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OlanikeeOsi Is The Bold, Fearless & Totally Unapologetic CEO Of The SelfishBabe App

"It's OK to be selfish in that kind of way. I have absolutely no problem with it. No one should."

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2020 marks the 20th anniversary of when I said, "Screw doing a regular 9-to-5. I'm gonna be a professional writer!" And although I've interviewed dozens times dozens of people at this point, almost each individual has said something that caught me totally off guard. OlanikeeOsi—yep, that's meant to be all one word—is, by no means, an exception.

As soon as she answered the phone, I could tell that she this 27-year-old was well-spoken, very comfortable in her skin and totally unapologetic about her life—and lifestyle. Yeah, this was going to be interesting. Then add tax. Then add inflation onto that.

What Exactly Was Her SelfishBabe “Trigger”?

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I figured that the best way to get the conversation going was to pick her brain about how the name of her "creative baby" was first conceived. She paused for clarity's sake and then said, without missing a beat, "I think a lot of it had to do with getting married at 19 and divorced at 24." Wait, come again? I heard her right. "It wasn't that my marriage was exactly bad," she expounded. "But I remember sitting on the floor one day and filling out some test papers. My husband felt like I was sitting on 'his side' of the couch and things just escalated from there. I put a hole through the bathroom door and, at one point, he had my hands around my neck," she paused to give a deeper explanation. "It wasn't exactly that he was trying to choke me, but…things just got totally out of control. But I went to school and came back home, totally unafraid of him. But I did ask myself, 'If I had a daughter, would I want her to be in a relationship like mine?' Then I realized that I needed to ask a more important question than that—'Why does it need to be my daughter? Do I want to be in this kind of relationship?"

The answer was "no" and while OlanikeeOsi does make a point to say that her divorce was amicable, she no longer speaks to him. "I'm not angry, bitter or anything like that," she says. "I wish him well and I enjoyed our experience. I just think that was a season and chapter of my life that served its purpose, but he's not a friend. It was simply time for other things." Other things…like…what? We'll get a little more into that in a sec.

The Evolution of the SelfishBabe Revolution

As many of us do when a love relationship ends, OlanikeeOsi began a path of self-love that was rich, rewarding and, for her, truly life-altering in a myriad of ways. While she comes from both a Caribbean and Christian home—a home that is both close and functional, for the most part— OlanikeeOsi is open about choosing a path that her mom (her dad passed away when she was young) has had to do some adjusting to. She gets spiritual readings. She consults the spirits of the ancestors for guidance. A book that she attributes to her growth is Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit by Queen Afua. She speaks of being profoundly spiritual, just in a way that is different from her upbringing.

And something that her own spiritual path has taught her is the importance of being selfish. No, not practicing self-care. Being completely, totally and intentionally selfish.

"You know what I've come to realize?" OlanikeeOsi asks, then answers in the same breath, "Self-love is very selfish. To me, it's more important to do what you need in order to fill up your cup instead of neglecting your needs and trying to fill the empty ass cups of others."

And so, after a few months of getting comfortable with being selfish, the platform, app and podcast (not all at once, but they do all exist now) of SelfishBabe was born. "At first, I was offering products called Goddess Detox," explains OlanikeeOsi. "But then it hit me that just because you use products that may have a self-love theme to it, that still doesn't mean that you love yourself. I needed to do more."

From there came posts called Goddess Habits, but it wasn't long before OlanikeeOsi changed that over to SelfishBabe. "I just thought it was important to get away from the bad connotation that doing what it takes to make you better and happy, even if others have a problem with it…that may be selfish, but it's OK to be selfish in that kind of way. I have absolutely no problem with it. No one should."

Now, with her mission clear, OlanikeeOsi started posting Selfish Truths on IG. She also began selling T-shirts with different "selfish" messages on them. The more OlanikeeOsi did, the more her platform found its voice. Then, one day, the ancestors told her that it was time for an app.

"One day, I was on the toilet and it came to me," OlanikeeOsi nonchalantly explains. "We have phones, we're going to always be using our phones, so why not bypass all of the passwords and logins and provide a way for women to easily access tools for how to love themselves with an app?"

That's exactly what she did. It would appear that between her drive, her ancestors and that quality time in the John, OlanikeeOsi was truly on to something because SelfishBabe—an app that is free, by the way—currently has 150,000 subscribers and counting.

What Can You Expect from the SelfishBabe App?

And just what kind of messages can you expect, whether it's from the app or on her SelfishBabe IG page? OlanikeeOsi calls her messages "fun, jazzy and cool", sprinkled with "colorful language". "There are a lot of platforms that promote self-love, but I had a hard time finding ones that were totally relatable to millennials," OlanikeeOsi explains. "In order for women, especially younger women, to selfishly and authentically love themselves, relatability is important. I talk on my app like I would talk to my homegirls." Is there something I should be reading in between the lines, here? "Not really. But I have had people write and ask me why I cuss…you know, stuff like that. I do it because it's how I speak. I think the realness is what resonates."

OlanikeeOsi says that while the app is for everyone (she does love that it connects so well with Black women, but it's for any woman who can connect with her passion, platform and delivery), she is absolutely not going to shift her approach to cater to others' perspective of how SelfishBabe should be. "We need to really deal with our shit. Again, authenticity is important." Noted. And agreed.

The Evolution of OlanikeeOsi

Photo by Kaye McCoy

I must admit that as a marriage life coach, I was curious about where things were currently on OlanikeeOsi's personal front. You know, if all of the "selfishness" was truly paying off in matters of the heart. It was here were OlanikeeOsi taught me my something new for the day.

"I had a boyfriend who is now my friend and a business partner. Now I have a girlfriend." When I asked her how everything was going in comparison to her marriage, she said, "Great. I think practicing ethical non-monogamy is a great fit for me." That was my second "come again?" in the interview. "It's about not conforming to traditional monogamy, but instead, being open to different people and experiences for different seasons of your life," OlanikeeOsi explains. "It's about choosing not to bind yourself to a false promise that you may not be able to keep and being free to enter and exit relationships as you need." OlanikeeOsi then adds, "Besides. I don't think I'm meant to have sex with just one person, not necessarily even in a relationship. So, when it's time for me to move on or my girl to move on, we will. With love, just doing what is best for us."

Isn't that a little...selfish? I didn't ask that in my head either. OlanikeeOsi lightly laughs and says, "Yep. Exactly. Now you get it. My girlfriend and I are on the same page. We love one another, but not at the expense of doing what's best for our own selves. Yes, that is selfish and that's the entire point." (By the way, I asked her if she thought her divorce played a role in her approach to relationships. She peacefully and emphatically said, "Absolutely not. If anything, my marriage was trying to get me to conform to something, someone, that I'm not.")

I told OlanikeeOsi that although our worldviews couldn't be more different in a lot of ways, I did dig that her sense of self came off as very authentic; for me, that was super refreshing. After chatting with her for about an hour, I don't believe that OlanikeeOsi is offering to others what she's not wholeheartedly believing in for herself. To me, that's dope.

And just where does OlanikeeOsi want all of this selfishness to eventually take her? By this time next year, she'd like to have a million subscribers and for SelfishBabe to be a literal one-stop shop for all things self-love from messages to online courses to…just about anything you can imagine.

And what about the women who may be on the fence about joining up? Well, OlanikeeOsi helped us out by sharing some signs that a membership on SelfishBabe is exactly what someone needs. "If you are trying to fit into other people's boxes; if in your inner circle, you're considered to be 'the weird friend'; if you're super unconfident and always comparing yourself to others; if you're currently unhappy with your life, or if you're tired of always putting other people ahead of you and your needs, you need to become a SelfishBabe. You need to become equipped to live your life for you and do some of the things that either your ancestors weren't allowed to do or gave themselves permission to do. I do it every single day of my life—and I have absolutely no regrets."

For more info on SelfishBabe, check out @SelfishBabe on Instagram or visit SelfishBabe.com.

Featured image by Megan Monique @TheMeganMonique

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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