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I Went To Negril And Got Naked

Spending four days at a clothing-optional resort never felt so good.

Travel

If you've ever googled Hedonism II, you have likely found message boards wondering if the resort is filled with a bunch of naked people having lots of sex in public. So, when I was invited to experience the resort myself, I was a little apprehensive — but like Shonda Rhimes, I said yes. In my mind, what did I have to lose by packing my bags, jetting off to Jamaica, and spending four days at a clothing-optional resort? Nothing.

Well, except my clothes.

Growing up in Atlanta, I always felt like we were "liberal," but when I look at how I was raised, my parents are very conservative. While I am the most liberal thinker in my family, I recognize that my conservative nature comes out in how I present myself to the world, and how I see my sexuality. The moment I hit puberty, my mom made sure I always wore a slip, a bra, and full panties because I guess anything else would have made me too fast or too grown.

I understand why she did what she did. Her objective was to "make sure I looked like a child" so that grown men wouldn't sexualize me too early and I wouldn't be prone to sexual violence. The sad part is both of those things happened even with me doing all of the right things. As I packed for Hedo, I thought about this a lot, even calling myself a "prude" in conversation with friends when I talked about my trip. Wearing anything low-cut, short, or that shows any skin beyond what my parents taught me was acceptable makes me uncomfortable. I'm either covering up with a blazer or pulling down my skirt in fear of showing too much. Much of that now comes from all of my experiences with men from a distance and those that have been important in my life.

Courtesy of Bianca Lambert

I decided I was going against the grain for this trip.

My body has been policed, abused, and shamed. In my mind, this was my chance to take my power back. To defy the idea that wearing short, sheer, and sexy clothes made me anything but the beautiful black woman I am becoming.

I hit Amazon and added pasties, a sheer dress, and a strappy leopard swimsuit to my cart. I also knew I was "packing" my birthday suit because I was going to the nude beach and disrobing.

When I arrived, I was greeted by Denise and Chantel. Two stunning black women who treated me like family from the start. I soon met up with my girls for the four-day stay dressed in a thong, pasties, and a sheer dress. I questioned whether it was too early to be letting it all hang out since it was my first time meeting the group, but the ladies validated me immediately.

Courtesy of Bianca Lambert

Later, we caught the fetish show that featured stunning black men and women dressed in sheer bodysuits, colorful pasties, and at certain points, they were topless. As I watched them twerk, grind, and own their bodies — I was inspired. How does one get to this point in life? Especially the ladies. We are taught from the jump that enjoying sex is for men, and we're just there to fulfill their pleasure and fantasies. Then layering on sexual liberation as a black woman? Whoa, that's a whole different article.

After watching the show, I knew I was ready for the nude side of the beach. When in Rome…

There is a nude side and a prude side at Hedo, and while the prude side offers a chance to be naked or clothed, on the nude side, your only option is letting yourself be free. I gathered the girls after lunch, and we started our walk down the sandy stretch of the beach towards the nude side. Once we got there, we all hesitated. I felt knots in my stomach and kind of wanted to turn back, but I didn't. I went for it. I took off my swimsuit top and bottom and walked freely across the sand with the four other ladies with me.

Courtesy of Bianca Lambert

I'd be telling a story if I told you it didn't feel awkward. "Is anyone looking at me?" I thought. Well, the answer to that is yes.

But, everyone was naked, so it made that reality less weird. Laying out and walking into the water sans clothing was incredibly liberating, much like my experience at Hedo. The resort is not about being a "freak," it's about letting go of judgment, eating good food, watching great entertainment, and dancing the night away at the disco or at a toga foam party.

My experience not only was a stepping stone in me, it was a moment of reclaiming my body from a traumatic situation that still haunts me. It helped me realize that I'm not as "okay" as I thought I was. There are moments when I walked the long way so that I didn't have to interact with men, there were times when I cowered when men complimented me. Having those reactions a month, two months or even years after an assault is normal, and as my fellow writer and new friend *Delores said, "You don't owe anyone an explanation."

Courtesy of Bianca Lambert

The women of Hedo (who were all women of color) that I met on this trip (Hey Denise, Michelle, Diana, and Melissa!), are why I'd recommend women hit the resort with their girls. Hedonism isn't about hooking up with random people (which is an option if that's what you're into) or going nude. The resort is about allowing yourself to experience life without judgment and restriction, no matter what that looks like to you— and know that you're in a safe space to explore, thanks to women I mentioned above.

You can have whatever experience you desire. If going topless and walking the beach is your version of taking a chance, you can do that. If you're into finding a sex partner(s), to explore sexually, you can do that. Want to have sex in a pool out in the open? You can try that, too (I saw that for myself.). Or, if you just want a drink, tan, take twerking lessons, snorkel, and eat chicken wings (which are so good) at two o'clock in the morning, live your best life, sis.

Courtesy of Bianca Lambert

Sexual liberation can come in any form.

My liberation came from walking the beach naked and being reminded that I own the rights to my body no matter what a man, these Republicans, or society says.

I'm grateful I was able to have this "aha moment" amongst women who were supportive and fun; at a resort that is as beautiful as it is transformative.

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Featured image by Getty Images/EyeEm

Originally published on June 11, 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
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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