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This Couple Shares What It Means To Be A True Example Of Black Love

"I want us to be a strong example of black love. Not lesbian love, but black love period."

Our First Year

In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? It is this indescribable feeling that takes over your body without warning. The lucky ones get to experience this feeling more than once in their lifetime. Regardless, if this feeling lasted for forever or just for a moment, we will always remember the person who made us feel this way. When you experience love, yes we are physically attracted to that person, but it's deeper than that. Love is about accepting someone for who they are on the inside and wanting to share your life with them.


On June 2, 2019, I was honored to witness two people devote their lives to each other because of that indescribable feeling. I was able to see my sister, Calina Kimbrough, marry the love of her life. As Calina exchanged her vows to the woman that became everything she needed and more, it was a perfect moment to see what true black love looks like and feels like. Before this moment, things actually moved a little faster for my sister and her now-wife, Rennetta Kimbrough.

Calina and Rennetta met at a nightclub six months before they became engaged to be married. Calina spotted Rennetta across the dance floor and knew she wanted to learn more about her. With the power of using her best wing woman, Calina asked her friend to see if Rennetta was single. After they connected and Rennetta walked Calina to her car that night, it was only right for Calina to return the favor by taking her hand in marriage and later walking down the aisle.

Courtesy of Calina and Rennetta

After being married for three years, Calina and Rennetta have created a successful life for themselves and their children. They started a clothing business together called LiXX Clothing and plan to expand this business in order to leave a legacy for their family. When it comes to keeping the love alive, Calina and Rennetta have learned that it is about showing up for one another and working together as a team. Showing up can mean different things to different people, but for Calina and Rennetta, it is about lessening the load for one another and communicating openly and honestly.

Love will always have its ebbs and flows, but when you are able to navigate through it with the person that gave you that feeling, any couple will tell you it's worth it. Calina and Rennetta continue to pour the love they have for each other into their new family. They have been able to set an example and display what love really looks like.

In this installment of xoNecole's "Our First Year", Calina and Rennetta share how love is about supporting each other, navigating through the good and bad, and valuing the importance of family. Here's their story:

How We Met

Netta: We both happened to be at this club called Taste. Calina was looking at me and actually sent her friend over to try and talk to me. I told the friend that if Calina wanted to talk to me, then she had to talk to me (laughs). But then after that, I didn't see her in the club for a little while and I got kind of worried. But she came back to the club and we finally spoke to each other. After that, I walked her to her car and it's been us since then.

Calina: So that night, I was persuaded to go out with my friends. I had no intention of trying to meet someone that night because I was completely fine with being single. It was my first time being at this club and I noticed Netta at the bar with one of her friends. I did ask my friend to go over to Netta and ask her if she was single. When my friend came back with Netta's message, I honestly got nervous. I felt Netta was out of my league so I basically left to walk around to ponder about the situation and to see if Netta would still be there once I got back (laughs). But I came back and Netta actually walked up to me. So we started talking, she walked me to my car, and yes we have not left each other's side since.

"I felt Netta was out of my league so I basically left to walk around to ponder about the situation and to see if Netta would still be there once I got back. But I came back and Netta actually walked up to me. So we started talking, she walked me to my car, and yes we have not left each other's side since."

First Impressions

Calina: So my initial thought when I saw Netta was that I like the way she dresses. I have always been attracted to her style and her confidence. Her confidence exudes from out of nowhere and she doesn't try too hard. After I got to know her and within those first couple of weeks, I thought she was pretty cool. But she was trying to play hard to get and I didn't like that (laughs).

Netta: At first I thought Calina was really shy. But I noticed her stance and that is what initially made me want to approach her. She is ultimately very beautiful. She is very smart and I love this woman.

Favorite Things

Netta: I love Calina's intelligence. I don't think she gives herself enough credit for how smart she is. She's my beauty and my brains.

Calina: I love Netta's passion for family. Family is something that I look for in the people I date because I am very close with my family. Netta is always keeping family first in mind and she makes sure that our home is straight before anything. I truly appreciate and admire that about her.

The Big Day

Calina: One thing I remember about my wedding day was how calm I was. Normally, I have very high anxiety. I am usually overthinking and trying to fix things when I am super anxious. Mind you, on our wedding day, nothing went right (laughs). My favorite part of the wedding was when my dad gave me away to my son and then my son gave me away to Netta. That moment was something I pictured in my head over and over again. The fact that my father was eager to get me down the aisle and then seeing my son being happy to be a part of the wedding is something I hold dear to my heart.

Netta: I remember seeing her at the back of the room before she was going to walk down the aisle. I cried like a baby (laughs). She looked so beautiful. I was definitely nervous and I am usually not a nervous person. But at that moment, when Calina was down the aisle I thought to myself, 'This is it. No take backs!' (laughs).

"I remember seeing her at the back of the room before she was going to walk down the aisle. I cried like a baby. She looked so beautiful."

Courtesy of Calina and Rennetta

The One

Netta: Calina is very different from any other woman I have ever dated. We would have real conversations about anything and I liked that we could do that together. I also felt like Calina was "put away". What I mean is, she wasn't mixed in any of the crowds that I was a part of and that made her sacred to me. I also think she was a saving grace after losing my mother. My mother passed on the 10th and I met Calina on the 10th. Everything just lined up and I just knew she was the one.

Calina: I am very much big into the kids. One thing that she had above other people that I've dated, is that she knows what it means to be a mom. Netta has three daughters and when she mentioned that when we were getting to know each other, that was a green flag for me. But more importantly, I needed to know if Netta knew how to be a parent. There was this moment when my son and I were at Netta's house. My son needed something and my son and her were having this conversation without me. I really needed to see that my son is OK with whomever I bring into my life without me needing to be present. I needed to see that someone is going to care for him the same way I care for him.

Courtship

Calina: I wouldn't say there was a key defining moment for when I knew I wanted to take the next step into marriage. I will say that everything happened so quickly for us. We were dating almost six months before she proposed. But everything that happened within those six months was very pivotal for me. We were able to try different things and see if we could really blend our lives together in the smallest ways. So by the time the proposal happened, even though I wasn't expecting it at all, it was very reassuring to me. Usually I am the one that is ready to take the next step, waiting on the other person to be ready. But this time, it was the other way around.

Netta: I know that we took a trip to Louisville together and I don't know, something happened with us down there. I don't know what she did to me, but that day, I remember telling my sister that it may be time for me to take the next step. We were in the mall and we walked into the jewelry store. Calina spotted her eye on this ring. After she walked out, I dropped money on the ring right then and there. I can't explain what kind of power Calina has over me, but she got me (laughs).

Biggest Fears

Netta: My biggest fear was failing. I have seen so many failed marriages firsthand and that really affected me. I didn't want to fall into that category like everybody else. What has helped me get over that fear is that each year Calina and I prove that we can make it through anything together. Even if we have a disagreement, we always come back and work out our issues.

Calina: My biggest fear was being exposed. I have done very well keeping a wall up for the majority of my life. So being completely vulnerable and open to someone scared me. I thought that I was being open enough with her when we were dating. But in marriage, it is a whole other level. However, when I have slowly opened up to Netta more, she has proven that she is going to love me through it all. She may not agree with everything or accept everything I say initially. But she is willing to work through things with me and be beside me regardless.

"My biggest fear was failing. I have seen so many failed marriages firsthand and that really affected me. I didn't want to fall into that category like everybody else. What has helped me get over that fear is that each year Calina and I prove that we can make it through anything together."

Early Challenges

Calina: I wouldn't say the kids were a challenge, but it ebbed and flowed. I know at one point I'm their favorite person and then the next, I'm not. I think that's just parenting in general (laughs). But for me, those questions like, "Are you going to stay?" or "Are you going to make my mom happy?" were definitely questions we had to work through and I make sure I reassure the kids all the time.

Netta: For me, my challenge was not knowing everything about Calina. There were certain things that I had to find out later about her. It was mainly because I didn't feel prepared to help support her with her struggles or at least learn how to support her. I don't want to say it was because of a lack of communication. But to her point about her fear of exposure. It definitely played a part in the beginning of our marriage.

Courtesy of Calina and Rennetta

Love Lessons

Netta: I want to say communication. If we do not talk to each other, everything goes downhill. It's important for us to talk to each other about if we are in a good mood and especially if we are in a bad mood. That is the biggest thing for me.

Calina: I think an important lesson is to make sure you do not lose yourself in the other person. I have done that plenty of times before and even in my marriage. Netta has definitely been my mirror. She has reminded me that I need to establish who I am outside of being a wife and doing things that make me happy at the end of the day.

"Netta has definitely been my mirror. She has reminded me that I need to establish who I am outside of being a wife and doing things that make me happy at the end of the day."

Showing Love

Calina: I like to show up for Netta by realizing how I can support her. How can I lighten the load for her when she is stressed or when she needs to just take a breath. That is how I like to insert myself. Now Netta would agree that sometimes I don't just lighten the load, I take the whole thing (laughs). But then that's not good, so I am definitely working on that. But yes, just reassuring her that I appreciate her and that I am here to be a true partner/teammate.

Netta: I am very protective of Calina. I always try to make sure that no harm comes to her and take the load off of her as well, when I see her juggling so many things. I also like to make her laugh when I see her in a bad mood. I try to brighten her day the best way I can.

Common Goals

Calina: I would love to say the ultimate goal is til' death do us part. I want us to be a strong example of black love. Not lesbian love, but black love period. I feel like that growing up for me, I was shown the example of what a healthy union looks like. So being the exception of everyone and showing how true love works in a marriage is a good common goal for me.

Netta: I agree with her. But I also want to add that I want us to take our business to another level. I want us to leave a legacy for our children.

For more of Calina and Rennetta, follow them on Instagram @only1_sereniti and @baklikinevaleft.

Featured image courtesy of Calina and Rennetta

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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