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.
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.