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Sis, Would You Shoot Your Shot?

Is Pride Keeping You On The Bench & Losing At Love?

Her Voice

I came across a post with the question, "Sis, would you shoot your shot?" on The Shaderoom's Instagram page a few weeks ago and was surprised that most of the responses were women refusing to step to men they were interested in.

One comment even included the Bible verse, "HE who FINDS a wife finds a good thing." Admittedly, I can understand how difficult dating might be since the last time I was in the game was over ten years ago. Still, it baffled me that in a world of left and right swiping dating apps, Plenty of Fish, Nev and Max saving love lives on MTV's Catfish, and everything else that has attempted to make meeting the person of your dreams an easier process, some women are still butthurt about not yet landing their soulmate. However, instead of getting in the game, they're benching themselves. It's true:

You lose all the games you never play.

As someone who ended up marrying the last man I shot my shot at, I can attest to the fact that sometimes finding happiness and love is a matter of opening your mouth and making moves to make it happen. When I first met my husband (before I even entertained him being the man I may marry one day), I swear to you that man moved in slow motion, like we were in a nineties romcom like Boomerang or Mo' Money. When I was in my early twenties, I was hanging out one night with a friend from high school doing hood rat things like driving around the city just because we could and getting banana milkshakes from Checkers at 3 AM. At one point of the evening, my friend beeped at and flagged down an old school emerald green Chevy mustang with dark tinted windows. Both cars pulled over and from the Mustang stepped out his former classmate, now known as my husband.

All I saw was a white tank top clinging to his abs and the girl he was riding with at the time step out of the passenger side in some distressed booty shorts that humid July night. I remembered her outfit since apparently, she got out for no real damn reason other than to be seen because she didn't even engage in conversation with my friend. However, my attention was quickly back on Future Hubby because he was sexy as hell, but I definitely remember thinking at the time, 'there's no way he has any swag whatsoever because he's friends with THIS dude.' Don't get me wrong, my friend was cool but there was a reason he had Monopoly hotels in the friend zone for the past six or so years.

Fast forward to months later and we all began regularly hanging out (minus homegirl in the booty shorts who I later learned was just "some girl" he was messing with). We enjoyed exchanging dark jokes, watching and reciting famous lines from cult classics like Menace to Society and Set It Off and before I knew it, I got to know best friend better. Then one day, it hit me like a ton of bricks, "Damn, I think I'm feeling this dude."

At first, it was purely physical attraction as he tried to respect the insinuated boundaries our mutual friend we nicknamed "Friend-Zoned" put forth, hoping one day I'd lose my damn mind and realize the one meant for me was right by my side all along. (Spoiler alert: That clearly wasn't the case and the one for me kept getting tickets for those damn tinted windows damn near up to the day we got engaged). It was on me to make the first move and one day, I popped up at his door without "Friend-Zoned" to make my intentions clear to which he responded he felt the same way, and you already know how that story ended. However, 'till this day I can't confidently say I would've ended up with my husband had I not made a decision to shoot my shot and see where things went. For all we know, he could've been married to "Booty Shorts" by now if I didn't speak up.

Part of me has control and patience issues. I am a firm believer in creating opportunities when it comes to both my professional life and personal life. And sometimes to a fault, I apply the concept that if a door doesn't open for you, you swing in like Miley Cyrus with the help of a wrecking ball and give yourself a garage. At times, my impulsiveness and need for control has led to rash decisions but most of the time, fortune favors my bold moves. When it comes to love and relationships, I often apply the same mindset: The worse answer I could get is a "No." But life is short and a part of risk-taking is rejection, and I've survived worse things than rejection. Unfortunately, I'm noticing a trend where women will avoid saying, "Good morning" to a man they're interested in rather than risk rejection. The thing is, in my experience, most men are not going to shut you down disrespectfully on some, "Naw, I'm good because your shoes are garbage and box braids are my thing."

If a man parts his lips to tell you some nonsense like this, he probably wasn't worth your effort in the first place. I've been literally shooting my shot since high school and while dudes from grade school homeroom carelessly shut down girls they weren't interested in because they cared about getting a laugh from their friends more, most grown men will at least take your efforts with flattery and respond with good old-fashioned manners. Listen, a man's response to your efforts should always be positive, even if they don't return those same feelings and don't always take that personal either. Something else to consider: Not every man out there has the charm of Drake, the class of John Legend, and the swag of Idris Elba.

The only reason many men are so comfortable shooting their shot is because they've been socialized to take rejection and keep it pushing.

Think of all the men who have sent you drinks only to realize you've snuck out the backdoor, or all the dudes who went to text you only to receive a prompt reply from Domino's Pizza. If all men allowed rejection to stop them dead in their tracks, none of us would probably be linking up. If lack of confidence is holding you back from asking that brother with the light eyes and dreads from your Sociology class to lunch, or keeping you from sliding in Jay Ellis's DMs, remember this:

Confidence is not about always about making your shot but knowing you're still the ish even when you miss.

Something else I realized while reading responses to this post was how much dating lacks communication these days. I literally read responses that said, "If I like three of your pics in a row, we go together." With all of the direct messaging, tagging, and video chats that may actually lead up to seeing each other in person, some things are clearly getting lost in translation.

I understand being reserved and even introverted, but we can't possibly have come this far as women and liberated sexual creatures, and still be waiting in a tower for a prince to ride in on a white horse and shoot his shot. I'm all for prayer, having faith, and trusting the process but I also think the pursuit of happiness applies to listening to your heart (and sometimes other bodily organs as well), taking a leap, and going after the things you want.

The thing about shooting your shot is that the more you do it, the easier it becomes, whether you're landing baskets from half court or watching air balls fall before your eyes. And as a last very cliched reminder, having the courage and confidence to take bold shots both on and off the court can sometimes land you a ring, at least in my case it did.

Don't be afraid or too arrogant to get your head in the game, because if you're lucky your #MCM's heart may just follow.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissons@xonecole.com

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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