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My 2020 Goals Scare Me

I'm ready to stretch myself beyond what I thought my capacity could be in the form of choosing life goals that terrify me.

Letter From The Editor

The year was 2016.

I was throwing a Reset Your Life event in New York that was meant to encourage attendees to not be afraid to press reset versus settling for a life they no longer loved. Although I sat alongside a phenomenal panel of women, I couldn't help but think, What am I doing here? I need to be in the audience. I need to be the one being inspired.

And then it happened.

Best-selling author and Karma Bliss founder Devi Brown turned to me and said a few words that would change my life:

"Necole, you carry yourself with such humility, that you never stand in the fullness of who you are and say 'look at what I'm doing.' But to change your life…
"It was so successful to stay where you were, but you chose DISCOMFORT. And all of us should be that courageous."

At the time, I didn't understand the magnitude of her words. But today, it has become a key component to my journey.

I could have stayed where I was. Where it was safe…

During that time, I was 36 years old and enduring one of the lowest years of my life. I was coming off of my first year of pivoting from running the very popular celebrity gossip blog, NecoleBitchie.com, to launching what is now xoNecole.com, a motivational media empire.

And the future wasn't looking so bright.

A month prior, I had just told the world in an emotional video titled, "What They Forgot To Tell Me About Leaving A Successful Brand", that I was literally struggling with rebranding, and the headlines that followed made me feel as if failure was looming. I started questioning everything: my decision to publicly and abruptly shut down NecoleBitchie.com, my decision to launch a new venture so soon (while swallowing up my own money and resources), and my willingness to go broke to see my vision come into fruition.

Sitting on that stage, as a former big-name blogger with little in my bank account and no idea when the next check was coming from, was uncomfortable. And feeling like I was failing, while the readers of my old brand watched, was uncomfortable. But I had to live in that discomfort. I had to learn how to survive in that discomfort. I had to learn how to grow in that discomfort.

Looking back, I'd rather live a few years in discomfort, than live a lifetime of suffering knowing I deserved more than the life I had settled for.

Fast forward to present day, and I am coming off of one of the most progressive years of my career. In 2019, xoNecole moved its headquarters to Atlanta. We launched events such as Pajamas and Lipstick - a first to market Girls Night In Experience, ElevateHer - a curated festival celebrating women-owned brands, and the Table of 50 FoundHers Brunch. We also launched popular videos series like Boss Up and ManCrave, and ended the year introducing our Happy Hour Podcast which peaked at #6 on Apple Podcast All Time Relationship charts. As we've blossomed, our readership has quadrupled, surpassing the audience of my former gossip site.

There were features in Forbes, HLN/ CNN and BET.

And we added a few phenomenal women to the team!


We would have never experienced this success had I given up in 2016.

I wanted to share this as a reminder to keep going!

If you are about to make a major life pivot or are switching career paths, just know, it will be uncomfortable, but you have to be willing to live in that space! That's where you are going to build the muscle you need to climb to the next level of your life.

That's where you are going to grow.

I'll end with this:

In 2020, I'm ready to stretch myself beyond what I thought my capacity could be. But this time, it'll be in the form of choosing life goals that terrify me.

I'm sharing them with you for accountability.

I'm committing myself to:

  1. Three Keynote speeches (I am terrified of public speaking),
  2. Be more forward-facing on xoNecole and intentional about sharing my story (the introvert in me is cringing right now…),
  3. Take up space in rooms that make me feel uncomfortable.

Rooms that are filled with Black Girl Magic is where I feel at home and the most comfortable. But it's time for me to use my influence to pull up in rooms where there are people who do not look like me, so that I can be a voice and create more seats at the table for black women.

Now that I've shared my terrifying goals, I'm ready to hear yours. What are three goals that terrify you? The three goals that you know that if you work to accomplish them, they would push you to the next level in your life, career or relationship?

I want to know!

Drop me a comment on Substack (I'm housing my weekly newsletters to you guys there) or leave me a voice message on speakpipe! (I'll return the favor and leave you a voice message back!) You can also keep up with me on Twitter or Instagram @hellonecole.

Let's hold each other accountable and claim that 2020 is the year of tremendous growth, and showing up in the fullness of who we are!

Want more letters like these? Subscribe to this newsletter by clicking here.

Featured image by Tailiah Breon

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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