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This Couple's 8-Year Love Story Got Its Start On Tumblr

Our First Year

In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take a more in-depth look at love and relationships between real-life couples, married and unmarried with an emphasis on what their first year in love was like. These couples allow us to journey through their love stories with them – the ups, the downs, the triumphs, and the tribulations of what it takes to make their love work.

One look at Rog and Bee Walker will have you thinking the couple were absolutely made for each other.


When you speak with them, you understand the full breadth in the validity of that belief. He is the yin to her yang, she is the rhyme to his reason. And equipped with her bushy crown of hair, his signature fedora, and their mutually impeccable sense of style – the two New York-based creatives are truly one another's match.

Rog and Bee are lovers first and collaborators second, having met in work-related circumstances nearly eight years ago when Tumblr led Bee to an event Rog would be at. She had admired his work from afar.

They started dating soon after and were married shortly after that. Rog even popped the question to Bee on bended knee through a Tumblr ask. And now the Walkers, in addition to a fruitful marriage are putting their love into their work with the collaborative effort Paper Monday. "Since the beginning, we've always to make the work a part of what we're doing," Rog said in regard to the ongoing visual project. "It's the evolution of like our desire to tell stories and to make a space for those stories to live. It's also a space for us to continue to collaborate and continue to tell those stories and to work together and to put our heart, passion, and work into something. It's storytelling and collaborating and working together."

The couple delved deeper into the journey of their love story, how they met, how work comes into play, and ultimately what makes their love revolutionary.

The One

Bee Walker: We spent so much time together in the beginning because we wanted to, and we liked each other, and we just were enjoying each other and enjoying getting to know each other. It was so easy to spend time together. It was just easy to talk. It was easy… easy to be myself. And I felt that he was really being himself. We were just having a lot of fun together, but we were also talking and baring our souls to each other and getting to know how the other person is. At some point, I could just feel it.

Rog Walker: I was going through a period in life where I was just transitioning in culture, transitioning from my parents' culture. And I was going out meeting different types of people – people I've never met before like the most stylish black men – and all these different types of things. So, I think Bee was something – the balance [was] right – like in her personality. Like, I felt like she understood me and understood that that makes a culture because she was also from a somewhat conservative liberal immigrant family, but she's also interested in creative things.

I think we overlook the importance of those cultural connections and that understanding.

With Bee, we were able to connect on both those things and understand like the foundational elements of who we are, but also had like the progressive thought process of how we see the world and how we envision our future and how things are done. For me, when we understand that meeting someone like you that had the mix of culture who can relate, and we could see eye to eye, that's rare. So, I knew this was something that was important and special.

Travis Gumbs

The Best Part

Bee: What I love most about Rog is he has such a consistent and enduring positive personality. Like, he's just on that side of the fence. He's not even aware of the fence. You know there's another way to be and I think that's so wonderful. Like he literally wakes up happy, ready to go dancing, song on his heart. He's like, let's go! Let's do this life thing, which is really good for me. It's just good to be around.

Rog: And I think Bee kind of opened me up to a whole 'nother world. I was born in Jamaica, my parents are very Jamaican as well, so there's like this stern, hard way of loving. And I think Bee is just so soft, so sweet, so compassionate. And she's very, very intelligent. I remember I was kind of intimidated by what she can bring to the table, just from an intelligence standpoint. And she's sweet. I feel like what's underrated is how supportive she is, and I don't think that's a lesser trait because I think I'm better because of her, something I don't take for granted.

Revolutionary Love

Rog: I think a lot of times, people desire love as a concept or as something that's defined by culture or whatever, but when it comes to our love, or like, our relationship, I really see it as revolutionary that it has impact beyond that general concept of Netflix and chill or whatever the case may be. But we do things [where we ask], can we impact life together as a unit and within our partnership? And that's something that I always wanted. We're really taking on our purpose in life and the things that we want to do together. And strengthening one another and strengthening the impact of our individual ties. So, our love being revolutionary is really more so about us being a true partnership that impact the world and like really takes on and tackles our purpose in the world together.

Bee: Marriage in the world is a convention and it's something that people read into and they kind of have a tendency to emulate things that they've seen done in other relationships they've been around relationships in media for example. What I've noticed and what's revolutionary and will feed into that goal is that a partnership between two people is something that [has] never existed before so that's the revolutionary part of our relationship.

I realize it's not a place to imitate things I've seen, but a place where new things grow out of.

No two people just like us have been together before, so the things that come out of our union are new and so, in that sense, the goal for me once I realized that is hand in hand with what Rog said. You know, cultivate a place where we can give out of what's coming from us.

Mentors In Marriage

Bee: Before we got married, we sat down with all of the people that we love and trust to talk about marriage. We did like, sort of an informal marriage counseling with his parents, with my parents, with a couple of other couples that we knew at that time who were really solid and had great families and everything. That was probably one of the best things that we did early on, because we spoke to a good set of people who were like our parents and also people like us, who we aspired to live our lives like. After the fact, I think we both learned that it was wise to talk to each other.

It's prayer. It's talking to God. It's reading.

Those are the things that have really helped us when we need advice and we need guidance.

Lessons In Love

Rog: The most important lesson I've learned is that there's more than one way to be right. I was raised very specific like, this is right, this is how you do it, you do it at this pace, you do it like this. And it's easy to go into the world and judge other people's processes, but it's respecting the intelligence or ability to solve a problem in her own way makes you realize that there's more than one way to be right and to respect the process about other people's processes as well. Allowing other people to have their space and allow my convictions to be my own.

Bee: The most important thing I've learned is that there are so many different ways to have a good life. I've learned that there are so many ways to have a fulfilling and joy and love-filled life. And it can look a lot of different ways and maybe don't have one of those things and your life is still beautiful and full of love and that's the most important thing. That's changed my worldview entirely.

One & The Same

Rog: I'm really big on working with intention, but without expectation. I think together – I know for me and for Bee – it is really an operational purpose. The goal for us is theoretical in a sense. I know we want to be excellent and I know we want to impact people, we want to give love to our craft. Our goal isn't to get anything per se but to be someone or to be the type of person, the type of creative that showcases love and humanity. We really want to tell stories and impact life and culture in an authentic way.

Bee: For me and for us, the goal, like Rog said, is to give to give. Out of that, and to give out of our abundance and get out of our love. Just cultivating those places where we can do that and [have] the ability to do that.

For more Rog and Bee, follow them on Instagram, and be sure to check out their beautiful project Paper Monday.

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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