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How To Fight Right & Save Your Relationships In The Process

Nothing is to be gained from getting the last word.

Love & Relationships

I don't really believe that anyone likes confrontation, but we've all gotten into one at some point or another. Whether your employer blamed you for a shortcoming or a client accused you of poor customer service, we have to admit–it can be an ugly experience. When any two people from different walks of life come together, there is bound to be some friction at some point in time but conflict and confrontation aren't necessarily synonymous. In fact, they can be the very thing that strengthens a relationship if both parties are able to come to an understanding of the matter at hand.

A perfect example of this would be, you thinking the sky is navy and sis saying it's indigo. Your individual perspectives aren't as important as your abilities to see things from another angle and consider that perhaps neither opinion is wrong. You both gain a deeper understanding of one another thus improving your communication and the disagreement. You chose to fight, the right way, instead of taking flight. You're in fact stronger because of it. When we act out of character and act on our impulses, that's when things can go awry. Now you're yelling over each other, speaking out the side of your neck with your claws in each other's faces and no one feels heard, understood or respected.

Let's try a more intimate relationship like a lover. How does it feel going toe to toe with your life partner? You know we can be a bit vile when our feelings are hurt, ladies. If we're completely honest, we can resort to throwing verbal blows by way of roast wars that attack everything from his pockets to his self-esteem. I'm talking about the man whom you vowed to protect from the evil perils of the world and vice versa.

What good comes from going off script and spewing hateful nothings to a friend that you once split your last $10 with as teenagers? The one you called that time those girls were picking on you and she rolled up in 5-4-3! These are completely rhetorical questions because if you've lived a little, you know that nothing is to be gained from getting the last word. When you go home and replay the arguments as an evolved adult, you probably cringe at how low you allowed yourself to go. You may wish that the words hadn't come out that way or that you had more tact in your delivery. I've been there and, like most things in life, there's always room for improvement. What didn't kill you will make you stronger. I had to say it.

I'm kinda, sorta obsessed with Black Love, the doc. It's one of the few shows that feed my dreams of one day finding my equally yoked, let's fight right, we don't go to bed mad, etc. etc. But when I first got into the show, I was quickly made aware that I didn't know how to fight like these married folk did. I belittled both friends and emasculated lovers when pushed to the edge or disrespected. I would make painful jabs at their weak points. As an avid reader and eloquent writer, my words have always been my weapon of choice.

Overall, I was a mild-mannered young lady but when I let things bottle up (mistake #1), I would snap without warning. Because I felt my pain was valid, that to me meant that the anger was also valid and that whoever was on the receiving end deserved however I decided to lash out (mistake #2).

I'd like to say that the last screaming match I got into was a few years ago. It was a heated argument after a funeral and the last time that I allowed that part of myself, the part that I've been actively healing, to relapse. If what you've been doing thus far has been working for you––the paragraph texts, subliminal memes, and silent treatments––stop here. The rest won't serve you any good. If you're ready to take accountability and check yoself' at the same time, let's talk about 3 principles of fighting right.

Think Before You Speak

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Somewhere in between high school and adulting, we forgot this fundamental unwritten rule. That moment, where you pause to assess the matter, is where you insert the woosah. The moment of stillness where you figure out why you feel the way you do. This is where you find clarity. Clarity on how you choose to react to a situation and to plot your course of action. Did it upset you when your girlfriend did that stupid voice she does when there are guys around and aired out your personal business? Of course. But calling her out in front of everyone might have added fuel to the fire.

Deciding to take some time to call her and talk about it the next day might be a better choice. Especially since she would loan you the shirt off your back before you even had to ask. Sometimes good people do silly things.

Exercise Tact

I don't remember where I first discovered this concept but I immediately knew that whatever tact was, it sounded good and I could use a few servings. Tact is to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. It's not as bad as it sounds. Let me give you a scenario: You just found out that your husband lost his job. Only thing is he was laid off two weeks ago and has been leaving every morning and returning at the usual time every night. Which course of action do you think will encourage your husband to be open and vulnerable with you?

"So, you know that it's Christmas in two months and you have the *insert expletives* nerve to be acting like you have a *insert expletives* job? I knew your trifling ass didn't have the balls to tell me!" or "Babe, can we talk for a minute? I just heard a voicemail from your boss. Why didn't you feel you could be honest with me? What happened?"

I'm giggling typing this out because old me? Let's just thank the big man upstairs for growth!

Remember That You're Fighting The Problem Itself, Not Each Other

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In a relationship of any sort, you walk together. You're on the ship together. Therefore, when a problem arises, if your collective mindset is how are we going to cross this together, your entire approach to the problem shifts. You're now in a problem-solving mood. The focus shifts from telling each other about themselves, where to go and how to get there to how do we move forward together? Deciding to attack the giant together already dictates your speech and demeanor. Granted, there are and will be many times that the relationship won't be worth fighting for. Lines may have been crossed and the trust subsequently shattered. Nonetheless, I implore you to exercise rules 1 and 2. It's truly for your own peace of mind.

If I could go back and redo a few situations, I would. It's not that I hope for a different outcome. It's that I frown on my conduct or my inability to tuck my heart in and take it off my sleeve.

I'm a deep-feeling, overly-analytical empath and that combination didn't always help when it came to fighting right. As a victim of sex abuse at a young age, I put up a tough demeanor as a coping mechanism. It was my way of saying, "He might have won that fight, but none of y'all are going to eff with me again" but if you approach every situation like they're all out to get you, you'll convince yourself it's the truth.

Your mind, your experiences and your outlook can truly make a mountain out of a molehill. Change the narrative. Too often, we talk about wanting to be chosen by the people that matter in our lives. Yes, you're an obviously easy choice when things are going your way, but when the going gets tough and your character is put to the test...would you choose you? Move with integrity, act with intention and be mindful of the moments you feel tempted to choose aggression over peace.

For every action, there is an equal or greater reaction and that's law. Newton's law to be exact.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

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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
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