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4 Lessons I Learned From Losing Friends

What About Your Friends?

Considering it's the year of the woman, we haven't been short of inspiring suggestions and tips on how to drop toxic friends or be even better ones. But what about those times when we're the ones who have actually been the friend that was toxic and didn't make the cut in our now ex-friend's "new year, new me" stance?

Yes, I've been that friend. While it's been a while since it's happened to me, I've been there. And sometimes there's this status quo that we're bad people because we didn't get the hint or didn't realize we were still growing. But in essence, while having a friend pull away from us is hurtful, there's certainly a lesson in it.

1. Do Some Self-Reflecting.

Whether she told you outright why she didn't want to be friends anymore, or you received a certain vibe that made it clear, that awkward first phase of no longer being friends is the perfect time to do a little self-reflecting. As hard as it is to admit, you could very well be the one who dropped the ball in the friendship. Whether it was not being supportive, or just not being there when she needed you the most, it's vital to look at things from her point of view. Sometimes we don't realize how we're treating other people, especially if we're going through things ourselves. We could be looking for someone to be there and support us, and not miss their multiple signals of them needing the same. That's the thing about being a friend, sometimes we have to be one even in those moments when we need it the most. I know that I've fallen short of this multiple times.

While those first moments of this lost friendship were me racking my brain about why she was "acting funny," sometimes it's better to just let it go. While we might wonder why she didn't just say something instead of cutting you off altogether, she really might have tried. That's where this self-reflecting comes in. Don't get me wrong. It's not about beating yourself up because you didn't answer your phone when she called or thinking of yourself as less than because you just weren't a good friend in some moments, it's really just about reflecting on what signals you missed and how you can become better for the friends that you do still have.

2. Forgive, Let Go, And Let God.

Having a friend ghost us is pretty painful, but you gotta forgive her sis. As tempting as it is to get those Twitter fingers rolling, this isn't the time to write subliminal messages on Facebook and Twitter (do people still do that?) trying to get her attention and share your side of the story. At the end of the day, people come into our lives for a reason, season, or a lifetime. Maybe the season of your friendship was over, and God had to show you that you weren't meant to be friends forever. As much as we want those life-long friendships we see in The Best Man, we have to be okay when that doesn't work out, even if it seemed like we didn't have anything to do with the decision and got the short end of the stick. You don't even have to let her know that you forgive her, unless the conversation comes up. If it doesn't, just make your own resolve within yourself that you're going to move forward.

3. Don’t Think You’re A Bad Person.

It's so easy to think that just because someone dropped us, we're not worthy of being a friend with anyone. You never know, she could have been going through her own thing and for whatever reason, showed her own true self to you. Just because you were the one who didn't do the ghosting doesn't mean that you're a terrible person. Even if it was because you were a bad friend, there's a lesson in it (some that might be best worked out in therapy). I've been known to be loyal to a fault. I've ignored those signs of "when someone shows you who they are believe them." Still, in those same situations, even knowing that the other person wasn't the healthiest friend for me, I never ghosted them. So when they did it to me, while it was hurtful, there was no way it was because I was a bad person. At times, you might be the friend who's dropped because your now ex-friend couldn't handle your success, or your new lifestyle if you've had a major change recently. Either way, you getting dropped doesn't mean that you're a bad person.

4. Let It Make You Better.

Once you get over the shock of losing your friend, and over the realization that it's very possible you were to blame, shake it off. I know, it sounds so minimal and so easy, yet it can make a big impact sis. Seriously. Sometimes we don't understand that losing a close friend is just as (and sometimes even more) painful than going through a breakup. But just like romantic relationships, even when you played a major part, it doesn't mean you're banned from ever having a relationship again. It just means you had to learn about yourself. Even though we might have thought we were beyond that lesson and are too old to be learning it, I completely understand being a late bloomer. At the end of day, you just have to put your life back together, reflect, and become a better person because of it. It's never too late to do that.

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Featured image via Giphy

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

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