Annotated Pearls

The GRIND System

The GRIND System is created by Black Women. The GRIND System is organized into themes synthesized from the lessons we learned as Black Women and from Black Women. 


    In our early notebooks we kept lists of every little thing we were thankful for because we knew it grounded us. We also kept countless notes to and about our familial ancestors that provided wisdom and guidance. We reflected on how the organizing work conducted by Black women helped us shape how we understood the world and how we could use our work to continue the struggle. 

Real Talk

    We spent so much time talking with friends and mentors to help us understand who we were and where we could fit in a larger tapestry of social justice work. We knew that our most powerful motivations directly connected to intersectional facets of our identities and experiences. We also learned the absolute necessity of celebrating every win, especially a win in the face of overwhelming odds and an uncertain future. Honestly, it was in the moments of whimsy and relaxation we found love for ourselves and strength to work towards our mission. 


    Over years we realized that in order to challenge complex systems of injustice it is imperative to be intentional with our strategies and directed energies. We also learned that the best growth came from solid routines that emphasized self care, accountability, and feedback. Intentional self care meant responding to our physical and spiritual needs. Intentional accountability meant forming a partnership with at least one other individual to monitor and support progress on our goals. Intentional feedback meant seeking out people willing to critique and build our work to greater authenticity and influence. Intentionally project planning meant a steady progression through a plan while staying connected to our core objectives. 


As many of you may have experienced, we also encountered many co-conspirators (often other Black women) along the way who pushed us forward with recommendations and sharing resources. We have collections of business cards and scribbled emails in the corners of our notebooks but we always wanted a better way to organize to get the maximum benefit from our connections. 


    As Black women we often thought in terms of the African Diaspora or Caribbean Diaspora because we have strong connections with these communities. A diaspora can be any group of people who, outside of their homeland, have endeavored to create home wherever they find themselves.

Cite Black Women

Before we were PhDs we were just Amber and Maria. Two young Black women who found themselves with the privileges of higher education and opportunities to be as great as we imagined. As children we both felt a calling to social justice informed by our experiences as both Black and Woman. We met in graduate school, still very much children with big ideas and bigger anxieties about how we could ever make the kind of impact we wanted to see in the world. Like all great things, we built ourselves up little by little. We learned how to find our role in the work. We learned to work hard at work that needed to be done. We trained our voices to say what needed to be said. We learned how to recover from stumbles and how to find our way back. We learned to honor our own humanity if we hoped to honor that of others. The journey we took was the most important element to creating the people we wanted to be and doing the kind of work we wanted to do. 

“From each other, to advisors, to mentors, and historical research, Black women were a major source for every lesson, every stage of growth.”

The GRIND Journal is something we daydreamed about in the moments staring down a blank document and a creeping feeling of dread and uselessness. We unwittingly composed the system as we learned to maneuver through the difficulties and celebrate every small win along the way. Our notebooks and journals were our most valuable tools for developing ourselves and our work. And yet, we wished that these tools reflected us, our history, and the work of social justice we were passionate about. We wanted to memorialize all of the strategies that had brought us through and inspired us to greater authenticity in our work for liberation. Through each other, to advisors, mentors, and historical research, Black women were a major source for every lesson, every stage of growth.