Multicultural Graduation 2017

As always, things are wild in my life right now—I had a super busy week, presented a poster at my university’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, and then got horribly ill and missed almost an entire week of classes. More about that in my upcoming June GHDR Review Post, though; this post is about something else that happened in among all of that.

So, at the recommendation of a friend, I was invited to apply to be a student speaker for this year’s PSU Multicultural Graduation. The theme of this year’s graduation event is From Resilience to Revolution, something I definitely feel qualified to speak on. I wrote a speech, recorded myself reading it, and sent in the application, but in the end I wasn’t chosen. The student who was chosen is a brilliant young man doing very important research, and I am as excited for him as I am disappointed not to be chosen. But I decided to share the speech I would have given with all of you. So, without further ado, here it is:

 

I’d like to start by reading a poem I wrote in honor of my mother.

Forever Rising

Work-weary women
stand in the doorways
of sleeping children’s bedrooms
        watching
smiles faint on their lips
pride-full and wondering
    I made this
    with my bare hands
    I cradled this life into being
ain’t that a heck of a thing?

See, our mamas taught us well
these single women working
for our best possible future
        always
looking to tomorrow
where there may yet be nourishment
    bread for hungry mouths
    books for hungry minds
    labour transformed by love
to sustain life.

And we came up
protected by ancestors
these warrior women’s work
        & sacrifice
paved our way towards freedom
so now we come to a place
where we must also take up
this precious mantle
    the latest generation
    preparing to push the next
    towards the mountaintop.

Hello, my name is Tessara Dudley, I am so grateful to be speaking to you tonight. And I want to say this: we made it; because of our parents, our aunties and uncles, our friends, cousins, partners, mentors, our own indomitable spirits, we are here. Tonight, we stand at the end of one road, preparing to embark on a whole new journey. Some of us, myself included, never thought we would reach this moment. This place, this institution, was not meant for us, but we have taken it and made it ours. We have carved out this beautiful space, together. We are making room for justice through our very presence.

For some of us, it’s been a hard road. We’ve been challenged, not by new knowledge and robust intellectual debate, but by the pressures of systemic discrimination and inequity. Some of us have faced microaggressions, struggled to feed ourselves and our families, or experienced loss of health and happiness. It has taken hard work, but we are here celebrating together. Our ability to find and build community is among our greatest strengths.

2 years ago, I didn’t know if I would make it to graduation. After the police violence in Ferguson, I stressed myself sick, swinging between 3 and 13 hours of sleep a night, going and going until I couldn’t anymore. My professors were very understanding, and I got through fall term with Bs, but I spent a month seriously thinking of dropping out. I kept hearing the criticism of academics and academia: we’re too isolated, we don’t do anything to make our communities better, our work isn’t connected to the “real” world. As I saw images of children and disabled people being tear-gassed, it became harder and harder to feel like my work here mattered. I had a deep internal crisis that year. Two things kept me going: the love of my family and friends, and the amazing, affirming support of my professors. Without my professors in Black Studies and the advocacy of the Disability Resource Center, I wouldn’t be on this stage today and, again, I’m so thankful for the collective work that has gotten me here.

Together, we have persevered, and we are not conquered. But is survival enough? What of those who could not be here tonight to cross this stage and be honored by this loving community? What of those who follow us? We are resilient, but there’s more to life than pushing through adversity. How do we build on the work of those who came before us? How do we push our communities into creating a truly equitable society? How do we live our authentic truths in a world that tells people who look like us they have no worth?

We have built a vibrant, inclusive community, but we need to keep pressing outward. There are so many people who want to be here and are prevented by institutional barriers. Racism, gender bias, disablism, classism, documentation requirements, and other barriers keep out students who could benefit from post-secondary education, students who could use that education to benefit their communities, and whose experiences and perspectives would greatly benefit this university. Instead of scarcity, we can adopt an attitude of abundance: our accomplishments are not diminished by the expansion of this space, but are instead enhanced.

If I had left back in 2014, I know I wouldn’t be on the path I’m on now. I wouldn’t have been able to take the history class that busted my world open, and I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to spend a wonderful semester at the University of Ghana, and I wouldn’t have been chosen for this year’s McNair Scholar cohort. I wouldn’t now be preparing to go to grad school, or following my dream of becoming a teacher and researcher. Without the strength and courage I found through this community, I wouldn’t be whole.

No matter where we go after this night, it is time to take this same spirit into our workplaces, our community organizations, and our future academic departments. Wherever we go, we can bring revolutionary insight and bold action. We can press the edges further and further outwards. We can enlarge the circle to make room for the voices being left out.

To revolutionize the world, we cannot let fear stand in our way. Change is hard, and sometimes it’s scary, but as Audre Lorde said, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Being afraid and doing what must be done anyway is the bravest act of all.

None of us are free until we are all free. Our communities are not whole until we all are present, able to be our whole selves and build the future together.

Thank you.

School Organization, Part 1: Bullet Journal + Passion Planner = Yes

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, and I may receive a commission for purchases made through Amazon links in this post.

Hello, friends! Can you believe January’s already half gone? It’s weird to me, since Portland has been half-buried under snow for over a week. I was running all over getting ready for winter term to begin, and then I ended up stranded at home, waiting for the snow to melt. Portland doesn’t know how to deal with snow, so we ground unceremoniously to a halt about a week ago, and haven’t quite recovered yet.

Half of my classes were cancelled last week, but I’ve been working to get things off the ground and get myself organized for a successful term. I’ve got a new Leuchtturm1917 dot grid notebook + my Passion Planner, and with the two together, I’m ready to get on top of my life and my school work, so I can rule this term. These aren’t the only tools I use to keep on top of my work and my grades, but I’m saving “the Binder” to talk about in February. For this post, I’m gonna focus on the daily life stuff. Because I have ADHD, organization is something I can struggle with, and I’ve been working hard to build better habits for the past couple of years. I want to share how I stay organized and hear your favorite tips and tools!

 

First up: the schedule. This was the first week of classes:

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My planner, the week of January 8th

Classes were cancelled on Wednesday and Thursday, and had a late start Monday and Friday. I used  that extra free time to get started on the reading, and get my planner and papers in order. (I also  took my bestie to see Hidden Figures—so worth it— and, before getting snowed in, went to see my mom.) My planner currently has my class schedule and other obligations written in, and I’ve got a color coding system in place already. (I’m using the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens, which come in a handy carrying case, and I just keep them with my planner.) As the term goes along, I’ll use the focus boxes above each day to highlight the most important tasks, as well as take notes in the blank area below and prioritize life tasks in the to-do section.

I love the Passion Planner, because this sort of thing is built in. You set goals, set deadlines, and then there are places to slot those goals and their deadlines in where they need to go. Each week also includes a little gratitude box, inspirational quote, and mindfulness exercise, which feels really nice. I opted this year for the half-size planner, and I’m not sure I like it as much—I might need the room that the bigger planner has! But I’ve got ultra fine-point pens, so it may work out alright. The upside of the small size is that I can throw this into my purse on days I’m not taking a backpack out with me.

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The health and habit tracker, printed and pasted into my notebook

Now for the notebook! My bullet journal—bujo for short— is in a Leuchtturm1917 dot grid notebook in the A5 size. (If you don’t have any idea what a bullet journal is, here’s a link to the website that explains it all.) I use the multi-color Fineliners to make fun and creative spreads, but I also often default to a plain black pen, and that’s usually a Pilot G2 ultra fine point. I also cut and paste things in, when hand drawing something would be too tedious.

I created this habit and symptom tracker in excel, and I check it periodically throughout the day to record various things. The categories listed are either symptoms, healthy or unhealthy habits, or goals. It’s a good record for my own reference when talking with doctors and counsellors, and having it helps me be more mindful of my emotions and body. The spreadsheet includes separate sheets for each month of the year, with an extra sheet included for February during leap years. Click the link above or the picture to go to dropbox and download the file for your own use—feel free to edit it to suit your own needs!

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A 20 month spread for getting to grad school in 2018

This spread is the 20 month eagle eye view of the work I need to do to get from the middle of senior year (right now) to attending a graduate history program in autumn of 2018. It’s sparse now, but I’ll fill it in more in the next 6 months.

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A list of snack and meal ideas for when I don’t know what to eat

One of my worst habits is forgetting to eat when I’m feeling stressed out. Add that to all of my food sensitivities and allergies, and I can fall really easily into the “there’s nothing to eat in the house!” trap, and go out for food or buy carb-heavy snacks at the corner store. I made a spread with easy gluten-free and diabetic friendly snack and meal ideas that I can check out when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. Having lists with these kinds of foods will help me make better choices for myself and keep my body well.

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My Daily Log—the to-do list that keeps me on track day-to-day

On a day-to-day basis, the Daily Log of the bujo system helps keep me on track. Using this, I can track everything I need to do in a day in one place. It’s flexible enough for any purpose—from writing down reminders to noting down scheduled activities to brain-dumping whatever’s bugging me, I use the daily log for so many things. I have a key set up in the first page of the journal—stars indicate tasks to prioritize, for instance—and make the next day’s list shortly before bed time. The planner helps me keep track of future stuff, but the daily log is what I use the most, checking in with it several times a day. This thing runs my life, and is partially responsible for any productivity I achieve. It feels really satisfying to check stuff off my list as it gets done.

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A tool I use for prioritizing tasks on a deadline

This one is a prioritization tool, for when I can’t seem to pick out what to work on first. When I’m struggling to keep on track, I use this one: the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, attributed to President Eisenhower. Every task I need to get done is measured on two factors, importance and urgency, and then placed accordingly into one of four quadrants, labelled “Urgent & Important,” “Urgent But Not Important,” “Important But Not Urgent,” and “Not Important & Not Urgent” respectively. I used to use an app on my laptop for this, but now I generally prefer to do it in my notebook, since I don’t always have my laptop with me. I use this one most often on the weekends, when my time is less regimented by external structures (no classes), but I still need to make sure certain things get done. Chores, fun tasks, boring tasks—if it needs to get done, I think about how each of the factors applies to it, and write it in the chart wherever it belongs. This can really help combat overwhelm and give me a place to start, which I sometimes need help with because of my ADHD.

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A two page spread to doodle around some of my favorite lines from the Hamilton musical

And sometimes I just need to scribble. The plus side of a notebook is that I always have the option to just draw some doodles, practice my hand-lettering, and make a fun and inspiring message for myself. I can write poetry, journal, vent—whatever I want. It’s my notebook, and it becomes a record of my life as I fill it up with notes, lists, pictures, and so on. This quote is to remind me that I’m where I need to be, and that taking longer to complete my degree doesn’t mean anything about my worth. This June will be the 10th anniversary of my high school graduation, and I’m battling self esteem issues over how long it’s taking to get my bachelor’s degree. This quote says taking lomger is okay, that taking longer means I’m more ready and mature and experienced than I might otberwise be, and that may help me succeed in grad school.

So, there you have it: my BuJo + Planner system for staying on top of the things I need to do to succeed at school, managing my physical and mental health, and planning my future. The follow-up post next month will cover the schoolwork-specific binder system I started using last January and talk about how it’s helped me stay on top of things and pull in all A’s and B’s in the last 3 terms. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about how you stay organized—leave a comment and let me know!

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#BoycottBlackFriday By Supporting Marginalized Communities

The holiday season is hard for a lot of folks. With the recent push to #BoycottBlackFriday, I wanted to provide a list of places folks can spend their money and know the funds go directly to supporting marginalized communities. Some of these are fundraisers, and some are small, individually-run businesses that could use a boost this holiday season. These are all queer and trans, Black, Indigenous and people of color, sick and disabled, or otherwise marginalized people. Some don’t have family support. Some have children to support. Some struggle to work due to health issues. All of them need help.

I am asking in the spirit of community wellness and loving kindness: if you have the funds, please donate to these people and groups. rather than spend money this holiday season at the mega-corporations, make a conscious, ethical choice to support people from marginalized communities who don’t have the same resources. Your support could save someone’s life. It could enable them to eat, to stay housed, to get necessary medical care

Charities and organizations are at the end of the list, with individuals at the top.

Individuals

Aaminah Shakur: “I am an Indigenous/Black Queer Crip artist/poet/culture critic and full time student in an art history program whose work is about challenging the canon and bringing forward the lives/work of forgotten Queer & Crip POC artists.”
Shop: mkt.com/shakur-arts
Paypal: paypal.me/shakurarts

Sumayyah Talibah is a brilliant writer and artist, whose work has appeared in several anthologies, including Mourning Glory Publishing’s After Ferguson, in Solidarity. Buy a handmade, one of a kind piece of jewelry for yourself or someone you love this holiday season, and support her work!
Shop: sumayyahsaidso.com/shop
Paypal: paypal.me/sumayyahsaidso

Noemi Martinez, “a chronically ill Queer Chicanx single mama of crip children.”
Website: www.hermanaresist.com
Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/catrinacreations

Mallory: help a disabled woman and her children stay housed and away from their abuser.
GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/malloryandkids

Jaden: “I’m a newly disabled/chronically ill TQPOC who recently was denied for disability. Really struggling to pay for groceries, medicine, and other bills. I’m not currently able to work.”
Blog: www.chronicillnesschronicling.tumblr.com
Cash.me: cash.me/$surviveandthrive

Chaz Vitale, “artist, activist, magic-maker,” is seeking funds for a vital and life-changing surgery.
GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/chazs-surgery-fund
Paypal: www.paypal.me/ChazVitale

Olivia M: “I’m a queer disabled mixed Latina, and here’s where I sell my zines (mostly perzines).
Etsy: etsy.com/shop/ParadoxNowCreations

Chloe Viening-Butler is a disabled artist and poet, heavily involved in disability activism.
Shop: https://squareup.com/store/viening-butler-studio

Alex Dehoff is queer & chronically ill. They run Ms. Andry’s Bath House, a feminist bath and body company! (They have a great line of fragrance free products, too!)
Shop: www.msandry.com/
Fragrance free: www.msandry.com/product-category/fragrance-free/

Elizabeth Adams makes metal and enamel jewelry and art.
Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/nightshaderosestudio

Allison: “Allison means so much to me. She is a wonderful fat trans lesbian who I have had the pleasure of getting to know this year. Living in the south as a disabled fat trans woman she is VERY isolated bc of these intersections. She deserves support.”
GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/allisonsgoal

 

Charities and Organizations

Sogorea Te’ Land Trust is an organization dedicated to the return of lands in the San Francisco Bay Area to the stewardship of the Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone indigenous peoples. It is an indigenous women-led effort: “guided by the belief that land is the foundation that can bring us together, Sogorea Te calls on us all to heal from the legacies of colonialism and genocide, to remember different ways of living, and to do the work that our ancestors and future generations are calling us to do.”
Website: sogoreate-landtrust.com/how-to-contribute/
Paypal email: sogoreate-landtrust@gmail.com

Daughters Rising: “I work for a preventative anti-sex trafficking/women’s empowerment project for Burmese refugee/ indigenous girls here in Thailand. We need funding for college scholarships and small business start-up grants.”
Website: daughtersrising.org/

Oogachaga: “Singapore’s *only* community-based (not sanctioned by Queerphobic government) LGBT counselling center might close due to funding cuts.” Donate to stop that from happening!
Generosity fundraiser: www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/support-us-supporting-singapore-s-lgbtq-community

Standing Rock: support the water protectors defending their land and sacred sites from the Dakota Access Pipeline, who are facing violence from pipeline workers, security, and police, while camping outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures.
Website: sacredstonecamp.org/donate/

The QTPOC Mental Health Fecebook page has been a resource for queer and trans folks of color for a over a year, and now they’re fundraising to create a website to host a searchable database of resources and articles to serve this historically unserved/underserved population, and provide even more resources than they already do.
YouCaring: www.youcaring.com/lgbtqiapeopleofcolorstrugglingwithmentalhealth-689882
Facebook: www.facebook.com/QTPOCsupport/