Ayana Gibbs On Moving With Intention In Her Career As A Public Speaker & As A Mother


xoNecole's Moms Who Inspire series highlights modern day moms mastering all the tasks on their plate, from day to day responsibilities to ensuring their children are kind, educated and well-rounded human beings. Each mother describes their inspiration, what motherhood means to them, and how they maintain their sense of selves while being the superwoman we all know and love.

Ayana Gibbs is a mom who believes women should continue to be authentically themselves and accomplish the goals they had before becoming a mother.

Ayana was always very curious about people and storytelling, and because of this, she gravitated towards journalism in undergrad, and strategic communications in grad school. She was 22 years old when she became a mother fresh out of college. Like most young black women on a mission, motherhood wasn't part of her plan. Especially since she'd just left a broken relationship. But once she became a mother and rekindled her love for self, she refused to let statistics to cripple her.

Ayana and her daughter Ayo@ayanaiman

Related: He Pursued Her On Twitter, Now She's The Love Of His Life

Ayana believes she set herself free to be a damn good mother, and uses her platform to share her story. Today, the public speaker, certified professional life coach, and chief communications officer helps other women transition through pain and heartache.

As a Mom Who Inspires us by helping other women put their best foot forward, Ayana discusses her life as a mother and how being truly good to her daughter means to be good to herself first.


On her happiest memory as a first-time parent:

Just watching her smile in her sleep. She was unmoved by the troubles of the world or what she did or didn't have, she existed in pure harmony. I loved that, and when I was with her, I experienced the same. There wasn't a moment I would look at her and did not smile.

On the moment in her career that tested her determination:

I was working in higher education as an executive assistant and felt like I had lost my way. It was a field I had no interest in and my time at work extended after hours and before I clocked-in, which had adverse reactions to my health.

At the time, I was determined to find stability financially and provide a home for my child, but I knew staying wasn't an option.

I diligently worked to secure my goals in less than four months and committed to being a full time grad student, while I started my speaking career. I learned you can't always force yourself to exist in all situations and that you have to make a decision before one is made for you.


On how her mother has influenced her parenting style:

I would describe my mother as one word: Interesting. We share a lot in common - we're empaths, charismatic, fiery, new age thinkers, natural chefs, and can light up any room. My mother raised us to be expressive, so free speech and affection were essential to our family dynamic. In many ways, it shaped my ideas of parenthood.

I've continued to express my love and support of my daughter by giving her the tools to empower herself.

My mom allowed me to make my own decisions because she knew what I was capable of and I continue those same tactics. I want my daughter Ayo to know the weight of her decisions and feel confident in decision making, while I guide her to a possible outcome.

On the power of pivoting in your career:

I firmly believe in the power of pivoting, which allows you to be flexible in all situations, even the uncomfortable ones. Learning to pivot allowed me to go seek "my cheese" elsewhere and not be attached to where it used to be. I move with intention. When your account is in negative and it feels like the world is on your shoulders, you need faith to see your way through, while taking action to bring your goals to fruition.


On what a typical day in her household looks like:

On a good day, I'm up by 6 am to work out and take a shower before Ayo wakes up so we can eat breakfast together. She comes out her room and tells me to put on her favorite show while she takes a seat at the table in perfect view of the television. She has cereal, while I enjoy [an] egg white and spinach omelet. We get dressed and head out the door to drop her to school while she asks a million questions. Depending on my workflow, I head to an office or go back home to work until it's time to get her. I ask about her day where she faithfully responds "good," as we head home to unwind. Me catching up on emails, her on the iPad (writing her letters before any shows - issa rule), then dinner whenever I get to it (trying to be better), bath time, and bed by 8:30 pm. Again, on a good day.

On the unexpected life lesson her daughter is teaching her:

I'm an affectionate parent and there's no shortage of "I love you" in my house, however, Ayo is teaching me the power of a hug. Hugs can be healing and necessary for soothing pain. This lesson reminds me to surround myself with people that make me feel safe and seek them out when I need to be uplifted.

Strong women need love too.

On the life advice she'd give her daughter:

I want Ayo to learn from me that action is a prerequisite for greatness. Life can be tough and there will always be uncertainty and the only way to change the narrative is to take control and take action. We always have that choice.


On how she practices self-care:

My ultimate self-care practice includes prayer and meditation, it's the way I release stress while aligning with gratitude.

I make time to be present and get quiet, alone. But sleep is my favorite thing to do when my daughter is not around (laughs).

On the unique ways she shows her daughter she cares:

I become the tickle monster and chase her around the house for tickles. Like me, she can't handle it. It's always fun to laugh it up. I also practice affirmations with Ayo so we repeat these mantras daily. Our favorite ones include: I am love, I am forgiving, I am strong, I am beautiful, I am wise, and I am amazing.

On who inspires her to be a better mother:

Mothers who are innovators inspire me as they embark on new territories in their perspective careers, like, Bozoma Saint John, J.K. Rowling, Wendy Williams, and the countless mamas that I meet in person or see on my timeline that are taking on motherhood on their terms.

For more Ayana, follow her on Instagram. Also be sure to check out her inclusive dialogue chats with Authentic Convos.

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.


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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