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I'm Setting My Intentions To Lead A More Purposed & Fulfilled Year

2020 was about repair. 2021 is for intentional joy.

Inspiration

For many of us, 2020 was the most intense year we've ever lived. Talk about the roller coaster of events: from the pandemic, losing loved ones, jobs, police brutality making headline news and continuous protesting, to an intense ass election year, and finally having a Black and South Asian woman Vice President! Just thinking it through now, 2020 has been a wild year to navigate everyone's emotions and mental headspace. So many people lost their professions that they've been practicing for years and had to learn to pursue other professions just to get by. If there is one thing 2020 has taught us is that we need to be flexible with how life goes; everything doesn't always happen on our clock, and that's OK – God has something better for us to pursue in the meantime.

Adaptability is a trait that everyone has had to pick up one way or another due to life's circumstances. This year has brought so many people together and finally open to reconciliation. If there is one thing 2020 has shown me is to be patient and be intentional. In lieu of this, I've decided to opt for intention-setting in 2021 versus goal-setting. While every goal might not be checked off, the intentionality behind the way I hope to navigate the year ahead will always remain, which in a lot of ways feels more impactful. Keep reading to learn more about the intentions I'm setting for mental health, career, and love in 2021.

Mental Health intentions for 2021

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I don't know about y'all, but my mental health was the most affected in 2020. It's such an odd feeling to have no real control of setting up your future because things keep changing, events keep canceling, and it's such a weird recession that some industries are thriving, and others are failing excessively. Our top tier intention this year is stabilizing our mental; however, that may look like.

If meditating or breathing techniques for 15 minutes a day relieves stress for you, make time for it, don't put it on the back burner. Journaling is a great way to organize and analyze your emotions, get that morning or evening workout in at home; I'm sure we've all set up a little home gym by now. If you haven't sought therapy prior, maybe now is a great time to start.

Mental health professions have recorded this year being a huge increase in anxiety and depression, and many insurances have lowered co-pays or made it free so more people can access therapy.

Career intentions for 2021

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I'm sure 2020 has equipped everyone with new skill sets and being more open-minded on their career intentions. This year has taught us not to put all of our eggs in one basket because we don't know how things will pan out, so you could be working one job, but how are you growing your wealth in other areas? Recessions are one of the best seasons to start boosting your financial literacy, flipping and buying homes, investing in stocks, bonds, paying off debt, etc. I know we would all love to have more social events in our lives right now, but this is a season of diligence, act smarter with less versus having more.

It's a great time for creatives of all areas to start that business they have been dreaming of; small businesses are thriving, especially in the Black market when society finally realized we don't have to just invest in one Black brand; we can invest in several other ones – after all, we aren't a monolith, we all have something different to offer. If you want that promotion, start seeking those online classes or resources to build your skill sets to perform at a higher level at your job.

Just cause life is out of whack right now, don't lose focus, set your intentions, and leave room for grace but stay disciplined with achieving your goals.

Love intentions for 2021

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Everyone, this is a season of reconciliation in every loving relationship, whether it's platonic or romantic. This is a time frame for all of us where we have to learn to forgive our loved ones and talk through things no matter how painful it is. If there is one thing COVID has taught us, no one knows their time, and life is very precious – give people their flowers while they're alive. We have to learn to meet each other where we are versus where we want people to be.

Love is everything but selfish; it's selfless. The more we set our intentions on healing, the more we can enjoy each other's company and the less stress we have from avoiding one another. Put your pride aside to work things out with your significant other, family member, or friends you haven't spoken to in months; it's not worth the fight.

None of us knows what 2021 has to offer us, but we have to stay present and focus on being grateful for what we have now because it could be so much worse. We're so used to having so much; it makes us unfortunate to be fulfilled with the little we do have. We still can't fill our entire year with plans, but we could take it day by day and appreciate what we can do to bring us happiness in the meantime. Life isn't supposed to be predictable, so we have to learn to keep adjusting to make the best of this season based on the doors opened to us now.

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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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