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Nyja Richardson Shares How Motherhood Changed Her Definition Of Self-Care

Motherhood

xoNecole's Moms Who Inspire series highlights modern-day moms mastering all the tasks on their plate, from day to day responsibilities to ensuring their children are kind, educated and well-rounded human beings. Each mother describes their inspiration, their health and wellness routine, and how they maintain their sense of selves while being the superwoman we all know and love.

"I didn't have an ounce of patience in me prior to having my son. Having a newborn who can only communicate via cries and coos definitely helped me."

Today, Nyja Richardson has three parenting years under her belt and a very different perspective on motherhood from when she first became a mom. The 24-year-old Newark, NJ mom credits motherhood for her new outlook on self-care, strength, and endurance.

Unlike most Black young moms, the full-time social media influencer and content creator was raised vegetarian, so instilling healthy values into her son Nolyn wasn't a challenge. However, once Nyja became a mom she was forced to reconsider how she found balance and inner peace.

On what her mother taught her about health and wellness: "I grew up in a very holistic household. Some of my friends even likened my mama to Erykah Badu because our home always smelled like incense and we were vegetarians. She always instilled in me that you can't do for others if you don't do for yourself. Being able to pour from an empty cup is impossible, and it will not only hurt others... but in turn, you will also be drained literally and figuratively."

On why she became a mother: "I really didn't feel like I had any other option. It was definitely the worst timing ever - I was a senior in college, living carefree with no responsibilities and an 'on again, off again' relationship with my son's father. I felt like the odds were against me, but I knew that everything has a purpose. My son gave me a new life when I gave him life and I'm forever thankful for him."

"My son gave me a new life when I gave him life and I'm forever thankful for him."

On how she starts and winds down her most productive days: "Mornings are never really the same in my home! It really relies upon what we have to do on that particular day. However, we try to start the day with a daily prayer of gratitude and state our intentions for the day. We love to wind down with a nice and hot lavender bath to soak the stress away and get us calm for bed."

On the unexpected challenge of being a full-time social media influencer: "I'm still trying to master the art of balance. I often find work pouring into my home life, especially since I work for myself. Due to not having a traditional 9-5, it seems like my job is 24/7."

On how her definition of self-care has changed: "I remember prior to becoming a mother, I used to associate self-care with spending money: going on a spa day, getting a manicure, repeating affirmations, etc. Granted, they're all a part of self-care but self-care isn't limited to just those things. Right now, self-care for me is putting my child to bed early and getting in the tub with a glass of wine and good music on blast. Sometimes it's just having five minutes of solitude without hearing the word 'MOMMY!'"

"Self-care for me is putting my child to bed early and getting in the tub with a glass of wine."

On growing up while being a young mom: "I became a mother at 21, so I initially felt like I was missing out on things a 'normal' 21-year-old would do. For instance, instead of throwing shots back with my friends to celebrate being able to legally drink, I was breastfeeding. I planned on being a carefree 21-year-old with no responsibilities, but I was blessed with a little person and my interests and desires completely shifted. I lost friendships because I simply didn't find joy in going out and partying anymore. I had to come to terms with that being okay. I'm still the same person I was before I became a mother, just an updated and better version not only for my son but also for myself."

On the mother inspiring her to become a better mother: "I met a mother a few months ago on the subway and we instantly connected. We shared the joys and pains of being a mother. She in particular is very in tune with being active, and actually runs with her kids every morning. I haven't implemented a daily run in my schedule, but I was so inspired by her I set a goal to do hot yoga and mommy and me exercise classes three times a month."

On the unexpected life lesson her son is teaching her: "Patience! I didn't have an ounce of patience in me prior to having Nolyn. Having a newborn who can only communicate via cries and coos definitely helped me. But motherhood is everything to me. I honestly can say I don't know who or where I would be if I did not become a mother."

For more about Nyja, follow her on Instagram @myephiphany. Check out past Moms Who Inspire us by clicking here.

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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