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‘Sistas’ Star Novi Brown On The Power Of Emotional Release & Spiritual Baths

Novi Brown talks emotional release, spiritual baths, and other self-care practices that keep her all the way in alignment.

Finding Balance

In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

I hate to break it to you, sis, but you've been living a lie.

All these years, you've been taught that big girls don't cry so you've done it in private. You learned that the key to success is to act out of logic, not emotion so you've suppressed them. But Novi Brown of Tyler Perry's Sistas wants you to know that pretending to be unbothered is not only sabotaging your mental health, but it's blocking your bag.


Tyler Perry Studios/BET

Until my impassioned conversation with the 33-year-old actress, I believed that I was the weak one in my family. As an empath with some serious boundary issues, I can admit that I have let my feelings control my life in the past; but according to Novi, that's not always such a bad thing. She shared, "Ignoring things is what we were taught to do as human beings. And it's the most toxic trait we have. We've learned hide, to not express, to not emote, when honestly, emotions are just giving you information on how to move next."

"Ignoring things is what we were taught to do as human beings. And it's the most toxic trait we have. We've learned hide, to not express, to not emote, when honestly, emotions are just giving you information on how to move next."

Novi, who interprets her emotions as messages from God, explained that this pattern of internalized self-sabotage is more than a fleeting feeling, issa generational curse that needs to be broken expeditiously. She continued, "It's such a complex conversation because we've been taught by the white oppressor, honey. We've been taught how to deal with our emotions by people who don't fuck with us. But us breaking these generational curses means we're moving on from surviving and now we're moving into thriving. So what does thriving really look like [for you]?"

When asked how she stays positive in moments of frustration, Novi simply explained that she doesn't. The actress expressed that as a creative professional who literally thrives on emotion, she holds nothing back when it comes to feeling her feelings. "Baby girl, if I wasn't upset, if I wasn't enraged, if I wasn't sad, then I wouldn't do what I'm doing. If I was not able to cry this morning, I wouldn't be able to go on Sistas and cry. I wouldn't be able to do that shit if I don't do it in my own life." She then asked, "Do you have everything you want? What's the return on investment for not expressing how you actually truly feel? Who are you helping by not being honest today?"

In our conversation, Novi and I talked more about emotional release, spiritual baths, and other self-care practices that keep her all the way in alignment and it wasn't long before our interview turned into a certified soul searching session.

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xoNecole: With the pandemic and global protests underway, how are you handling everything?

Novi Brown: I know a lot of people are feeling sad or whatever, but the black community should really feel fucking liberated. We don't have to hide anymore now. It's not cool to be racist. Now, you will not be rewarded for that. Don't you think God stopped everything just so we can get our shit together? Like, don't you? This is probably bigger than we could even imagine. And look at the conversations, Taylor, at 27, that you're having––that parents' parents' parents' parents died never having. I feel fucking free.

"I feel fucking free."

What is a typical day in your life? If no day is quite the same, give me a rundown of a typical work week and what that might consist of. 

I love waking up early and then walking my dog, Castor Troy, who is my everything. The reason why I got a dog was obviously a spiritual reason but now that I've grown up and I've seen that what I need is to be outside every day. I need to touch the ground. I need the sun to touch my skin. Being outside and connecting with nature is really, really helpful for me, And then I spend a lot of my time researching and studying astrology. For me, astrology is God's first official language. It's the language of symbols and energy and it's super powerful.

And then for most of the day, I'm studying astrology, I am doing interviews, I am doing auditions. I'm also developing TV shows and then I'm going on with my life, just trying to teach people about self-confidence––specifically black women––encouraging and pouring back into the black female community. So that's how my day looks.

What is your nighttime routine?

I'm a cannabis lover, so that's part of my nighttime routine, as well as having conversations, and doing research. I'm a student of life, so I'm always reading some kind of book. Now that you got me thinking about it, I don't have a nighttime routine. I might need to get one, shit. I'm working myself.

"I need to touch the ground. I need the sun to touch my skin. Being outside and connecting with nature is really, really helpful for me, And then I spend a lot of my time researching and studying astrology. For me, astrology is God's first official language. It's the language of symbols and energy and it's super powerful."

When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it?

Organizing is really difficult. Like, I'm not writing down my schedule. A lot of people use their planner and all that other shit––I'm really bad at that. I just go day-to-day because I'm a Cancer rising. Some days are more hectic than others, some days aren't. This is essentially my first year in the business like hardcore and I'm trying to forgive myself and just allow myself to be who I am, which is just a person who just moves with vibes and things. I'm not a schedule-oriented person. And I feel like that's OK.

Do you practice any type of self-care? What does that look like for you?

I think the biggest part of my self-care routine is my spiritual work. For me, that is a foundation and a pinnacle, it's something that I can literally build something on top of. However, I love me a massage, now. I love getting my nails done. And I love getting my hair braided. I love sitting in the chair and having my hair braider do my hair. Or even if I want to do my own hairstyles, I love standing in the mirror for seven hours watching documentaries and braiding my hair. I find something really soothing about it and I can turn the whole world off and just really focus on watching what I want to watch and, and doing my hair and beautifying myself.

"So self-care is really me taking care of my body more and making sure that my body feels as good as my mind because of those things don't feel good––both of them––I can't be at full capacity."

I also do spiritual baths. February 2019, I did a spiritual bath for ultimate love and money. I met my man in April and I got a job in July. OK, look, ancestors don't play. They want us to win. We're just not doing what we need to do. We're doing it the human way. We're not doing it the spirit way. And that's why we feel like it takes so long. But if we're spirited, I'm telling you, your life will change very fast.

How do you find balance with:

Love/Relationships?

I'm very lucky right now because my partner does the same thing that I do. We're in the same business and really understand each other. So I'll be gone for a few months, he'll be gone for a few months and that's our relationship and we respect each other. I really feel like the number one thing is respect in a relationship and understanding that person you're with has their own purpose that is contracted between them and God. It has nothing to do with you. So sometimes we have to get out of our own way when it comes to relationships. I'm just very, very, very, very, very blessed in my partnership to have somebody who's in my field who sees me as an individual who sees me as a person here to fulfill a purpose and he gets to enjoy my company. That's how he sees it.

"I really feel like the number one thing is respect in a relationship and understanding that person you're with has their own purpose that is contracted between them and God. It has nothing to do with you. So sometimes we have to get out of our own way when it comes to relationships. I'm just very, very, very, very, very blessed in my partnership to have somebody who's in my field who sees me as an individual who sees me as a person here to fulfill a purpose and he gets to enjoy my company. That's how he sees it."

Friends?

I'm very blessed in my friendships. I've come to realize now, after my full first year [in the industry], my friends haven't changed at all. It's really just about getting a tribe who understands you and who understands your purpose will understand how you move in life and your methods. They mean everything to me. I want to see them succeed, but they are also very well aware that, OK, she's in this position now she has to make moves so that she can succeed. And then by default, they will succeed.

Exercise?

Honestly, I'm just glad I'm vegan. That helps me a lot by default. I makes sure I eat salad every day. But exercise, I mean, you just gotta be in the mood, shit. You just gotta be in the mood to want to work on your body. And lately, I have not been in the mood. For the last two years, I have not been in the mood to consistently work out. However, because I have a dog, I'm out every single day for hours. And sometimes in my life, I'm a little thicker and I got a FUPA and it's all good. And sometimes in life, I'm a little slimmer. So it's all good, man. It's all good. I'm not trying to stress myself. But I do say you have to move your body every day.

Do you find yourself cooking or eating out more?

When I first became vegan, I was cooking all the time, but I worked in restaurants for so long. I'm a bougie restaurant chick. Like I love being in a good, cute spot with food being delivered. I feel like people should just get paychecks to eat. I love to cook as well, but it is a lot of work. And it's not a passion of mine. It's just something I'm good at. I guess maybe I feel like I'm giving out so much all the time that the restaurant experience, I just feel like I'm receiving. So that's why I really enjoy going out.

When do you feel the most beautiful? 

I feel the most beautiful in the morning, right when I wake up because I'm new and fresh and I'm not painted. I'm not dated. And I feel like I'm mad cute in the morning. I feel like our skin looks really good. Like the skin is nice and the lips might be a little more juicy and puffed up. Your stomach is flatter cause you done digested stuff. So yeah, I love the mornings. All that other stuff is great, but that takes a lot of energy. I like who I am when I wake up.

"I feel the most beautiful in the morning, right when I wake up because I'm new and fresh and I'm not painted. I'm not dated... All that other stuff is great, but that takes a lot of energy. I like who I am when I wake up."

When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?

I have to talk to my friends. I have to talk to somebody outside of my own mind so I could see things more clearly. I go through my emotions. I contact my friends. It's really important for me to get feedback from somebody else, to get another mind, because remember, again, that's God's child. And they might have a message for you that God is trying to tell you, but you're so busy trying not to tell anybody that you miss the message. I have people that I trust enough where I can tell them almost everything. And if I can't get anybody, because sometimes people are not available, I will go ahead and seek out a podcast. I will go ahead and seek out a YouTube video. I will seek out a story of an underdog just to remind you that people will sleep on you––that's just part of the game, but you have to be strong enough to talk yourself out of it like, 'OK girl, you ain't the only one.' This is part of the journey.

For more of Novi, follow her on Instagram @NoviBrown!

Featured image via Tyler Perry Studios/BET

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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