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Christina Bright On Being A 420 Mom & The Importance Of Living Your Own Best Life

Motherhood

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.

Christina Bright was in the end of her junior year when she found out she was pregnant with her son.


She was in her college dorm room, it was right before her 21st birthday, and she was gearing up for a study abroad semester in Costa Rica. It was the last thing she thought would happen, but she was thrilled to be pregnant and bring a new life into this world. It was one of the easiest decisions she ever made. "My parents were teenagers when they had me, and they gave me a chance at life," she shared with xoNecole. "I felt like I owed it to my child, even if it meant sacrificing everything… or whispers on campus and being the 'pregnant girl.' I was and still am very proud of my decision."

Boss Mom Nation

She finished her degree and began life in the corporate world almost immediately. But it didn't take her long to realize that corporate life wasn't for her. These days, Christina is a self-described "Free-form Creative" (or as she also likes to say, she does "dope sh*t" for a living). For the last five years, the creative entrepreneur has been involved in modeling, acting, designing, shooting, creative directing, and writing. She does so all while sharing the whirlwind journey on social media, inspiring her followers that seem to grow by the day with her sunniness, her tell it like it is realness, and her wit.

Christina shares what makes her a Mom Who Inspires below:

On how she chose her career:

I was really unhappy living the corporate life I was programmed to believe would fulfill me. At 24, I knew for sure that that life was not for me.

I knew the most important thing was that my son deserved a happy mother.

So I went on a quest to learn about who I am… and what brings my life meaning. That answer is creating and sharing. My favorite part about being a creative entrepreneur is the freedom and the flexibility. I love transparently showing my journey on social media because I can see and feel the transformation of people who know they can because I am doing "it."

On her battles with depression and self-doubt:

I dealt with depression over this period of my life. There were moments where I was really uninspired and those moments made me question if the decisions I was making were right. They also made me have to dig within myself and find who I am, find what moves me, and acknowledge my fears and insecurities. I learned to ask for help. I learned to be accountable. I learned that therapy in a necessity not a luxury! All in all, I've accepted that at each moment - even in the darkness - I am where I am supposed to be. Surrendering to that fact has made everything so much more enjoyable.

On what motherhood means to her:

To me, motherhood means being in a constant evaluation of yourself. I question myself a lot. Not in a wavering sense, but in the sense of making certain that I'm sure about my beliefs.

I'm always cognizant that I am molding the mind and heart of an innocent human being.

It's a huge responsibility. It's my responsibility to be the best self that my consciousness permits.

On her happiest memory as a first-time parent:

One time, I was really low on cash. I probably had about $15 to my name. My son was riding in the backseat of my car in his car seat and we reached a red light. There was a homeless man asking for change. I usually always give them money. This time, I hesitated (I may have had like 2 or 3 singles on me). At the last minute, I rolled my window down and gave the man the $3. When I pulled off, my son Justin said, "That's the mommy I love." He was maybe 5. I literally burst into tears.

It showed me that he pays attention, that I'm molding him to be selfless, and as bad as I felt before that moment, that I was actually doing something right.

On one of the scariest things about being a parent:

Raising a black boy in America is scary.

As he gets older, and taller, and more mature, I fear sometimes the things he will have to go through. I talk to him, he understands America, and the type of culture we live in. Just making him understand how to work through his temper, and communicate helps me….but it's just a scary position to be in.

On the mantra she tells her son:

You can be whatever you want to be in life. I say this to him all the time.

On the unexpected lesson her son is teaching her:

My son is teaching me how to be less abrasive with my tone! He's really sensitive, especially when it comes to me. There are times when I say something, and he'll stop and look at me with his big glassy "Puss in Boots" eyes and say something like, "You didn't have to say it like that Mommy." In those moments, I apologize and repeat myself in a nicer tone. He's teaching me to be patient but also to apologize when I'm wrong. Just because I am "Mom" doesn't mean I'm always right.

Boss Mom Nation

On the three words that represent her approach to motherhood:

Fun, Affectionate, and Empathetic. Having fun is important, and the ability to find fun/joy in everything is a superpower. It's a perspective that allows you to be free no matter what the circumstance, so it's important that we live that way. Affection is so important. Showing him that having feelings is normal and wanting to express them what makes us human. I never want him to suppress his feelings or feel guilty for expressing them. In my house, we hug and talk A LOT. As a child, there were times I felt like I wasn't allowed to feel certain things because I was just "a child." But I try to be empathetic to what his experience is as an 8-year-old little black boy in America, who is being co-parented, and who is just trying to figure out who he is.

On how she lets her hair down when her son's not around:

I'm a 420 mom. So on the weekends when he's with his dad...I roll a joint and partake FREELY around the house! For self-care I write. I take baths. I go to the gym. I eat well (most times). I allow myself to simply BE. Everyday looks different. But I make sure I'm in touch with my feelings and how they dictate I should move.

On preserving the characteristics of the woman she was before becoming a mom:

I was a baby when I had him, so I've grown into womanhood while being a mom. I think it's about understanding that I don't have to sacrifice who I am to be a good mom. It's about finding balance: taking care of my responsibilities but also making time for SELF.

I think sacrificing your happiness is the biggest mistake we can make. We can have it all.

On who inspires her to be a better mother:

One of my mentors Qiyamah [inspires me]. I love her sense of individuality. She's from where I'm from: Newark, NJ. Her kids are older, and she's living her best life: part-time on a boat in the Bahamas while building a bed and breakfast with her husband. She is humble, and beautiful, and fly as ever. She's an example that you can still live YOUR life, be an individual, and be a loving mother. She inspires me to build the life I want to see for myself.

For more of Christina, check her out on Instagram.

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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