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Artist Jayson Aaron: The Most Courageous Thing A Man Can Do Is Open His Heart

This LA-based creative puts us on to the beauty of a man who's put in the inner work.

#xoMan

Jayson Aaron is, in his own words, a philosopher with a fly exterior. Speaking of words, the model/creative also a man of many. So much so, that it turns our original half-hour interview into a conversation between friends that lasts just shy of 60 minutes.

But perhaps more importantly, Jayson Aaron is a man who's in the business of making his dreams—even the most audacious ones—a reality. "We only have a limited amount of time and if you're not living out your dreams, you're dying," he tells xoNecole. "That's just how I feel."

It's just over 30 minutes past the hour on a busy Friday morning and he pauses to apologize for the loud ambulance sirens that so rudely interrupt our lengthy yet lesson-filled chat. Those sirens become increasingly ironic considering the subject matter of the tale he begins to recount a few moments after. A home invasion, a gunshot to the chest, and an out-of-body experience that quite frankly sounds like a scene straight out of a sci-fi thriller. A moment, so unlike any he'd ever experienced before, that would not only reshape his outlook on death but on life as well.

And now, trying to coexist between two contrasting realities: earthly stress and ethereal tranquility, Aaron has shed his old man and picked up the mantle of this new one with one main goal in mind: to live life on his own terms and keep his inner peace. A peace that's perhaps above and beyond any he'd ever known, but one that he knows is possible to achieve. "I think that my journey, what it taught me and the trajectory that it sent me on was that I knew that if I would be here, there's a certain level of peace that I can obtain and that it just might be possible in this dimension," the L.A. native explains. "And so because of that: my decisions mean more to me now, my time is more valuable to me now. I can't just waste it."

xoNecole recently got the chance to talk all things life and love from Jayson's vantage point and here's what we saw:

I define myself as…

"...A philosopher in the realm of entertainment and fashion. What I studied in school was philosophy. My head was always in a book and I'm always listening to some form of inspirational audio, whether it be an audiobook, an interview, or a person whose words I admire. That comprises about 50 percent of my day and I think that's also the part that people don't know about me. How cerebral I am, which then influences all the art that I make."

The moment that changed everything taught me…

"...That rock bottom is the trampoline. And the reason why I say that is because oftentimes, it takes people to fall on their faces, not necessarily to get inspired because nobody wants to hit rock bottom, but what actually ends up happening is, you find out exactly what you don't want. And the best thing that anybody could do in their life is to make a new decision. From that point on, we have the opportunity to be able to decide exactly what we do want and how to use that negative energy, if you will, as fuel to get to the positive side."

Courtesy of Jayson Aaron

"The best thing that anybody could do in their life is to make a new decision. From that point on, we have the opportunity to be able to decide exactly what we do want and how to use that negative energy, if you will, as fuel to get to the positive side."

Life after "death" has led me…

"...On a journey of releasing my trauma through various ways in different modalities. I think that everything that we want is on the other side of our fears and it taught me that our emotions are what set the patterns for life, whether it be bad or good. It's the emotions that are oftentimes trapped in our body and causing us to be tense, and it's our emotions that we should release in order to live a proper, good, healthy, mentally healthy lifestyle. That moment made me more self-aware and that's the key to life."

Practicing self-awareness and my spirituality has made me...

"...Study myself a lot and what I found was that every effect has a cause. So if I were to feel a way about something, especially in an extreme way, you know, that's an effect caused by something-- probably a thought. So I've learned to trace that effect back and go back within my body, go back within my mind, to see exactly what it is. And it's usually a form of trauma that happened; I felt some type of way about it and I suppressed it instead of expressing it.

"But I've learned to stop placing my triggers on other people and address those things within myself and I think taking that stance on life has helped me grow and blossom into a new person. People trust me more because I trust myself more. I realized we're all reflections of each other, so I can't do anything to you that I'm really truly not doing to myself."

"I've learned to trace that effect back and go back within my body, go back within my mind, to see exactly what it is. And it's usually a form of trauma that happened; I felt some type of way about it and I suppressed it instead of expressing it."

Doing the self-work prior to my relationship allows me to…

"...Find my happiness again and that has nothing to do with anyone else because nobody else could give you that. I had to find that within myself, but because I'm here today [and] because I'm in a relationship, I'm able to profess that and I have that confidence. I have that glow. My eyes are brighter and my smile is bigger. So I attribute that to the relationship because I can now deal with and express myself within. It's all good things. I'm in love and I'm in love with life."

Being courageous in love means that…

"Essentially how you treat or view your woman is a large part of how you feel about the Universe. So, if I can openly love, in general, and if I can show love without fear to a woman, what that truly means is that I'm an open man in general. I have the confidence to go out into the world and know that what I want to make happen, can happen. So, in saying that, the most courageous thing a man could do is open his heart; one of the biggest complaints that I've gotten over the course of all my relationships, was how ice cold I am, how closed off my heart is.

"And again, going back into the conversation about processing trauma, how can you open your heart if you feel that the world is against you? Or you don't feel safe walking down the street? So, in that moment, yeah I'm professing my love for my girl, but at the same time, what I'm really doing is professing my love for the Universe. I'm saying that I'm open to receive all the blessings I deserve in life and because I get to share the experience with someone who I'm in a relationship with, they get to share in those blessings too."

"How you treat or view your woman is a large part of how you feel about the Universe. So, if I can openly love, in general, and if I can show love without fear to a woman, what that truly means is that I'm an open man in general. I have the confidence to go out into the world and know that what I want to make happen, can happen. In saying that, the most courageous thing a man could do is open his heart."

Finding my soulmate...

"...Is what I consider a purpose-mate. A purpose-mate is someone who has the same outlook on life as you and someone who is trying to make the same impact on the world as you are. As a person, you're strong; but as a unit, you're stronger. Behind every great man is a great woman; behind every great woman is a great man. I think that when you have a big dream, you need somebody who has a bigger capacity to hold that dream and there's only a handful of people who might be able to share in that.

"I do believe in love at first sight and before I thought I experienced it in the past. But when you're around the right person, there's a relaxation, which is something that I pay attention to because that means you're both on the same frequency. I'm tenacious about getting better and improving myself and getting out of my own fears. So I had to be with someone who I consider to be a purpose-mate."

Intimacy between partners should...

"...Provide a sense of security, emotional security, which is something that's invaluable. Everybody has different love languages so it should be expressed in different ways but I think being present, paying attention, [and] listening are all forms of intimacy that can't be replaced. Yeah, you can have sex but if you're just doing it for the action of it, then there's no substance. Everything that I do has to have substance, so being present in that space, in that touch, in that eye contact, in that conversation, in that hug, all those things mean more. Intimacy is the same as watering a plant; you have to be present, you have to love on it in whatever way is needed and do it consistently, and it can't be reactive, it has to be proactive."

"Everything that I do has to have substance, so being present in that space, in that touch, in that eye contact, in that conversation, in that hug, all those things mean more. Intimacy is the same as watering a plant; you have to be present, you have to love on it in whatever way is needed and do it consistently, and it can't be reactive, it has to be proactive."

What I know now about love is that… 

"...There could be no way that I could properly love anyone else if I don't know what it means to love myself. So now, as I've grown, my experiences and viewpoints have grown. My outlook on women has changed. Before I was only looking at the outer shell of a woman, I was only looking at what I could get from her; that was the mentality I had and the mindset I operated from. But as I elevated my mind and how I treated myself, my version of love has changed, my version of love is an action that is designed to help increase the happiness of the other person.

"If I can be around you long enough, I'm going to get you to love yourself a little more and blossom more than you've ever blossomed before. My version of love is to help you see a greater perspective of what love is."

Courtesy of Jayson Aaron

"As I've grown, my experiences and viewpoints have grown. My outlook on women has changed. Before I was only looking at the outer shell of a woman, I was only looking at what I could get from her; that was the mentality I had and the mindset I operated from. But as I elevated my mind and how I treated myself, my version of love has changed, my version of love is an action that is designed to help increase the happiness of the other person."

What I know now about myself is...

"...That underneath all the things that I let go, I realized how loving I could be, how confident I could be; how far I could take my life. I realized all the things that I could touch. You know, I was surprised that I lived after getting shot. So now, I'm jumping higher than I've ever jumped before. I'm taking off limits, I'm doing things that I never thought were possible because my faith is strengthened. I have a deeper sense of faith in the Universe, in God, in myself and now life has gotten more fun. It took a while to get here, a lot of self-work and re-wiring of my brain but, now that I see life differently, I'm able to be happier in living it.

Want more of Jayson? Make sure to follow him on Instagram to keep up with him.

Featured image courtesy of Jayson Aaron.

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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