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Pucker Up Y’all, Today Is National Kissing Day.

What makes or breaks a kiss? Let's start here.

Love & Relationships

I remember when I had my first kiss. Technically, it was when I was in the first grade. A cute and popular—as popular as you can be when you're no older than 7—blonde cutie pie named Michael lined all of the girls along the fence on our playground and smooched us. Hmph. When I think back on that now, it's a little weird. Anyway, that was the first time a little boy put his lips on mine. Now my first kiss with tongue? That was around 12-13. His name was Loren. It was while we were in New Orleans for a church conference. That kiss was so…I guess, "moving" is the appropriate word that we talked off and on until our freshman year in college.

Moral to the story? No matter what age you are, kissing is pretty powerful because, be honest, you can probably recall your first kiss too! And because swapping spit (relatively speaking) is such a profound experience, it makes perfect sense that there would be an entire day that's entirely dedicated to it.

As far as kissing from a scientific standpoint, I already penned a piece on 15 random kissing facts a while ago. Today, I want to approach kissing from an entirely different angle. Where did French kissing come from? I'm about to tell you. What makes or breaks a kiss? We're gonna touch on that as well. Is there an actual kissing etiquette? Let's look and see.

Hopefully, by the time you're done reading—or at least skimming—all of this, you'll have a new appreciation for kissing and, more importantly, who kisses you.

Let’s Look at Some Different Kinds of Kisses

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Is a kiss just a kiss? Not really. I did some research—including a little asking around—and found out that there are at least a dozen different kinds to choose from. Kisses like ones that are planted on the forehead and cheeks, along with the oh-so-cute (at least I think so) Eskimo kiss (you know, rubbing noses) is about expressing heartfelt affection. When a man kisses a woman on her hands or eyelids, supposedly that shows that he is quite smitten. Earlobe and neck kisses are acts of foreplay (by the way, if you wonder where hickeys came from, we got it from animals. You can read more about that here).

Then there's the French kiss. Where did that term originate? From what I've read, the word "galocher", until very recently, was a slang French word that meant "kissing with tongues". But this kind of kissing didn't actually start in France. The original term was the Florentine kiss; it's what American and British soldiers did when they greeted their significant others when they returned home from World War I. But because we naturally associate the French with being passionate, they get the reputation for coming up with this kind of kissing when, in all actuality, it was us. Salute.

What Makes a Kiss Hot?

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Now that we've broken a few kisses down, let's talk about what makes for an amazing kiss. To me, a kiss where a man holds my face, starts off slow and eventually becomes more intense is hot. A little lip and tongue sucking is great too, so long as he's not trying to remove it from my mouth. Oh, and soft moans. Those too are appreciated. But that's just me. From the unofficial polling that I did, with both men and women, the kind of kisses that feel like a conversation (you know, where both people are paying attention to one another) is pretty amazin'. Saliva needs to be kept down to a minimum. Caressing (even if it's just hand holding) needs to be happening simultaneously. Slight nibbling and sucking are appreciated. Oh, and everyone I talked to described the importance of staying in the moment during a kiss.

By the way, no matter how great a kiss may be, some official polling revealed that half of all men would have sex without kissing (I've asked around about this too and, a lot of men find kissing to be a whole lot more intimate than intercourse); men prefer wetter kisses than we do (I'm thinking that has something to do with, umm, our other lips getting/being wet as well); overall, kissing is preferred before sex rather than after and, the average amount of kissing partners between men and women is approximately the same—14. Hmph.

What Makes a Kiss…Not?

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I don't know about y'all, but the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a bad kisser isn't bad breath (I'm thinking that's a given). It's poor aim. You know, those guys who are either French kissing your nostrils or your chin. Yuck. Some more of my unofficial polling (again, of both men and women) revealed that an overly-eager or lazy tongue (who wants something reminiscent of a dead fish being in their mouth?!), someone who wants to give you as much of their spit as possible, someone who's rhythm is totally off, a hard biter, a tooth-bumper or someone who wants to talk a lot in between kisses are all no-nos.

But out of everything that I heard, what seemed to top the list was a kiss with someone when there was no real connection; that is the epitome of a bad. Like the expected kiss after a date when you're just not that into the person or when you're currently irritated by your partner and they want to "fix things" with a kiss instead of giving you a little time and space to process.

Oh! There was one more thing that a few folks told me makes for a bad kiss. Atmosphere. Kissing in the rain doesn't work if you hate getting your wet. Kissing in public isn't cool if you hate PDA. Kissing on the couch isn't always welcoming if that is constantly a precursor for sex (meaning, don't get into the habit of leaning in for a kiss if it's ONLY so that you can get some). The right setting, the right lighting and the right time can make for a kiss that's very hot—or totally not.

How Long Should You Wait to Kiss Someone?

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Some of y'all probably read this point and was like, "I don't want to think too hard about this because it could ruin the romance." Uh-huh. I hear you. But remember those 15 facts about kissing that I referenced earlier? One of them is that you can get an STD from kissing someone. Plus, kissing exchanges oxytocin between two people; that basically means that it bonds them. What all of this boils down to is, no matter how "casual" kissing may seem on the surface, it actually isn't. That's why you should put some thought into when you should kiss someone new. Oh, and why.

There's no real steadfast rule to this particular point. Just, before locking lips with someone, ask yourself if you want to get closer to them and if they are deserving of being that close to you. One of my high school teachers used to say that kissing is sex with your mouth. I mean, stuff is going into other stuff and there is a chance that you could contract something so, not to ruin the mood or anything but, they kinda have a point there.

You're a big girl and it is your mouth. But just like every other part of you, your mouth is precious. Just make sure to choose wisely, OK?

How to Make Your Lips Unbelievably Soft

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With all of the technical stuff out of the way, I want to end this with just one more point. Personally, I don't care how good of a kisser someone is, I ain't interested if 1) their breath stinks and/or 2) their lips aren't soft. If chapped lips are something that you constantly struggle with, it could be due to too much exposure to the sun (which means you should get a lip balm that has sunscreen in it), constantly licking your lips (the bacteria and saliva combo can dry them out) or being dehydrated.

If you happen to have a handle on these things, but you still want your lips to feel unbelievably soft the next time that you pucker up, start with applying a DIY brown sugar lip scrub (it will gently exfoliate your lips). Then apply some sweet almond oil (you can even add a little honey to it for taste's sake). Or, if you want to give your lips a little extra pampering, apply a mixture of one teaspoon of honey, one teaspoon of mashed-up avocado and one teaspoon of muddled cucumber that's been thoroughly blended. Apply the combo to your damp lips, let it sit for 10 minutes, rinse with cool water and then apply some shea butter onto your kissers for the night.

You'll have the best feeling lips ever. Just in time to thoroughly observe National Kissing Day!

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Article originally published on July 6, 2019

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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