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A Spiritual Retreat Led Michelle Williams To Her Future Husband

Celebrity News

Sometimes when you know, you know!


After only a year of dating, Destiny's Child's own Michelle Williams, 37, is engaged to boyfriend Chad Johnson, 40. Revealing exclusively to People, this will be the first marriage for both of them.

So, how did they meet?

A lot of the times, the way to Mr. Right is straight through a Mr. Wrong. The two met on a spiritual retreat run by Johnson himself—he has served as a pro sports chaplain working with teams like the Arizona Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the L.A. Dodgers while also running a nonprofit serving urban youth and their families with spiritual retreats called Elevate International.

After breaking up with a cheating boyfriend, Williams decided that she should practice some self-care. Instead of sulking and drowning in negativity to cope with the breakup, she attended the Elevate International retreat to reconnect with herself and with God.

"I was in a horrible, dark place. I just needed to go somewhere where I could get a message of hope and restoration, rejuvenation — get connected to God."

Connecting with God led her right to Johnson, who was also having a rough time dating and had almost given up on the dating scene altogether. While on retreat, the two certainly seemed to hit it off, but Williams was determined to stay focused on her personal healing process. Plus, she was not trying to flirt with her pastor! Instead, they exchanged contact information and stayed in touch with one another.

A friend of Johnson's convinced him to pursue Williams, and he tried his best right until he thought he got curved! Johnson recalls:

"I tried to roll in with some mac daddy game — and I tried to flirt a little bit and said something like, 'How about you and I connect sometime?' And right away, she texted right back with one word and six question marks behind it: 'Connect??????' I thought she had dissed me. So I was embarrassed, and I didn't reach back out to her because I thought I'd ruined the friendship."

Johnson has got to be thankful that Williams pulled one of the most stealth, confident-in-myself, dating moves by sliding right into his Instagram DMs a week later. Interestingly enough, she replied to one of his Instastories in which he was on vacation with the 15- and 16-year-old nephews he has been helping to raise. And according to Johnson, "The rest is history!"

These two are leading by example by showing that making a solid connection as friends first is not only crucially important, but it's also a highly successful and great way to feel out another person before making any type of strong commitment, emotionally or physically.

Soon enough, social media convos led to late night FaceTime chats, and Johnson added:

"We spent almost three months without even seeing each other, just building a strong foundation on the phone and through FaceTime; it was really built on friendship and communication."

In true pop star fashion, their first date wasn't regular degular. Last July, the pair went of their first real date to a wedding in the Dominican Republic! That is when Johnson decided to really shoot his shot and revved it up to the next level. "I told her, 'I've been looking. I don't want to look anymore. I'm done. My search is over,'" Johnson recalled. There, they shared their first kiss and officially became a couple. Can anyone say first date goals?!

But Williams knew she wanted to continue to do things differently this time around, especially after all the bad luck and bad decisions she previously made in her dating life. Williams opened up by saying:

"I didn't even tell any people I was talking to Chad. I wanted to treat this relationship differently because obviously all my past relationships have failed. I didn't want to talk about another relationship that possibly wasn't gonna go anywhere."

Ladies, I am taking notes! Are you?

And one of the best parts about this pairing is that despite Williams' super-stardom, Johnson makes her feel comfortable enough to just be herself, even if it's a little ratchet.

"What kept drawing me and drawing me at first was I felt like I could be myself. My first name is Tenitra; my middle name is Michelle. I felt like I could be Tenitra: just ratchet, I didn't have to have on any makeup, if I had to have on my hair bonnet — he just made me feel very safe in being myself."

If I can't wear my satin bonnet and watch a little Atlanta Housewives around you, what are we even doing?

But what some of us want to know about this undercover relationship is did he get the seal of approval from Beyoncé herself? Well, not only have they met, Johnson has also met Kelly Rowland, JAY-Z and even Momma Knowles. Ms Tina has said—in only the way she can say it—via an IG caption posted back in September, "This is my newest favorite couple. They are evenly Yoked. A fine young man. A gorgeous young lady inside and out." Consider Johnson part of the Carter family now, honey.

If you're not crying yet, the story of how he proposed will have you grabbing for the tissues! Like only someone of this generation might concoct, Johnson mixed a little of the old with the new and flew to Rockford, Illinois, Williams' hometown to formally ask for her hand in marriage. He involved her entire family and filmed the entire thing, too! On March 21, a year to the day after they officially began dating, Johnson coyly reminded Williams how she dissed him. The playful banter at a Pebble Beach, California hotel led to the ultimate proposal.

On Johnson's cue, the waiter brought over an iPad to the table, playing the video of Johnson asking her family for permission to propose. Of the moment, Williams ecstatically recalled:

"I started weeping and wailing when I see all these special people! Towards the end of the video, something in my head said, 'Pull yourself together! He's about to propose! Stop all this crying!'"

Just like something out of a fairytale, Johnson got down on one knee and proposed with a 5-carat stunner from L.A. jeweler Denis Mahgerefteh. According to People, the ring was special not only for its beauty and its symbolism, but because of what Johnson went through to give it to his bride-to-be.

For 11 years, the pro sports chaplain saved up for the engagement ring. After his 30th birthday, he made a commitment to establish a ring account, and for every month throughout those 11 years, he put $150 away, determined to save for the moment that he made things official with the woman who'd be the love of his life:

"Every month I'd put money into that account; I would just say, 'My wife's coming; this is for my wife.' I did that for 11 years."

Talk about speaking things into existence!

And for those of us still looking for our permanent plus one, the couple reminds us that patience and self-love are the ultimate keys that will manifest that one true love to making their way to us. Williams sums it up by saying, "Don't lose hope in love."

"I do think you should not focus so much that if you're not in love that you get depressed about it. I was in a place where I was like, 'I'm just going to focus on my career and my family and just keep it moving.' I started taking myself out; I started traveling by myself, to the point where I loved being by myself. Just don't lose hope. But definitely be doing what you can do to make yourself a better person for the person that possibly is on the way for the way for you."

Did we just get the secret code to finding our true love? Self-love enhanced by self-care and spirituality, check. Friendship first during the initial stages of dating/getting to know someone, doable. Keeping your relationship on the low AND off of social media while making sure that person is actually going to stick around, got it. Once fully vetted, then bring them around those special people in your life for the final approval, bam!

Congratulations, Michelle and Chad! May your union be blessed with love and laughter!

For the full exclusive with People magazine, click here.

Featured image via Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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

Featured image by Shutterstock

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