GRIT: A Reframe & Personal Definition

April 14, 2024

Have you ever met someone who thrives through adversity, transforming their pain into opportunities for growth? These individuals possess grit. In her book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” Angela Duckworth describes how grit separates those who succeed from those who fail. But what exactly is grit?

On a sunny and warm spring day I was sitting in a public place feeling fine. Turns out I was wearing a ball cap embroidered with: “I’ve got GRIT.” A passerby who I knew came over and commented, “You’ve got GRIT.”  That’s when something odd happened. Out of my mouth came the words, No, Girl Rights in Texas. Like a boomerang, my friend smiled, patted me on the shoulder and moved on.

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Only a few times in my experience has this type of spontaneous communication popped out of my mouth with no forethought. I agree with Duckworth’s description that GRIT separates those who succeed and those who don’t. As a fifth-generation Texas with a strong maternal lineage, something is stirred up with me about the current contradictions about women’s rights. My ancestors stood up and claimed those rights 200 years ago. Yet, a fight has been brewing in this state that needs to be confronted head-on.

The upside-down thinking is not only in Texas, yet this is where I live and experience reality! There are a plethora of issues dealing with inequities.

There was a segment of my life when I was naively enveloped in a bubble by an over-protective father. His intentions were authentic, but his parenting taught me how to be dependent on authority. I literally didn’t know how to think for myself and followed the rules. Popping that imaginary bubble took many years of bumping along between church authorities, school board authorities, and even later in the corporate environment. When that bubble burst, I figured out that my thoughts and feelings were different from the rules I had been bound by, I learned to take responsibility for my experiences. Truth-busting became mission. Not knowing what I didn’t know led me to a bountiful exploration of philosophy, culture and science. Freedom to discover became my yellow brick road.

I have lived in many regions of Texas including the panhandle, eastern pine woods, Red River basin and now in the heartland of the hill country. Sometimes it felt like I was in several other countries because the cultural nuances were distinctively different.

It was highly informative to live outside of Texas for 30 years and work internationally. Hearing perspectives from outsiders peeking in with their perceived assumptions was insightful. I found myself both defending and criticizing my own beliefs.

Recently I have focused on a book written by my g-g-grandfather, H.H. McConnell, about his experiences in Texas beginning in 1866. In parallel with my strong matrilineal heritage, I find that things have gone awry. Amnesia leads to despair and hopelessness. Accepting that I know little about the deep history of my home state, I chose a book that I picked from my grandmother’s shelf that I had not read. Harriet Beech Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. Amy McConnell’s edition was reprinted in 1929, the eighteenth reprint. She left handwritten notes on the inside paper cover.

In 1868, Stowe became one of the first editors of Hearth and Home magazine, one of several new publications appealing to women; she departed after a year.[30] Stowe campaigned for the expansion of married women's rights, arguing in 1869 that:[31]

[T]he position of a married woman ... is, in many respects, precisely similar to that of the negro slave. She can make no contract and hold no property; whatever she inherits or earns becomes at that moment the property of her husband ... Though he acquired a fortune through her, or though she earned a fortune through her talents, he is the sole master of it, and she cannot draw a penny ... [I]n the English common law a married woman is nothing at all. She passes out of legal existence.

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According to Daniel R. Vollaro, the goal of the book was to educate Northerners on the realistic horrors of the things that were happening in the South. The other purpose was to try to make people in the South feel more empathetic towards the people they were forcing into slavery.[21] The book's emotional portrayal of the effects of slavery on individuals captured the nation's attention. Stowe showed that slavery touched all of society, beyond the people directly involved as masters, traders and slaves. Her novel added to the debate about abolition and slavery and aroused opposition in the South. Southerners quickly responded with numerous works of what are now called anti-Tom novels, seeking to portray a Southern society and slavery in more positive terms..                                      

  1.  Vollaro, Daniel R. "Lincoln, Stowe, and the 'Little Woman/Great War' Story: The Making, And Breaking, Of A Great American Anecdote". Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 30.1 (2015).

My hope is aroused by acknowledging an elongated timeline. 2024 has demonstrated startling realizations that we as Texans and as women have a need to confront.

My grit is riled up. The starting point is “my health, my right”.

The situation here in Texas is not about adversity. It is about control, power, and greed. Women’s rights include adequate healthcare. Women already did the ‘suffering’ thing to get to ground zero. In the 21st century the expansion of how women are leveraged by authorities is focused on a disgusting trajectory. The thinking is absurd. A vicious circle of inconsistencies that make snake oil something to be anointed upon the population of women akin to the Handmaid’s Tale.

The University of Texas has been upended by Senate Bill 17 prohibiting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies on campus. How can it be that this new law undermines academic freedom and underserved students because a few legislators negatively perceive benefits of DEI.

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