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Jordyn Woods On Bossing Up, Forgiveness & Why She’s Choosing Herself

With new business ventures, television debuts, and a pending album on the horizon, Jordyn Woods is playing to win.

BOSS UP

The comeback is always greater than the setback. And in the case of Jordyn Woods, the aftermath of an evanescent storm that was her personal life is looking like the biggest f*ck you. Because instead of staying down, the now 22-year-old bossed up, releasing clothing lines, fitness guides, making big-screen moves, and on-stage singing debuts that have her 11.6 million Instagram fans on the edge of their seats wondering what other tricks the California girl has up her sleeve.

Nearly a month into quarantine we hop on a call from our respective homes, nearly 3,000 miles away from one another. After navigating the distractions of our temporary living situations, we settle into a flow of conversation that is part-interview and part-girl talk. Days blend together just as seamlessly as her foundation, but Woods pays it no mind. With every sunrise comes a new opportunity to set the pace for her success.

"I wake up and I always create a million things for myself to do, so I don't stay bored during this," she says in reference to the quarantine life that millions have recently adopted.

What fans see is a fresh-faced Woods posting picture-perfect selfies and bodacious body shots, but behind the scenes, she's building an empire. Fresh off of an impressive run on the hit celebrity singing show, The Masked Singer, Woods is revealing more than just her vocal chops. Underneath the mask is a woman who's really about her business. Her debut album will be released under her own record label, a move she said allows her to own all of the rights to her music while maintaining creative control of her passion project. She's also using her platform to create a budding health and wellness community. Her brand FRSTPLACE— a series of workout programs that Woods swears by— was birthed from the idea of putting yourself first, something that admittedly took some time for her to understand. Fitness, she says, is what carries her through the days and helps with her mental health.

"It was never about physical appearance," she says. "My dad was always healthy, never sick, and then passed away really quickly from pancreatic cancer. So it was kind of a wake-up call to get it together but more importantly, it was more important because fitness became therapy for me, and doing something that helps me feel good and look good."

Along with her activewear line SECNDNTURE, Woods is hoping to help transform the bodies and minds of those who follow her. She recently created a fitness challenge awarding $1,000 to the top two transformations. "I really just did that to help motivate people to have some center and to just get up and start doing because what's deeper than health is also mental health, and when you're sitting for too long it becomes toxic."

She's making the most of her moment while simultaneously shedding the shame of her past. Just last year she was dodging headlines linking her and the Kardashians, but in the worst way. And as we watched a teary brown-eyed Woods tell the tale of her fall from grace on Red Table Talk, many of us couldn't help but to empathize with a young girl in an unfortunate situation that may not have been much different than the mistakes of our own.

The experience has led her on a journey of self-evaluation and elevation. Everything from friendships to relationships has entered an excavation period as she rids herself of what no longer serves her and makes room for something new. This includes learning to forgive and fall forward.

"It's easy to take advantage of kind people; the world can turn you cold really fast," she says. "I love that I have the ability to not hold onto things and to move forward and to always remain myself and still be able to have love for people regardless of what happened. If God forgives people who have done wrong, I don't have the energy to hold onto people who have wronged me. What I also know is that in life we have the tendency to take things very personally. And what I had to understand is that most of the time it's never about us."

"If God forgives people who have done wrong, I don't have the energy to hold onto people who have wronged me. What I also know is that in life we have the tendency to take things very personally. And what I had to understand is that most of the time it's never about us."

Loss is something that Woods is no stranger to. The loss of friends and loss of loved ones all lead to a loss of innocence that often accompanies the transition of a young girl to a grown woman. Thankfully, she has her mother to help her navigate the world of womanhood. "She always told me when I was younger, 'Don't talk bad about anyone. I don't care if you don't like them, don't talk bad about them.' She always instilled in my mind always keep your integrity and don't speak badly about people."

"If someone is doing you wrong, they're doing themselves wrong and I don't have the energy to meet you at your level," she adds. "I'm going to stay where I'm at and if in the future you want to come to where I'm at I would love to meet you there. But if not, it's all good."

I point out that her vibrations must be sending positive energy into the atmosphere. Earlier this year she posted a photo of her girl group of celebrity friends that had Black girls celebrating the magic of brown-skinned beauties in her comments. "Every girl in that group is really their own person and everyone is so beautiful and individual in their own way," she says. "We can come and have a good time and it's no pressure and no competition. It's a really sweet, positive girl group."

Though she seems to be mastering female friendships, love is still a fickle friend in Woods' world. It slips in and out of reach, often making an appearance in the form of tests. Will she choose the bad boy or herself? "I'm trying to find my Russell Wilson...but right now I've got to hang out with myself for a bit."

Life has taught her that self-love isn't just what you allow in, but also what you keep out. "I think now people have this idea of ownership when it comes to relationships and I am like we are all individuals because personally I don't want to feel like I'm being owned. I don't need you to question me so I think just having trust in your partner is a big thing, and also understanding the idea of you don't own anyone. If it's meant to be, it will be."

"I wish that I got to grow up in the era that my parents did because things were a lot more genuine," she continues. "They didn't have Instagram, there wasn't as much accessibility. If you wanted something you really had to go for it. Now everything is just oversaturated. And love, people have the idea of it messed up. But yeah...I mean," she pauses and lets out of a deep sigh. "That's all I really have to say about that."

"If someone is doing you wrong, they're doing themselves wrong and I don't have the energy to meet you at your level. I'm going to stay where I'm at and if in the future you want to come to where I'm at I would love to meet you there. But if not, it's all good."

If she does find that special one though, we won't know until she's married. She likes to keep her private life private, only giving us a glimpse into what her world appears to be. A necessary move, too, if she is to stay on top of her game as a girl boss. Without the distractions of her personal life overshadowing the progress of her professional one, we're able to witness a young woman destined for stardom.

In December of this past year, she starred in the thriller movie Sacrifice alongside Paula Patton, an experience she said allowed her to observe how to move while on set. "She made everyone feel very comfortable and very welcomed. The vibrance of her personality and who she was and how talented she is was a learning lesson for me without her having to tell me anything directly."

Woods will appear in another thriller directed by Chris Stokes in the near future, though her true aspirations lie in making it to the big screen. She admits that she hopes to one day do films like Black Panther, but in the meantime, she studies award-winning movies (she recently tuned into the Oscar-winning Korean film Parasite) while continuing to add more experience to her resume.

"Even when I started modeling when I was younger, every job is a stepping stone, every job is a learning experience whether it's big or small," she says. "I can learn from everything and sometimes I take jobs that aren't as big just to learn the art of the craft. It's about really learning and growing through every experience. Every person I work with, everything that I do is ultimately for me for growth and to learn from."

A fitness brand and apparel line, a budding television and film career, an upcoming album— is there anything that she can't conquer?

"Well, I want abs," she admits with a hearty laugh. "But that's tricky because the pantry is right here, and quarantine. But besides physical, I just really want to grow in my entrepreneurship and start more businesses and invest. I'd love to get into real estate and just...I have so many projects I'd love to do so it's really just creating a plan, thinking and prioritizing the list, and getting it done."

And we'll be here watching every moment. Not in anticipation of her downfall, but in celebration of seeing another Black girl climb from the ashes and rise to the top.

For more of Jordyn, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image via 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:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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