Practicing self-care and self-love has become a goal that many people strive to achieve. When we think of self-care, we think of taking a day off from work or treating ourselves to a luxurious spa trip. This year, the Boston College 2020 Women’s Summit framed self-care differently—not as the internal, somewhat passive relaxation we always hear about, but as an action that makes life more successful and fulfilling for ourselves and others.
This year’s keynote speaker—Brittany Packnett—is an activist, writer, educator, and the co-host of Crooked Media’s podcast, Pod Save the People. She was active in the Ferguson Uprising in 2014 and she delivered a powerful Ted Talk in 2019 titled “How to build your confidence—and spark it in others.”
In her keynote speech, Packnett emphasized power. She established that power is present in everything—from wealth to politics to status—and that it wants to be hoarded. But she redefined power, not as something to chase or cling to, but as something that we all possess: “Power is your ability to create reality from revolutionary imagination.” In that case, “self-love is embracing your power,” and “self-care is protecting your power.” Defining these concepts from a leadership and activism standpoint was a fitting start to a summit meant to, “share meaningful conversations and game-changing ideas.”
Following the keynote address, participants attended workshops of their choosing, many of which centered around self-care and self-love. Workshop topics ranged from the intersection of feminism and self-care to intersectional disability culture.
One workshop, titled “Forgiveness as a Form of Self-Care and Self-Love,” instructed attendees that practicing forgiveness towards yourself and others provides peace of mind as well as physical health benefits. Dr. Natana J. DeLong-Bas also pointed out that in situations of intentional harm and trauma, forgiveness might not be deserved, and that people who have experienced trauma may need to seek help to work through that harm before approaching the next steps towards forgiveness. Dr. DeLong-Bas emphasized that women especially are tougher on themselves than they are on other people and that we all must believe we are worthy of the peace of forgiveness.
In the Heights Room, Marina Pastrana Ríos, founder of the Montserrat Coalition and BC ‘08, spoke with Amaka Nnaeto, MCAS ‘20, about her incorporation of social justice into her BC experience and career. While at BC, she noticed the difficulties that low-income students had in accessing the same resources, events, and opportunities that came easily to many other students. She judged the inequity in this system and acted, providing resources like homecoming tickets to low-income students. With her creation of Montserrat, students now have access to some free course materials, enrollment in otherwise costly service programs, and the occasional free meal. Near the end of her speech, she advised BC students to “see, judge, act” to make campus—and the world—more just.
Both the keynote address and mainstage conversations touched on religion. Brittany Packnett and Marina Pastrana Ríos each discussed how their faith has impacted their passions for social justice, delivering a reminder of the Jesuit mission. Pastrana Ríos especially emphasized the idea of discernment and involvement in service trips or clubs in order to foster skills that help students do social justice work. She closed out by restating the importance of community, faith, and re-centering.
After closing remarks from the Women’s Summit planning staff, the FISTS step team and the SLAM! Poetry organization gave stunning performances that used artistic means to encompass the summit's empowerment.
Inspired and uplifted, attendees of the BC 2020 Women’s Summit can bring the messages of self-care and self-love into their daily lives at BC. It is important to evaluate Jesuit ideas in the context of women's empowerment, and the 2020 Women’s Summit certainly brought this essential conversation to center stage.