I have never had the courage to just walk off of a job. I have wanted to, many times. But, I never had the economic ability (or guts) to do so. Beyond the monetary constraints, there was this lingering concern about being blackballed, blacklisted, and otherwise blackified for not conforming to the respectability politics of the workplace. I behaved as completely politically correct as possible to keep food on my table and a roof over my family’s head. I just didn’t end up having much to show for it.
Jenn M. Jackson
I recently added a new name to my list of inspirational writers: Janet Mock. Her best-selling memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More, is a beautiful—at times bumpy—journey through girlhood. Reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston’s iconic Their Eyes Were Watching God, it is a touching story of self-realization and self-love.
For many it was Mock’s early 2014 interview on CNN with Piers Morgan that drew attention to this young woman’s story. But she is so much more than one interview. Mock publicly proclaimed her identity as a transgender woman in 2011. She has continued working in her community to advocate for women and girls like herself. She has commanded a social media presence through the #GirlsLikeUs hashtag, encouraging transgender women to live freely.
After her many successful years as a staff editor at People.com, writing and advocacy have continued to be her main motivation. Most important, Mock has challenged us all to question our perceptions of challenges facing transgender girls and women of color. She spoke with The Root about her work and how words empower isolated communities.
Read the full Q&A style interview at The Root.
As I sit here gazing at my newborn son, I can’t help but reflect on my experiences in parenting over the years. Having given birth to three beautiful children, I have spent almost three of my seven years in corporate America pregnant. It hasn’t been easy. It has been extremely difficult. But with Congress recently introducing the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act—mandating paid leave insurance for workers— it seems our political leadership may be taking these struggles more seriously.
A placement counselor once mentioned to me that the automobile company I was interested in would want “foot soldiers” as opposed to people who were interested in starting families. I then imagined myself wearing Army fatigues in a sea of cubicles tucking and rolling over to the printer station. No, I was not a “foot soldier” if that was the criterion. When that company made me an offer, it was one I definitely could refuse. I was married and I believed I had the right to start a family whenever I wanted. Who were they to tell me I wasn’t “soldier” enough?
After suffering a miscarriage that year, I unexpectedly became pregnant again. I had already interviewed at several companies and not working simply wasn’t an option for me. So, I started my first job in an industry that I thought would be the perfect fit for an expectant mother. I trudged around attempting to look normal for three weeks until I had no choice but to tell them I was three months pregnant. I could sense the disappointment from pretty much everyone.