, entreprenurism and leadership program for Sacramento's youth social entrepreneurs. To donate to the fellows, or help fund future mini grant winners, please click here.

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