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Cuffing Season & COVID-19. Whew, Chile.

How in the world do COVID-19 and cuffing season work? Good question.

Dating

Can y'all believe that we're actually back here again? I know I can't. To say that 2020 has been weird AF, I'm well aware is the ultimate understatement but man—I don't recall there ever being a year where it seemed like days stood still while months flew by. Yet since we're here, actually at the end of another October, and also since this is the month when cuffing season officially starts (word on the street is that it ends right around Valentine's Day), I knew I couldn't let us all go into November without first offering up a few tips on how to handle cuffing season, as we're in the midst of a freakin' pandemic—one that is actually predicted to only get worse during the fall and winter months (SMDH).

While some of you might automatically say that such a dire forecast is reason alone to sit this particular cuffing season out, I'm pretty sure there are others who are like, "If there was ever a time when I wanted some cozy companionship to get through a six-month block of cold weather, the time would be now." For those who happen to fall into Column B, this is written with you in mind. If cuffing is what you plan to do, please do it as responsibly as you possibly can, OK?

Don’t “Cuff”, Just for Tradition’s Sake

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Lawd, do I have some friends who get as excited about cuffing season as they do about football season. And before you turn up your lips and assume that they're all men, that is absolutely not the case. Several women in my life like cuffing (and football) because this is the time of year when their life slows down a bit more. The inclement weather keeps them from wanting to go out as much as they do during the spring and summertime. Plus, I don't know what it is about those damn Hallmark movies, but they're like emotional catnip when it comes to wanting to have a boo, even if it's just until after those films stop incessantly rolling. Then if you add this year's pandemic into the mix—since those of us who still have some common sense are acting like COVID-19 can kill folks ("us" more than "them", by the way), this means that holiday parties and outings are basically a bust. So, since there's less out-of-the-house socializing going on, that makes cuffing all the more…intriguing. Tempting even.

If what I just said sums up exactly how you're feeling, don't feel bad or even guilty about that. You're human and no man is an island. At the same time, if cuffing season didn't really cross your mind until this article came across your monitor or cell phone screen, don't pressure yourself to participate in it either. If you've been doing just fine with, whatever it is that you're doing—and have been doing—then it's probably best to continue on. Remember that the only person you are constantly around is yourself. Bringing another person into your home and private space comes with a certain amount of risk. Especially in the time of COVID-19.

Keep Your Guard Up. A Lot of Folks Are Crafty Out Here.

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That said, if you're still like, "Nah. I gotta get me a cuddle buddy", please make sure to operate from a place of total discernment. I've shared before that while I personally don't do social media, I will tiptoe into platforms to see what folks are up to from time to time and man—I saw this one Twitter thread where guys were sharing the stuff that they were telling women, just so they could lock a cuffing partner down this year. And boy, are they upping the ante on the bullshishery! It all actually reminded me of what an elder once said. She said that women are sitting on a million dollars and giving it all away for a Happy Meal (chile).

I know what it's like to feel lonely and/or horny. It's important to keep in mind that, whenever you're in either headspace, you're not actually prone to make the wisest decisions. I liken it to going grocery shopping when you're hungry; suddenly everything looks delicious. So please be really careful out here, especially if you're considering linking up with someone new as your cuffing partner this year. For one thing, six months of constant bonding with someone, even if you both claim that it's gonna be temporary, comes with some emotional risks that we oftentimes aren't mentally prepared for. And with this pandemic also being factored into the mix, based on where you live, COVID-19 testing isn't as easy to come by (financially or otherwise) as you might assume. Getting sick on top of potentially getting relationally disappointed is definitely not a good look.

Wanting companionship and attention is understandable. But please don't let any form of desperation guide you. It's a surefire way to end up a helluva lot worse than lonely and horny. And why make any decisions that will start off 2021 to be a hot mess (because we all got enough of that this year, right)?

If There Was Ever a Time to “Recycle”, this May Be It

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I once heard someone say that getting back with an ex is like putting old underwear on after taking a shower. Gross and, oftentimes, yes. At the same time, a cuffing partner isn't always or necessarily an ex, now is it? In fact, I actually know a few people who have a longstanding cuffing partner. Because they don't really want a serious relationship (at least, not for now), and also because it's typically during the warmer times of the year that they are focused on their careers and/or doing a lot of traveling, they've actually made adding the same cuffing partner into their life, each and every year, a part of their lifestyle routine. For them, it's not always or necessarily about sex either. They've simply found someone who enjoys the same things as they do and actually likes the idea of being around another person who they like and trust without all of the pressure—and, let's be honest, sometimes drama—that comes with being in a "traditional relationship".

I was just talking to a friend of mine who is getting their coins together to fly their cuffing partner in for a couple of weeks. Since they both work from home, their partner can work anywhere. Once Thanksgiving rolls around, that person will go back home. Happily so.

A "recycled" cuffing partner might seem a little unconventional but, let me tell it, that is right on-brand with 2020. At least you'll know what you're getting into and sometimes, predictability is truly a blessing in disguise.

Keep Your Immune System Up

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One of the reasons why a lot of health professionals are sending out so many warnings about this fall and winter seasons is because, as I'm sure you well know, not only do we have this pandemic to deal with, but this is peak cold and flu season as well. Not everyone is down with getting a flu shot, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 (yet) and, honestly, when it comes to COVID-19's symptoms, they are currently all over the place, with a lot of them mimicking a cold or flu. This is why it's so important to keep your immune system up.

For starters, check out articles on our platform like, "Ready To Try 10 Quick & Easy Immune-Boosting Hacks?", "7 Herbs To Get You Through The Winter Season", "Naomi Campbell Dropped Her Immunity-Boosting Vitamin & Supplement Routine" and "10 Hot Drinks To Keep You Warm This Fall & Winter". Also, just because it's cold outside and you can layer your clothes (to hide any extra weight gain), that doesn't mean that you should slack on exercise. Even as something as simple as a walk around your neighborhood can help to keep your heart strong and also give you a break from the indoor air pollution in your home (which is 2-5 times higher than what's outdoors, by the way). Also, make sure that you're intentional about eating healthy and, should you decide to order out, that you also check out our "10 Safety Practices For Ordering Takeout (During A Pandemic)" write-up.

Oh, and one more thing. I know that this current administration is rather coo-coo for cocoa puffs on the mask-wearing thing, but watching this tweet right here about how easily (and far) COVID-19 particles can spread should be enough of a reason for you to keep yours on and actually keep your distance from those who don't—including a potential cuffing partner. You've always heard that, if you're single, you should use a condom at all times, right? Well, during the time of COVID-19, mask-wearing and handwashing should be just as much of a qualifying criteria in order for someone to boo up with you. In other words, don't let a man in—or "in"—if he's not wearing his mask on a consistent basis. Don't say that I didn't warn you, sis.

It’s Cool to Take Things Slow(er) this Year

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While online dating isn't personally my thing, I certainly don't knock it. With approximately 40 percent of heterosexual couples actually meeting their longtime partner these days, clearly it's effective for some. Plus, I recently read an article on PBS.org that said, for many, online dating has been a really great experience this year. Why? Well, with sex not really being on the table for a lot of individuals, they are able to find someone they really like as a person; not just a sex partner.

That's actually really cool because, contrary to popular assumption, cuffing partner doesn't automatically mean that you have to have sex with an individual. Especially this year, cuffing season can also be about simply being intentional about meeting (or getting to know) someone who you'd like to spend more time with—even if it's just online and long-distance (for now). With any luck, come spring, there will be a real connection and you can feel more confident about letting your cuffing partner more into your life. That is, if you want them to be.

Cuff with Someone Who Takes COVID-19 As Seriously As You Do

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One more point. Back when I was out in this streets (metaphorically-speaking) and having sex (and sometimes getting my heartbroken too), if there's one pearl of wisdom that I wish I had listened to was, "Make sure that men take you as seriously as you are taking them." This includes my emotions, my time and my health. Well, that gem is actually what I'm gonna conclude this piece with.

On the personal tip (you know, outside of my landlord and folks I pay bills to), I can literally count on one hand, how many people know where I live or even have my address, for that matter. A big part of it has to do with how much of an ambivert I am. Anyway, one of the people in my life who has the privilege of being in my home space is well on their way to being banned. Why? Because they are out here going to restaurants, hopping from house to house and, the last time they came through to check on me, they didn't have a mask on (they told me they took it off in the car, so I let it slide). It's not that they don't believe that COVID-19 is real; it's more like their ego has them out here believing they are Superman or some ish. (Again, SMDH.)

Y'all, I don't care how much you want to cuddle on the couch or get it on in your bedroom, there is no amount of attention or orgasms that is worth you ending up in the hospital (or worse).

So, when it comes to my last tip about partaking in cuffing season during this pandemic, love yourself enough to choose a partner who is just as serious about not getting COVID-19 as you are. If they're not taking care of themselves, if they're not wearing a mask, if they're not washing their hands and/or if they're out here acting like nothing is going on—they don't care enough about themselves to even deserve the pleasure of spending some less-than-six-feet-away quality time with you.

Cuffing season is cool but there are other seasons that immediately follow. Make decisions that will keep you safe and healthy, well past Valentine's Day. And prayerfully, well past this pandemic too.

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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
Sign up

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