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These Partners In Life & Love Are Proof That God Makes No Mistakes

"There is no limit to how much you can love someone."

Our First Year

In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between married couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.

Whether it is with our friendships or our partners, God makes no mistake when placing the right people in our lives. For married couple Jamal and Lisa Ford, God was very instrumental in the way they found each other and later found love. Their love story began way, way back in the day when the two were only kids. At nine years old, a young Lisa was attending children's church like she did any other Sunday. To her surprise, there was an unfamiliar eight-year-old boy sitting in her usual seat. As kids, they would meet as strangers, unaware of the love story that would unfold between them years later as they grew into adulthood. It was the start of their forever, but neither of them knew it yet.

After meeting, Lisa and Jamal became friends and would eventually become a couple in 2014. They'd date for six years before officially tying the knot and saying "I do". For this married couple of nearly a year, it wasn't hard for them to see a future together. While Lisa and Jamal knew each other for most of their lives, they naturally had a bond with one another that grew into true love. According to Lisa, marriage is about making your own rules. So the couple makes it a priority to not only keep their marriage fun and exciting, but to also build a legacy together for their family and future generations.

In this installment of "Our First Year", xoNecole was able to sit down with Lisa and Jamal to talk more about patience with one another, facing marital fears, and trusting God as the foundation of love.

How They Met

Lisa: We actually met in children's church. We were both young, aged 8 and 9. One day I saw that he was sitting in my seat. I thought to myself, 'Who is this kid sitting in my seat?' He was visiting the church that day, so I was definitely curious to know who he was and why he chose my seat to sit in (laughs).

Jamal: She's right (laughs). It was my first day at the church and while I was sitting in her seat, I was meeting my cousin there too. My cousin just so happened to be Lisa's best friend at the time. So after church, I went to my cousin's house for dinner and they both still talked about "the boy that was in Lisa's seat" (laughs).

The One

Lisa: We started talking to each other in the summer of 2014 and dated in the fall. I remember telling my best friend, "I wonder if he's going to give me a promise ring soon." My friend thought I was crazy and joked that we only have been dating for a short while. But the reason why I mentioned the promise ring is because I knew he was the one. We started off as friends and gradually became each other's best friend. I just knew he was my person.

Jamal: I knew Lisa was the one because when we were dating I would say to myself, 'I don't see myself being with anyone else.' Thinking about that really made me want to see this through and take that next step with her.

Courtesy of Lisa Ford

"I mentioned the promise ring is because I knew he was the one. We started off as friends and gradually became each other's best friend. I just knew he was my person."

Deepest Fears

Lisa: My biggest fear walking into marriage was that we would get so caught up in a routine and we would forget about the romance. Growing up, I saw a lot of married couples who didn't look happy. I knew I didn't want that to be my story. I didn't want to just settle in a marriage where things became predictable. I always wanted to have that romance aspect in marriage. What honestly helped me get over my fear before getting married was to just get married. Once we were married, we talked about how we wanted our marriage to be and defined certain things for us to do in order to keep our marriage fun.

Jamal: My biggest fear was finances.When I was trying to find a ring for her, I was in college at the time. So I thought about just being able to afford things and provide for her whenever she needed. But Lisa is very driven, so I knew that she would help if we ever had any finance troubles. I trust her and just the nature of our relationship helped me get over that fear.

Early Challenges

Lisa: For me, one of the biggest challenges was trying to balance building a marriage and building a business. I am really driven and once I say I am going to do something, I stick it out. Even if that means me working till late at night. That was hard for Jamal because by the time I'm done working, I don't want to spend any quality time [together]. I just want to go to bed.

Jamal: I know for me, I have been navigating through my mental health. I have PTSD and it can be hard sometimes for Lisa. Before we even got married, she was helping me with it. I feel so blessed to have been supported by her all this time. She has been patient. She would talk me through my different emotions and just be there for me. It's very healing knowing you have someone in your corner when you have a mental health condition. I really appreciate her.

Lessons Learned

Jamal: There is no limit to how much you can love someone. Love is selfless and, in the name of love, you are capable of doing anything for someone without expecting anything in return.

Lisa: My biggest lesson has been loving someone the way they need to be loved. If I am loving you the way I receive love, then it doesn't benefit the other person. So it's important to know how to show up for my husband in a way that he will be able to receive my love for him.

Courtesy of Lisa Ford

"There is no limit to how much you can love someone. Love is selfless and, in the name of love, you are capable of doing anything for someone without expecting anything in return."

Building Together

Lisa: This may sound materialistic, but we want to be the first millionaires of our family (laughs). We are trying to break generational curses and create that wealth. We have seen our parents work so hard and they are still working till this day. We want to be able to help our family to the point where they can enjoy life.

Jamal: We definitely want to help support our families financially, but we also want to help the less fortunate. Really make an impact in the community and bring positive change.

For more of Lisa and Jamal, follow them on Instagram here.

Featured image courtesy of Lisa and Jamal

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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