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Exclusive: Angela Yee Got The Juice

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Figuratively speaking, Angela Yee serves tea every morning on The Breakfast Club à la her popular radio segment "Rumor Report". Literally speaking, Ms. Yee also proves she's got the juice by serving juices and smoothies at her shop, Juices for Life, in the heart of Brooklyn, New York.

When I first met Angela Yee a few years ago, I was interning at her radio station, and noticed she'd have a green juice for breakfast each and every morning. Fast forward five years later, and who knew that what the female lead of the biggest radio shows in the country was putting into her body, would later lead to what she'd put into her business, and more importantly, what she'd put into Brooklyn.

Recently, I got the chance to catch up with Angela at the Brooklyn spot she called hers. We traded gems and talked about everything from Juices for Life's conceptualization to how she's groomed her hustler mentality over the years. As she placed the finishing touches on my smoothie, she revealed to me some insight into her purpose, "This neighborhood is changing really quickly, and I feel like it's important for us to have businesses in our neighborhoods too. Instead of letting other people come from the outside and put these businesses here and make money off of our environment, we should make that money ourselves. Also, it was what I was putting here. There's a lot of fast food places, there's a lot of liquor stores, things like that. I really wanted to put something that I feel would be positive and beneficial for people, but also be really fun to be at. It's kind of like we made it cool to be healthy!"

Cool and cozy, to be exact.

I scoped the shop as I sipped my "Morning Rush," a peanut butter-based protein drink, and couldn't help but feel like I was in a home away from home. Angela, who partnered with TBC co-host DJ Envy and rapper Styles P back in 2016 to open a location in Brooklyn, confirmed that the cozy feel of the shop is intentional.

However, making sure the shop's aesthetic was as appealing as the drinks are appetizing did not come cheap. "This was my first time opening a business and I realized it was very costly," she said. "This place needed a lot of work done. A lot. Gut renovation type of work. We spent a lot of money just making sure that the place looked incredible. We had a real designer from GUCCI do a wall at our juice bar, you know what I'm saying? And everybody comes and takes pictures in front of that wall."

"I just wanted people to come in and be like, 'I'm so proud of what this juice bar looks like. It's so cool, I just want to hang out here.' All the kids come in, they love it, they run up and down. It's nice and open. It looks like you're at a brownstone in Brooklyn," she continued.

However, decor isn't the only thing important to Angela when it comes to business. Attention to detail is one thing, but intention in business is a different thing altogether. With certain juices labeled under the ailment they provide aid to (e.g. "Hypertension High," "Sore Throat," "Ulcers," etc.), Angela is not just selling juices, she is offering better health immunity and hope to the community. Something she feels is, well, priceless. She shared:

"Purpose and passion in your profession is everything."

"There is nothing better than when you can make money doing something that you're really excited about and that you really enjoy and can see results [from]. When you see people that come into Juices for Life, every day and they're like, 'Oh, this woman in my building has cancer and I've been bringing her juices every day and it's the only thing that makes her feel better.' Things like that are really important to us," Angela revealed as she beamed with joy. "One woman was like, 'I have high blood pressure, and I see you had the juice bar and I came in here, and now my blood pressure is normal.' It's things that make a difference in people's lives. When kids come up to you and say, 'I never thought of owning a business, but now that you have this business here, I feel I can do it too. That's inspirational and it means a lot more than anything."

She also confirmed that it's not her business prerogative to ever have people overpay for a good juice. As a matter of fact, the radio personality added new dimension to the familiar adage of "health is wealth" by affirming to people that they don't have to be wealthy to be healthy. Angela's drinks are not only fresh ("Never frozen, never pureed"), they are also large in serving and start at just $5 a pop. Talk about cost-effective.

Angela is creating her own lane and attaining success by her own means in her own way. However, despite winning in more ways than one, Angela is no overnight success story, nor does she glamorize the grind. She has been very transparent in the past about her own slow-cooked rise to fame. Among her confessions, the media maven has spoken openly in the past about taking a major pay cut when she took her first job in radio.

Having had her share of trial and error when it comes to career and financial woes, Angela has decided to take her efforts in the detox game up another notch by hosting "Wealth Wednesdays," a weekly financial workshop held at Juices for Life that teaches others how to detox from debt too. Not only is health wealth, knowledge is too, and Angela has made it her mission to spread both to her community in abundance.

When it comes to career prosperity, Angela can't stressed that a patient spirit, as well as a proegressive mentality are keys to success. "I tell everybody this, especially the people around me, wherever you're at right now, you have to be thinking about what's next: 'How can I progress in life? What am I going to do that is going to make a difference to the world and also going to make me happy?' But we also have to be patient," she stated.

"Sometimes it takes a while to get to where we want to get to. It could take years. It could take more than 10 years. It could take 20 years - but you just have to be doing things that put you on a path to get there."

Preach.

Yet, even at the top, it's always important to know how to work at the bottom, especially when transitioning from being a top-tier employee to a first-time employer. After all, with barely a handful of folks on staff per shift, Angela's shop is indeed a small business, and she is very clear that, when need be, she is ringing the register, making the juices and "cleaning the bathrooms" too.

All in all, to live a life of purpose appears to be well worth the work to attain it. During our time together at the "brownstone" juice bar, patrons of all ages were sure to stop and greet the lady of the house.

They say 'home is where the heart is,' and Ang hustles with hers. "It's important for you to do more than one thing. Sometimes we get really caught up in our 9 to 5 job that we have every day, and then we're like 'Ok, now I go home and relax!' We've all had jobs when we've woke up in the morning and was like, 'Should I call out?' Nobody wants to feel like that every single day. A lot of people will complain like, 'I hate my job, I hate my boss. I hate my coworkers.' Well then you gotta do something about it!"

"It's one thing to complain about it and make moves, but it's another thing to just complain about it every day and do nothing about it."

"It's really important for you to make sure that you're also set up like, 'What am I going to be doing in the future? Is this where I want to be five years from now? Have I hit a ceiling from where I'm at? Do I feel like I could be happier?' I think life is all about trying to pursue those things that make you happy. There is nothing better than when you have a life that you're passionate about, and things that you enjoy and that are good for your own spirit."

We'll drink to that!

Follow Juices for Life on Instagram and keep up with Angela Yee @angelayee.

Featured image by Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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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Featured image by Shutterstock

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