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6 Reasons The Black Love Summit Should Be On Your To-Do List

From sex to submission, faith and finances, to dating, parenting, marriage, and money…no topic was off limits.

Love & Relationships

For the last few years, and since day one, my husband and I have watched and admired OWN'S Black Love series (#BlackLoveDoc). I even have a "black love" cut-out plastered on my vision board. Hence, it was exhilarating and exciting to attend the Black Love Summit (presented by BlackLove.com), and we are even more excited about season three, which will premiere Saturday, August 10 on OWN.

The creators of Black LoveTommy and Codie Oliver – and their team hosted the summit in Atlanta, Georgia on July 20 at the Mason Fine Arts Gallery (the first one was held in LA last year). The atmosphere was so optimistic, enthusiastic, and supportive. It was as if everybody in the room was not only "rooting for everybody black," but for love as well.

Just like the hit series, the Black Love Summit painted a beautiful picture of love, dating, and marriage, directly from the eyes of the artists, and without any filters…raw and uncut. From sex to submission, faith and finances, to dating, parenting, marriage, and money…no topic was off limits.

Men and women -- single, married, dating, and divorced -- filled the gallery, wall to wall. Attendees anxiously and enthusiastically collected nuggets of wisdom from a variety of couples (and singles) including: LeToya Luckett and Tommicus Walker, Erica and Warryn Campbell, Dondre Whitfield (Queen Sugar), Devale Ellis, Egypt Sherrod and DJ Fadelf, Terrence J, Kevin (Kevonstage) and Melissa Fredericks, Karli and Ben Raymond, and many more.

Why Black Love?

Like many of us, Tommy and Codie didn't have a lot of examples of marriage to look to. Not to mention, the fact that society and the media often create false and negative images about love, especially black love. Nevertheless, they were determined to help change the story by allowing others to share their stories. Through these stories and experiences, they (and many of us alike) have learned, and are learning, how to navigate and make marriage work.

Despite the overwhelming response and success of the series, Tommy and Codie couldn't have imagined seeing Black Love go from the screen to the Summit:

"We needed the advice. We knew we weren't the only ones. So, we were like 'someone's going to appreciate this. We couldn't have envisioned it, but at the same time we were like 'oh, we were right. People wanted to see it.' So, it feels amazing and I'm really grateful that it has resonated."

Here are a few reasons why you don't want to miss the next Black Love Summit (and season three of the series)*:

1. It’s real.

On social media, most of the time we only see the positive marriage highlights. However, the show and the summit pulls back the curtain on marriage. You're able to hear and bear witness to candid conversations about what it really takes to make love and marriage work.

Erica and Warryn

"You come to marriage with a lot of preconceived notions. When you first get married, you don't know really know how to be married when you get married. You have to figure some things out, and we were committed to figuring it out."

2. It's relatable. 

Celebrity or not, it was easy to connect and relate to many of the experiences and lessons that were shared by the couples. There was always at least one or a few couples that reminded my husband and I of our relationship.

Dondre

"It's very difficult to be what you don't see. If you're not around husbands who are good husbands, then being a husband is going to be a struggle for you. So what you want to do is find a community of men who are dedicated to being husbands and talk to them about what that entails."

3. It's relevant. 

By hearing different perspectives and experiences from a variety of couples, you quickly realize that everyone does what works best for them, and you, too, have to do the same.

Karli and Ben

"It takes time to become one. It's a learning of someone day to day. Set your own boundaries and figure out what works for you."

4. It's revealing. 

Although at times uncomfortable, the necessary truths revealed by the couples in turn help reveal a lot of truths within ourselves…both as a couple as well as individuals.

Egypt and DJ

"As women, we can manifest the lives that we want. We can talk the destiny into our lives. But how are you going to be with the man that God designed for you if you're not even the woman that you need to be? I went to therapy to better myself and to work on myself."

5. It’s restorative.

It's the therapy session you didn't know you needed, because one person's triumph over a difficult situation can initiate the healing process for someone else. A perfect example was when after LeToya explained how her parent's divorce influenced her relationships with men, Terrence J was enlightened and he shared:

"It's incredible how deep that cuts. As you're talking about that, I'm thinking about my dad and how I only know three things about my biological dad. I realize it is an emotional thing and a vicious cycle, but I don't want to damage a woman like my dad did."

6. It’s reassuring.

The mere fact that we were surrounded by a community of black couples -- the creators, the panelists, and the attendees -- was powerful, encouraging, and inspiring alone. It's a testament to the fact that black love isn't a trend; it's a commitment built to last.

Tommy and Letoya

"With us being married, being a young black couple, we felt it was necessary to put our story out there to give people hope. So many people may feel like 'I don't know if it's going to work, or I don't know if I'm good enough for this man or woman.' But to see the struggles that we went through before we met, before we got together, then how we got to this place now, it was necessary to tell it."

*Responses edited and condensed for clarity.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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