For the first time since graduating from college over 30 years ago, I’m not working full-time. I want to tell you it feels great, liberating, joyous. But I would be lying. Achievement and productivity have been my central organizing principle as far back as I can remember. Without the structure of full-time work, I am having to find my way back to myself, a self that had long been buried in busy-ness.

I keep reading and hearing that Americans are in an existential crisis post-lockdown, quitting jobs to find more purposeful ones. I know that work is not the answer.

Last year, I wrote this widely circulated piece about the collective exhaustion women of color in leadership face as we both navigate white supremacy culture and try to dismantle it. In the year since, we faced new demands created by COVID-19 and the country’s racial reckoning. We became even more critical caregivers — for our democracy, for our organizations, and for our families, friends and neighbors. Women of color are the linchpin of every institution in America, so fundamental that we are taken for granted. Black women in particular, as this piece highlights, get thanks, but little else.

While women…

Believing or not believing Joe Biden has very little to do with him. The context in which some are professing support and “belief” and others are expressing their rage and frustration matters. That context is the patriarchal and racist institutions of which he, and we, are products. That context pushes women to comply and be obedient, and punishes us when we aren’t.

It’s in this context that an undue burden is being placed on women, both white women who prop up the patriarchy in their own self-interest, and women of color, who have worked to make our institutions more equitable…

On Super Tuesday 2020, the year already felt like too much. At the time, Elizabeth Warren was still a contender in the Democratic primary for President and Coronavirus was an abstract concept in a faraway land. Then shit quickly got real. Seattle became the U.S. epicenter for Coronavirus and Warren withdrew from the presidential race. The inevitability of the virus’ spread with Donald Trump steering the ship coincided to create a crisis that has long been brewing in our country. …

Playing by the rules in capitalist America comes at the cost of our mental, physical, and emotional health

A photo of a frustrated black woman sitting at her desk at work.
Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Women of color leaders are guarding a dirty little secret: Our work is eroding our mental, physical, and emotional health. We are slowly wrecking ourselves as we try to transform political organizations, foundations, media rooms, nonprofits, and the publishing industry. In the first few weeks of 2020 alone, every conversation I’ve had with my colleagues revolved around how we’re exhausted and struggling at best, or suffering from a specific illness at worst.

For nearly three decades, I have worked in the nonprofit world, which I thought was focused on justice and love. So have many of my peers. …

Photo credit: Tony Webster

Celebrate, then hate. That’s been the cycle for the most outspoken newly elected Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar — all of them are women of color refusing to be silenced or to do what they are told. Widely celebrated by the media and House Democratic leadership for their record-breaking wins, they are now under constant scrutiny and stand one tweet away from being slapped on the hand and publicly reprimanded.

Neither of the three need an introduction, but as a reminder, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest Congress member and a widely followed social media star whose first…

Last week, as Elizabeth Warren played the race shifting game of claiming Cherokee heritage, Dear Abby warned against owning ‘otherness’ when naming our babies “foreign” names.

Names matter, because they often come with personal narratives, which shape a sense of who we are and influence who we become.

My own name, derived from the Hindi word saya, which means shelter, was given to me because I was born when my family purchased their first home in India. I am my parents’ first-born and my paternal grandparents’ first grandchild. …

It’s been nearly six months since Election Day, and I’ve been through three stages of coping. Here they are …

First, there was powering through. The morning after the election, the work on my plate was just the same as the day before. So I got to work. Managed a team, led my organization through planning our national events in DC, and strategized about how we would show up in the world post-Obama.

Fortunately, the holidays intervened to give us all a reprieve, a moment to breathe before the transition from Barack Obama to Donald Trump.

That’s when my second phase of coping began. Mostly, it involved alternating between days of feeling super strong, when I did yoga, meditated, protested…

My day job for six years has been to recruit people to run for local and state office. So I should be excited about media reports that more people are signing up to run. But I’m not. That’s because not everyone should run for office, and here are three reasons why.

A Network is not a base. Many first-time candidates assume that having a large network means they have a base of voters from which to draw. That’s simply not the case. Often, people who lack recent local roots, who haven’t spent time cultivating relationships, or who don’t have a…

A Five-Step Guide to Running for Office

I often get asked, “Why would I run for office?,” or “I want to run for office. Where do I start?” I welcome both questions and know that more people than ever before are asking them. Here are my answers.

As you consider “why run”, ask yourself:

1) Do I care about the issues affecting my community?

2) Do I believe elected officials should be working on behalf of their constituents?

3) Do I trust myself to fight for my community if elected to office?

If you answered yes to all three, then…

Sayu Bhojwani

Restless citizen. Writer, keynote speaker, TED Alumna. Check out my book People Like Us —

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