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The Benefits & The Beauty Of Solitude

Inspiration

Why does no one ever tell us about the loneliness of adulting? Who created the manual and why did no one ever receive their copy? I've been navigating the land of Paying Bills & Sh-t for a few years now and it's led me to believe that maybe the manual doesn't exist because it isn't a one size fits all kind of thing.

It's a land that's best chartered alone where you find self, ditch the trends, stop relying on outside influence, and learn to trust yourself to make wiser decisions. I think a big part of surviving adulting is always remaining open to see the beauty of a thing – no matter how much it hurts or how awkward it feels or how weird you look doing it. I have found beauty while toiling the path alone and I do believe that there are gifts in solitude.


The Gift of Self-Awareness

Up until your 25th birthday, if you're anything like me, your life might have looked pretty much the same as all your BFFs. When one of you found a new bomb beauty product, you all found a new bomb beauty product. If one of your friends was really into a certain artist, you were all feeling said artist (or pretended to anyway). You swept your personal dreams and passions to the side lest you be mocked for not following popular opinion. You attended parties you had no interest in being in and I have to pose the question:

What happened to the person you were before they told you who to be?

While on the pursuit of finding self as a young adult, I was able to reintroduce myself as the person I always wanted to be. The person I was before peer pressure took over and removed the quirks and flaws that made me me. I was able to spend all of my time at the bookstore ooh-ing and ah-ing over poetry books by RH. Sin, Rupi Kaur, and Rob Hill Sr. I was even privileged to attend some of their events (alone) and I really enjoyed myself – for the first time in a long time. I wasn't able to spend as much time with my outgoing, extroverted friends but that was okay. I was getting to really know me and as life will teach us, you are the only constant in your life. Might as well get to know her thoroughly and love her fiercely.

The Gift of Becoming Your Best Self

"Elevation requires separation" is a popular adage that I hear time and time again. Whilst finding self, I stumbled into purpose. Questioning my life's work and what I really wanted to give and get out of this lifetime. Adulting can have you soul searching as if you were a real life guest on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. The only problem was, most of the people that I kept close didn't understand why I felt the need to do more. I already had a coveted position as a Law Clerk at the time, checking in at the Immigration Board and local court houses several times a week. They didn't understand that my paycheck and/or status wasn't the end all be all.

They were comfortable with the person they knew and I was feeling hella uncomfortable as life demanded more of me. It's not that the people who know and love you don't want to see you win – it's that they fear who you may become on the journey. They don't want you to become so successful that you forget about them. They don't want you to be too busy to gossip every Friday over some bubbly, like you've done every week since leaving high school. I guess this would be an adequate time to remind you once again that you are the only constant in your life. It's important to be there for the people that are there for you – but you have to remember that this life you're living is for you and your maker.

The Gift of Discernment

After relying on outside opinion for so much of our lives, it can become quite hard for us to learn to trust the voice within. It's always been there though. That time your badass friend Tiffany told you it was a good idea to skip class to go on a double date – you felt it. That little feeling in your gut that had you feeling sick af, partially because you knew mama would crucify you when she found out and partially because you knew it was wrong. Big sister intuition is always there and will never leave you. The great thing about discernment is the more time we spend with her, the stronger she becomes.

Sometimes it's best to turn down the volume on the outside so you can really hear the most important thoughts of your inner self.

Now this chapter of our lives is about making better decisions, knowing who we are and what we really want out of life, and doing things that truly make us happy. I'm pretty sure I saw you raise your hand when asked if you're ready to live your best life. The keyword there is youryour best life.

You've spent long enough making mama happy, feeling pressured to go to this outing and that outing because that's what the rest of the crew wanted to do, and making crappy decisions based on opinions from people who really don't know what the eff they're doing either. I wish I could edit this part out too but there's beauty in the struggle mama.

Cheers to adulting.

Featured image by Shutterstock

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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