Patience and Fortitude

Did you know those lions in front of 42nd St library are called Patience and Fortitude? In grad school, I’d walk the few blocks from The Graduate Center and set myself on those steps to eat lunch and read my seminar’s assigned readings. I never knew they had names. Until so many years later, someone told me that finishing a book took both patience and fortitude.

Those words made so much sense as I finished up these two book talks in New York City. This place, a home to the words and ideas in The Labor of Care, often seemed chaotic and unruly. During research, I couldn’t figure out how all the pieces would fit together, if the work would every yield anything important, and even, if I’d get a job after all was said and done. Walking NYC streets and taking trains reminded me of the very visceral sensibilities that first formed the theories in my book.

And although there were times, I didn’t think I’d finish my PhD, much less transform the ideas into a book, it was patience and fortitude, the names of these lions roaring encouraging words to me, that got me to publication and back to New York. But instead of static statues atop a national monument, the roaring lions were the domestic workers whose stories I was telling, the community organizations that deemed the work important enough to invest time and effort, friends, mentors and family who believed I could turn the work into something important. I’m so grateful for them.

Image Description: Crowd standing next to one another with author for a post-event photo. 

Going to New York City to give this book back to those who gave me the responsibility of telling their stories was an absolute gift. Being in the Skylight Room at the Graduate Center talking the book’s ideas over with Premilla Nadasen and Michelle Saulon Luat of MIGRANTE NYC was delightful. We built out the ideas of scholar-activism and the importance of care work in community organizing. We recognized the neoliberal moment/crisis that forces so many families to be separated. And at the end, I felt so honored to have two amazing women, committed to the very same social justice values I hold dear, to discuss the work.

Image Description: Michelle Luat, Valerie Francisco-Menchavez, Premilla Nadasen sit next to each other discussing the book, The Labor of Care. Photo Credit: James Flores

Lastly, it was such a thrill to bring my children and partner, Raul, to NYC for this momentous occasion. We walked to road as a family of four carving out new roads and ways for our families to make sense of the city. Patience and fortitude was needed it that as well!

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