F*** It. I’ll Do It: Interrupting the Narrative
The following is a speech adapted from our F*** It, I’ll Do It: A Celebration of Cincinnati’s Black Women event on February 22. Check out all of the stories on video here.
My name is Jasmine Coaston-Foree and I currently serve as director of ally development and program manager at Public Allies Cincinnati. Our mission is to create a just and equitable society and the leadership to sustain it. I am also an alum, and I credit this program with providing me a safe space to begin the journey of self-awareness both personally and professionally.
Before I can really talk about myself, I have to give honor to and speak the name of a woman of color who instilled in me confidence, courage, and the ideal that the greatest women need to know how to curse the best. It is because of her and in her footsteps that I am able to say with fervor, “F*** it. I’ll do it.” My grandmother Hilda Coaston raised me and taught me about who I was through lessons about my ancestors and the women who had come before me. Because of that, from a young age I was able to look at people and situations a little differently.
As an adult, I went into the education field. There were many moments where I said, “F*** it. I’ll do it,” like having to be real clear with an org who professed to be about investing in girls, but whose actions left the girls who looked like me out in the cold. I had to be intentional about standing up for girls who didn’t have a voice in that space and advocate for programming and materials that reflected them, their lives, and their beauty.
Many times as an after school coordinator, “F*** it. I’ll do it” meant interrupting the usual narrative. When I had a group of third grade girls who prided themselves on being mean girls, it meant bringing them together in a sister circle; showing them the beauty and worth in themselves and one another; and teaching them how to build and sustain friendships with one another that could last lifetimes.
During one of our sessions, one of the girls came up to me and said, “Ms. Jazz, today I wanted to fight that little girl you know I don’t like, but I knew we’d just have to come talk about it and apologize in the sister circle, so I just told her to leave me alone.”
It also looked like not giving up on kids identified as problem children by teachers and administration. “F*** it. I’ll do it” meant having the hard conversations with these students on a level they could understand, not denying them attention because they required so much, and asking them about their whys instead of silencing them based on their behaviors.
For me, “F*** it. I’ll do it” has less to do with just frustration and more to do with having the keen ability to recognize situations and systems that are consistently leaving certain voices out, and the courage to stand up and make your voice heard.
“F*** it. I’ll do it” for me has also meant speaking up when it was uncomfortable, acting when it wasn’t convenient.
This is not something that is only reserved for professional situations. My life has been full of “F*** it. I’ll do it” moments, like when I had to advocate for my son at a school that wanted to label him and write him off because they didn’t want to take the time to understand him. It has meant being intentional about prioritizing self-love, mental health, and self-care, because in a society where my rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were not even considered, I see my ability to thrive authentically as an act of revolution. So “F*** it. I’ll do it” means participating in black joy with my family and friends in a very real way and teaching my children how important it is for them to not only learn and know their history, but how important it is to also envision themselves in and prepare for the future where they will play an important part.
In conclusion, “F*** it. I’ll do it” is a lifestyle of knowing what needs to be done and doing it. There is no mystery; no one has to train you; it is something we all can and should decide to add to our toolbox, making sure that we can show up for ourselves, as ourselves, and change the f***ing world!