Building Our Own Table: K Strohl (They/Them)

Learn more about the founder of Absolutely Not!

Hello friends,

I’ve been following K Strohl for a while now. Their posts on mental health are always enlightening and pull no punches. I also like the way they are unapologetic in calling out what’s wrong and asking for what they need. That’s one reason why they were recently featured in my top voices list for 2022. Please meet K…

K, tell me briefly about your background prior to founding Absolutely Not!

Before starting my own space I was an HR Business Partner and long before that I was an Aviation Mechanic. In any space I worked, I advocated for my communities and myself. In 2018 I decided to take my life after internalizing the behavior of an unsafe workplace. I never want anyone to get to that point and it has led me to the work that I do today.

Give me the elevator pitch for Absolutely Not!

Absolutely Not! is a weekly live podcast dedicated to providing examples of setting personal boundaries at work and the vocabulary needed to name harm in those spaces.

And in more detail?

I created this space because on my mental health journey I realized most of these spaces were dominated by White women. I found very little spaces where racism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia or White supremacy in any form were noted as detriments to mental health. I grew weary of shouting at people who had no idea what I was talking about and built a space where others could shout with me and where those who haven't begun shouting yet could learn how to from people who know what it is.

What inequity were you trying to redress/address, and why is this important?

I want more people to see mental health specifically boundaries from different lenses. It is unjust that I am unable to set a physical boundary around my hair in the workplace without being made to believe I am more angry than my other co-workers. These messages over time weigh on us. I do this work so we can stop wearing the weight, demand others to put the weight back on themselves in order to change and equip others to do the same.

How’s it going? What has the response been?

It's been 👀... I'm playing. In the beginning it was a lot of people from my communities telling me to quiet down. They projected a lot of fears on me and I am so glad I was able to see them for what they were. Now it’s a lot of people taking what they need from the space and I'm really grateful.

What’s next? Anything interesting happening in the near future? Any goals you're hoping to achieve?

I honestly don't know. I am growing and so is the space. I'm doing a lot more public speaking and writing. I just hope to be able to reach people in time. I am tired of seeing people die.

In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?  

Wow, I think my vision for the future looks like less surface level conversations on racism. Like I'm tired of Becky and 'em crying over this "profound revelation" that racism exists. I want us to move onto to 202 already; 101 been in session for centuries. Yes, racism exists full stop. Now what are we going to do?

Is there anything I haven't asked you that you'd like to add?

This dope ass community of creators who would rather build tables than pull up chairs at some old White man's table, is the future! No one is going back to that bullshit!

Thanks, K! I’d love to hear what stood out for you in this interview.

Please check out K’s work on their website, LinkedIn and Instagram.

© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2022. All Rights Reserved.

Background image courtesy of Getty Images - Colors Hunter - Chasseur de Couleurs

I am an anti-racism writer, educator and activist, Co-Founder of Mission Equality the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast.

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