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Jordyn Woods Said She Felt Like A Black Woman For The First Time During Tristan Thompson Scandal

Here's what I think about that.

Culture & Entertainment

When I was little, I didn't own white barbie dolls, and I never saw movies like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast. My version of Aesop's fables had a Goldilocks story featuring a little Black girl with gold dreadlocks. It wasn't that parents didn't like white people, but they did want me to understand that a white woman with blonde hair and blue eyes wasn't the only depiction of "beauty".

My mom made me aware of my privilege as a high-yellow (that's what we call it in the South) Black woman but also made it a point to let me know that I was a Black woman nonetheless. But as I grew older, as the only Black girl in my grade school class, I tried to dismiss the idea that I was different just because of my skin tone. I was sadly mistaken.

We all know, kids can be mean; and as hard as I tried to fit in, I always felt like an outcast. Nobody called me a n*gger or blackie, but I know for a fact that I was treated differently.

In these subtle moments of indifference, I understood that the color of my skin wasn't the only thing that made me Black, it was my experience; and when I say experience, I don't just mean the bad ones.

Hold that thought, I'll circle back.

Recently, Jordyn Woods was placed dead in the middle of a scandal featuring the Kardashians and Tristan Thompson. After being excommunicated from the clan by her former best friend, Kylie Jenner, and sister, Khloe Kardashian, Jordyn did an interview on Red Table Talk with extended family member, Jada Pinkett-Smith, where she was given the opportunity to shed light on her truth and deny the accusations against her.

Red Table Talk / Facebook Watch

Since then, Jordyn has been booked, busy, and tight-lipped. Last weekend at the Nigerian Homecoming Festival, the influencer spoke out once again, explaining how her family has gotten the brunt of her negative media attention. She explained:

"My little sister was bullied in school, and I wanted to show her that I was bullied by the world."

The statement that followed has gotten Jordyn in some serious hot water with Black Twitter:

"I understood for the first time what it's like being a black woman in a just society. How we can be so disrespected, and nobody can really understand to that extent until you have lived it."

Jordyn, girl. I'ma keep it real with you because I have love for you. But somebody taught you wrong about what it means to be a black woman. Although we sometimes feel defined by our experiences, struggle is not what makes us who we are.

To some extent, I feel where Jordyn is coming from. The most disrespected woman in America is the Black woman. The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman, the most unprotected person in America is the Black woman, the most neglected person in America is the Black woman. Word to Malcolm X, I feel you, sis; but in 2019, Black women in America have been given the privilege by our ancestors to have other experiences, good experiences that define us, too.

I decided to take it to the streets and ask 4 women what they had to say about what it really means to be a black woman:

Sheriden Chanel, Managing Editor

"I've had many reaffirming moments about my Black identity throughout my life. Whether it's being acknowledged by a fellow Black woman that I'm glowing or yesterday, when the lady in the lobby told me that I was giving her a melanin charge with the embrace I gave her. I think the first time I ever felt that way specifically was the constant my dad provided in repeatedly making me aware of my magic. My skin is beautiful, my hair is beautiful, I am beautiful. My dad instilled the power of being Black AF in me always. When I have my fro out and when someone acknowledges my crown or whenever I referred to as a Queen -- I feel Black AF daily but the little moments other people bear witness to my magic makes me feel that power even more."

Michelby Whitehead, PR Specialist 

"Trust me; I too get annoyed when white people scrunch up their faces in confusion right before I speak, acting like it's automatically difficult for them to interpret what I'm about to say. But the way white people see us has never resonated with my actualization of what it is to be Black. Every time I hear a new song of any genre and my hips catch the beat in less than five seconds, it's a reminder I'm Black AF. When I'm ready to embark on a new venture and see melanin faces that have done it before me with little resources, I'm reminded of what Black Girl Magic is."

Pep Holman, Bridal Coach

"One moment that made me feel Black as hell was during Hurricane Katrina. At the time I was in the National Guard and we set up a distribution center where we gave out food and water to families who just lost everything. I remember handing a box of food to a Black woman who looked completely shaken up. When she made eye contact with me, she gave the slightest smile and whispered, 'Thank you!' On that particular day, I was the only Black female sergeant on duty. I can express how proud I felt. I just know one thing, when you're in a crisis, there's a certain level of comfort that Black women provide -- Black Girl Magic."

Shellie R. Warren, Life Coach & Writer

Cody Uhls

"Every time I wear a graphic tee that praises unapologetic Blackness---from my one that shouts out Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee to my A Different World throwback to the one with Nipsey Hussle on it, every time I get complimented on my 'fro, every time my goddaughter tells me that I'm pretty, every time I look at the cover of my first book and know that the cover art is me...every time a Black man I don't know approaches me and says things like 'Thanks for remembering what you look like' on the days when I'm totally au naturale (true story right there)...I could go on and on about what makes me feel good about being a Black woman."

"For me, the reality of being Black is far more of a privilege than it could ever be a struggle. It's dopeness personified and amplified. Daily. My self-love and ever-evolving Black awareness makes anyone's issues with how God made me totally irrelevant. To me, anyway."

Jordyn, I'm sorry if you've never had these experiences, and that the only way you know how to define Black feminity is through struggle. There's so much beauty in our experiences, as well as who we are as Black women, even if you don't see that reflected in the mainstream.

Featured image by Jordyn Woods/Instagram.

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:
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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