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20 Lessons In Love That The Women I Admire Showed Me

The lessons in life and love three generations of women in my life taught me.

Inspiration

Growing up, if you asked who my idol was, I'd die on the hill that was my mother. But as I came into my teen years, I found that there was a distinction to be made as there were only parts of my mother that I idolized. It was her ability to survive trauma (not to be confused with overcoming it), her drive, her business savvy, and overall cut throat nature in a capitalistic game that has been rigged. I admire these parts of her and I arguably wouldn't have any of that if it weren't for the parts of her that I find less palpable. Maternal love is not her forte and although it has been difficult for me to accept, I'm starting to realize that it's fine. That I will be fine!

Her maternal love is wrought with survival--it's half-assed love, muddled with fear and anticipation of abandonment from those she loves the most. It's tough love and the breeding of what the folk are now referring to as hyper-independence. It's baggage so abundant it would make a bellhop wince, packed up with trauma and mystified beliefs about the logistics of parenting.

Despite all that I described, I've realized that there is no one idol. In the same way that I feel we shouldn't hold celebrities to a paradigm of perfection, I'm beginning to see this paradigm is unrealistic for any one of us. And a constant setup for failure. There's community in our growth and wellness. No one person can be everything and therefore, no one person can teach us all the things. Especially if they have yet to experience it for themselves. After years of concern that I might never be able to fill the void of the types of love and affection I missed out on in the ladder stages of my life, I realized that it really is a village effort.

There are so many beautiful, strong, loving brilliant women in my life (including my mother) that have taught me the value in loving all sorts of things in abundance and what that looks like. I have woven together with the best of the many women who make up my community and strived to mirror them and their influence. May it be their belief in sisterhood, pursuing passion, or family values. Here are 20 lessons I learned from the mothers, aunties, sisters, friends, and mentors throughout my life.

20 Important Life Lessons I've Learned From Women

Life Lessons on Romantic Love

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  1. Figure out what you can live with and which quirks you absolutely cannot live with...find a partner based on that.
  2. You can't change anyone but yourself.
  3. Your partner should add and multiply from you, not divide and subtract. And vice versa.
  4. Forgive, but don't forget. Both are imperative checks and balances so that we don't make the same mistakes with future romances but also so we don't take our past grievances out in those new romantic partnerships. And even when we choose to move forward in current relationships after mistakes have been made.
  5. Get to know yourself first. Use tools like journaling and meditation in order to bring more introspection.
  6. Men/Women are not necessary, they are accessories. We live in a world where women can be anything including happily single. Gain better understanding of your "why" if you're seeking out the love of a companion because it seems natural, it's likely a response to socialization. So figure out what it really is that you want, you might be surprised.

Life Lessons on Platonic and Familial Love

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  1. Whenever possible you help family…especially your children. This seems like common sense but in the Black community we see it all too often where we're brought up on "tough" love. Parents require children to struggle simply because they struggled to get to where they are and that's not necessary. Nor is it how we achieve generational wealth.
  2. When friendship is authentic, it is healing.
  3. Family are those who you choose.
  4. Coparenting harmoniously and prioritizing the child's happiness is important. Even on the heels of a nasty relationship ending.
  5. Parents are just people with seemingly important titles. Doesn't mean they're good at the job, doesn't mean they're bad at it...they're just doing the best they can with what they have. Which leads me to this…
  6. Family is not exonerated from boundaries simply because you know their history with trauma. You can be understanding without being a martyr. We have our own work to do in this lifetime, so saddling ourselves with the job of unpacking and carrying the trauma of our mamas, sisters, uncles...it's not our job.

Life Lessons on Self-Love and Image

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  1. Set, establish, and maintain boundaries within all of your relationships. You cannot do one without doing the other three. But this is the only way to create healthy relationship dynamics with yourself and within your friendships.
  2. Sometimes it's cheaper to just pay for it. Cheaper for your well-being, peace of mind, etc.
  3. Dream big, dream hard. Your career doesn't have to be practical to everyone. Just you!
  4. Survival and healing are sold seperate. Persevering through trauma doesn't simply mean surviving it.
  5. Black people do luxury. Black people are deserving of luxury. Hell, we are luxury.
  6. We are too blessed to be stressed. As much as people hoot and holler about manifestation being ungodly, this popularized phrase says otherwise. Have faith that even in moments of difficulty, things will work out in the end. All you can do is try your absolute best and know that the Universe/God will meet you the rest of the way.
  7. Take pride in your appearance.
  8. Invest in your wardrobe. As great as fast fashion can be in a pinch, you should start building a collection of clothes that are timeless and can actually withstand time.

Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!

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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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