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Doula Brandi Sellerz-Jackson Says Motherhood Helped Her Birth Her "Why"

"Motherhood has not only given me my 'why', but I believe it's birthed even more creativity."

Mother/Hustler

In xoNecole's series Mother/Hustler, we sit down with influential mom bosses who open up about the ups and downs of motherhood, as well as how they kill it in their respective industries, all while keeping their sanity and being intentional about self-care.

Not long before Mother/Hustler Brandi Sellerz-Jackson started her business in 2016, she miscarried a child and felt placed between a rock and a hard place emotionally. Months later, even after Brandi and her husband became pregnant with their rainbow baby, Jedi, the now 37-year-old mom was still grieving the baby she lost only a year earlier and felt more isolated than ever. It wasn't long before Brandi recognized that she was not alone in her loneliness, and since there were few safe spaces for women to talk about these traumas, she decided to create one.

Not So Private Parts is an online community that was created for women like Brandi, who feel like they have faced some of the hardest trials in life by themselves, to feel connected to a community who can sincerely relate. Since the birth of her sons Jax and Jedi, as well as the most recent addition to her family, Jupiter, Brandi says that she feels impregnated with more insight than ever before.

"Motherhood has not only given me my 'why', but I believe it's birthed even more creativity."

As a blogger, wife, and mother of three, Brandi says that bossing up isn't easy, but boy, is it a blessing for her kids to see her sign her own checks. "I am always thinking of ways that I can create pathways for not just my children, but my grandchildren, and my grandchildren's children. How can I make the road easier for the generations to follow?"

For Brandi, being a mogul mommy with a vision means keeping promises to yourself, even if that just means intentionally setting an earlier bedtime, or updating her calendar. Although this Mother/Hustler spends much of her time birthing babies, she also makes time to create space for her own dreams to grow in a healthy environment. She explained, "Do what you can to get [things] done. Keep a calendar and all the reminders set. Relinquish. Take care of yourself first, so that you can better take care of others."

Here's how Brandi balances being a mother-of-three and professional miracle worker, all while minding her self-care at the same damn time:

What’s your occupation? 

"I am a Birth and Postpartum Doula and the creator of the women's online platform, Not So Private Parts. I am also the co-founder of Moms In Color, a collective created for and by Black moms to celebrate diversity within the motherhood community. I am a creative. I create pathways."

Are you single?

"No, my husband and I have been together for 18 years and married for 14 years in November."

How do you handle moments when you feel overwhelmed?

"I first take a breath and ask myself, what is it that I need? I do a mental checklist of sorts: am I hungry? Am I exhausted? Have I overextended myself? Am I staying hydrated? Do I need to step away and put on the oxygen?"

What’s the hardest part of your day?

"The hardest part of the day are mostly evenings. I think for most parents, evenings/bedtime can be quite the struggle. By this time, kids are tired and beyond exhausted from their own day. After all, they are little humans. They are processing their own stuff as well. Oftentimes, they have no clue that they are tired. It's a lot."

How (and how often) do you practice self-care? 

"I try my hardest to practice self-care before I become overextended or in need of it. Keyword… TRY. For me, sometimes self-care looks like going to the Korean Spa and taking a soak. Sometimes, it looks like me preparing an amazing dish, just for me. Other times, self-care looks like me intentionally going to bed early. Self-care is all about listening and responding to your body's needs."

What is your advice for dealing with mom guilt?

"Let go of it. We are all doing the best that we can. We are all hopefully attempting to raise thriving, kind, and aware humans. There is no place for judgment either for self or for others."

What is your favorite way to spend “me time”?

"Because I have THREE BOYS, one can imagine that our home is pretty loud. When I need "me time" it usually involves some level of quiet. I love to sit in complete silence and just gather my thoughts. Put pen to paper. Breathe."

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

"Go for it. There is space for that idea that keeps you up at night. Most importantly, there is a need. People are waiting for your vision to manifest. They need your vision to manifest."

"Go for it. There is space for that idea that keeps you up at night. Most importantly, there is a need. People are waiting for your vision to manifest. They need your vision to manifest."

Why was it important to you to be an entrepreneur even though some people may think that a 9-5 offers more stability?

"This is for our kids! All of it! We truly believe that if our kids grow up seeing parents happy and thriving (in whatever space) it will benefit them in the long run. Now, don't get it twisted. I get it, I understand. Having a solid 9-5 is amazing. The stability is amazing. It's just a matter of what feels best and/or brings you the most peace."

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a mom who runs a business?

"Balancing and finding time for it all can be challenging. There are days where I am super productive, and then there are days when I have to relinquish. All of this is ok."

What is the most important lesson you want your kid(s) to learn from you?

"I want my kids to know that they are capable of anything. That they are important, needed, and purposed for this great big world. I want them to continue to see my husband and I living out our dreams so that they know that they can do it too."

Do you think it’s important to keep your personal and professional life separate? Why or why not?

"It depends. When I am supporting mothers during birth or postpartum, I try to leave my own experiences out of it because each journey is different. However, there are times where a client will want to know my journey in hopes to better navigate their own. In this case, I may share. It really depends on what feels most beneficial in the moment and on a case by case basis. Also, I am in the 'sharing' business. When creating, there are levels of being private. It just depends."

What tips do you have for financial planning, both professionally and for your family?

"Budget, budget, budget. Vision board or simply write down your financial goals. Whatever it looks like, keep the goal front and center."

If you're ever in Cali and need help birthing a baby or just want to connect with a community of dope moms, make sure to check out NotSoPrivateParts.life, and you can keep up with Brandi on Instagram by following @bstereo!

Featured image by @bstereo.

Originally published July 28, 2019

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

Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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