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I’m 38 & A 25-Year-Old Made Me Believe In Love Again

I had my fair share of dating fails, until him.

Her Voice

Being a 38-year-old woman who has never been married, it probably comes as no surprise that I have had my fair share of dating nightmares and relationship fails. After every experience, I learned a little about myself. I learned what I can do better, what I need, what I want, what I like, and most definitely what I don't like. Unfortunately that didn't stop me from encountering cheaters, liars, and time wasters. Nor did it stop me from experiencing ghosting, inconsistency, and words with no actions. It all honestly left a bad taste in my mouth and not very much hope in the male species. I was very close to just giving up and living my life as my nephew's rich auntie that travels the world solo.

That is until I met Brandon.

Now, before you start thinking that this is going to be a How Stella Got Her Groove Back story, let me disappoint you right now and say that is not the case here. Sorry, ladies. 25-year-old Brandon is just my friend. We have developed more of a big sister/little brother relationship. However, I learn just as much from him as I hope he learns from me. I met Brandon on Instagram after a mutual friend posted me on their page and he reached out with questions on how to start a blog. From there, we started to talk about everything from fitness, fashion, career, life, and of course relationships. It was when Brandon started talking to me about his girlfriend that I was truly intrigued. Compared to me, he is so young but he has such a mature view on love and relationships.

Brandon probably has no idea the impact some of those conversations had on me and what I took from them. Most are things I've heard a million times before but this time I guess I was ready to receive them. I think the things he said resonated with me so much because they were gentle reminders that weren't forced on me like they had been in the past. There was no arrogance or self-righteousness. He was simply sharing his truth and inadvertently helping a friend too.

Being friends with Brandon has taught me:

1. Don't give up.

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If love is something that you really want to experience, don't give up. It doesn't mean you have to go searching for it but you do have to be open to receive it. Brandon shared that he too dealt with being unlucky in love and had his fair share of let-downs in the romance department but that all changed when he met his girlfriend. It was the gentle reminder I needed that I am not alone in this and that those that have found "the one" only did so because they didn't give up.

2. ​Men have to be "chose" too.

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Brandon told me once that he was trying to be the best boyfriend he could be because he wants to be seen as husband material by his girlfriend. It made me think about how much pressure we as women put on ourselves to be "chose" by the opposite sex. We forget that we have a choice too ladies. We have to choose them to be our lovers, friends, boyfriends and husbands. Don't ever forget that. Take the pressure off yourselves about being "chose" and remember they need to prove to you that they are deserving of you choosing them.

3. Be open.

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I shared in an Instagram story once that I was carrying a pack of bottled water from my car to my building one day. In the parking lot, a guy asked me if I needed any help. I told him "no" and then proceeded to have every single bottle of water fall out of the pack. And yes, the guy was still standing right there. Brandon replied to my Insta-story and laughed profusely but after he gathered himself he told me that the guy could have been the one and asked why I didn't let him help. Besides being used to being super independent, I also realized that I was also closed off to the opposite sex. While it's highly likely no love connection would have been made between me and that guy, Brandon helped me realize that it doesn't hurt to be a little more open-minded when encountering the opposite sex.

4. ​Romance is not dead.

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I remember one time Brandon shared with me that he had to pick up his girlfriend at the airport. Knowing that I practically live at the airport, he reached out to ask me some questions. I was touched by the level of thought he put into something that most think is a mundane task. He wanted it to be perfect, he wanted to be on time, and yep he got her flowers. He told me once that because of all of the amazing qualities she possessed, it wasn't hard at all to do nice things for her. He also told me once that he recognizes the importance of continuing to date his girlfriend and knows he has to continue to be all of the things that made her fall in love with him.

5. ​Everybody doesn't cheat.

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One day, Brandon shared a meme with me that made a joke about cheating. My response was, "Facts." He was truly shocked by my matter-of-fact and negative response. I shared with him how many married men and men that are in relationships find their way into my inbox on a weekly basis trying to shoot their shot. His shock was genuine and also refreshing. I needed that reminder that while cheating is something that I'm sure will go on until the end of time, there are still people out there that don't.

In a world that glorifies the misogyny and disrespect of women, it was beautiful to hear such a young guy speak with such love about a woman. Brandon and his girlfriend are blessed to have found each other and hearing about them through his eyes was the gentle reminder I needed that it's possible for me too. Just like everyone else in the world I have kissed a few frogs (or two) but it will happen…when the time is right because I have no plans of giving up.

Thank you, Brandon.

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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
Sign up

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