We’re holding space this week for the pain and rage many of us are feeling for the continued state-sanctioned murder of Black and brown folks in the US. For the senseless violence of mass shootings, once again worsening just as we slowly start to emerge from lockdowns. And for the global medical apartheid driving COVID-19 spikes as patents and corporate greed deny vaccine access to vast swaths of the globe.
In the face of all this, and of a higher ed ecosystem that seems to insist “this is fine,” I’ve picked up on a variety of individual and collective calls these past few weeks to “hold on.” Both to hold tight to little joys and things near and dear, and to slow down. This doesn’t fix the big problems, of course. But nor does it embrace a toxic-positivity notion of “everything will be alright.” It actually says, “since everything will probably never really be OK, what can I identify that is good or right, however small it might seem, and cling tightly to it? What strength, solace, hope, and comfort can it offer me, and maybe to others as well?” So this week, I ask myself alongside you all: how can we resist constant pressure from the world—and from higher ed—to just keep soldiering on, in order to create space for ourselves to take a breath and actually hold on to what is good?
I wish you all that space, that breath, that holding. I’m holding on to gratitude for this community.
—Brian for the VFC
This week in feelings
Many of you are also calling for slowness and holding:
I'm taking my wins where I can, even if they are miniscule.
I don’t understand why we can’t just collectively refuse the grind. It’s a systemic issue, but we can choose not to perpetuate it.
it's so hard to remember what self care looks like beyond just survival
there are these moments when i can be grateful, or calm, or placed, and from that gratefulness or calmness or placedness, other things flow: i send a text, i can do the dishes, i can smile. they feel brief. amidst my brain fog, loneliness, and self-judgment, i feel a bit of determination this morning to start with gratitude. from there i can hold everything painful without collapsing.
So many deadlines, so little recognition for work!
My institution canceled spring break in favor of single break days throughout the semester and it's been a resounding failure.
nyu grad workers also say “hold on!”
with the support of 96.4% of members, nyu gsoc has set a strike deadline of april 26. solidarity with them and with grad workers everywhere.
Having authorized a strike, it is now up to NYU to determine the next stage of negotiations. In 2015, GSOC authorized a strike, with 95 percent of the rank-and-file members voting yes, before NYU caved with a number of contract concessions. This time around, NYU seems intent to impose its austerity measures in the wake of the pandemic, and is equally unrelenting in its willful disregard for the violent police practices that pervade campus. The 1,336 graduate workers who have expressed their readiness to strike is evidence of the immense hardship graduate workers are facing, but also of the power our bargaining unit has built over the past five years through the tireless efforts of graduate organizers struggling to improve the lives of members. read their guest post on left voice
what might an academic slowdown look like?
the vfc’s hannah alpert-abrams recently posed this question on twitter. check out the thread and responses
On Friday, I attended a discussion with Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb about her book Epidemic Empire: Colonialism, Terror, and Contagion, 1817–2020. It was hosted by NYU’s Postcolonial, Race, and Diaspora Studies Colloquium.
It was a wonderful event: Raza Kolb was absolutely brilliant and I can’t wait to finish reading her timely study. In addition to the compelling conversation about her book, I was equally struck by her openness and vulnerability, and her willingness to speak directly and frankly to grad students.
One moment has really stuck with me. Raza Kolb shared about the toll it took on her to work on a collection of largely “ugly objects.” She then explained how including in her book a literary work she cared deeply about not only gave her a “treat” to look forward to at the end (another piece of sage advice she offered to early-career folks); it also offered her argument and her project the energy and meaning they needed. She held onto that cherished object and it made all the difference.
I’m not sure if a recording of this event will be posted publicly, but you can check out other discussions of her book, including this one with Gauri Viswanathan for Harvard Book Store, and an interview Raza Kolb did last year with The Revealer.
news from the vfc
interested in contributing to the vfc’s advocacy work for international students? join our meeting this coming tuesday 4/20, 10-11am edt.
join us for the vfc’s end-of semester tarot reading. friday 4/30, 5:00-6:30pm edt.
email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for zoom info for either of these gatherings, and/or to get in touch about anything else.
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