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This Is How You Can Support Your Friends During COVID-19

If you're friend ever needed your love and support, 2020 would have to be it.

What About Your Friends?

When Michelle Obama shared that being in quarantine had caused her to experience a low-grade level of depression, I'm pretty sure that a lot of us could totally feel where she was coming from. The reality is, no matter how outgoing or introverted we are, this pandemic has definitely tried us when it comes to not being able to engage others (in the way that we're used to) and not going out on the regular, while also trying to figure out how to manage our job, finances, relationships and children (if we're parents). After a while, trying to balance all of this can take its toll.

That's why, it's so important to make sure that you practice self-care right through here, and that you reach out to your friends, just to make sure that they're good. If, when it comes to the latter, you're all about that, but you're not sure how to do it during this "new normal" of ours, here are 10 tips that can make your homies feel loved, encouraged and totally supported as we all continue to ride COVID-19 out.

1. Start Off the Morning with a Motivational Quote

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I'm probably being a little biased when I say this, but since I am such a lover of quotes, I had to make sure this point topped the list. Anyone who's read any of my articles on here knows that I'm not the most succinct person on the planet (don't judge me). Yet that's actually why I dig quotes so much—they're a concise way to motivate, inspire or affirm someone. That's why I say that one way to support your friends is to make it a habit to wake up and text them a great quote; one that will encourage them to start their day off on the right foot. It can make them feel more positive while also making you feel great for being so thoughtful, at the same time.

2. Stay on Top of Their Love Language

As a marriage life coach, I'm a firm believer that one of the biggest struggles in relationships is assuming that the way you want love to be expressed is automatically the way someone else desires for it to be. And you know what? Until a lot of us accept that this way of thinking is more about our ego than anything else, we could get in our own way when it comes to getting closer to those we truly care about.

That's why, not only am I a fan of implementing love languages in romantic relationships, but when it comes to parenting and friendships too. Matter of fact, last year, I wrote an article entitled "This Is How To Apply Love Languages To Your Friendships" to help you better understand how your own friends' love language(s) can be better applied. For instance, while my top one is words of affirmation, a lot of my friends are quality time folks. Since we're not seeing each other right now, they will shoot me a random email or mail me a card and I will set aside an hour to just chat about…shoot, whatever they want to chat about.

Trust me, making the time to even find out what your friend's love language is will make them feel like you are being truly proactive in meeting their relational needs. And proactiveness is a superpower beyond measure in any relationship. It really is.

3. Keep Up with Special Days

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I think it's a Gemini thing that we're super over-the-top when it comes to birthdays. Matter of fact, I don't even observe holidays, so my friends know that, come June 17 of every year, I'm like, "What…is…UP?" However, my friends who also remember that I observe Rosh Hashanah (because Christ was a Jew, right?—Mark 15:2) and make sure to send a special shout-out on that day (especially since it changes every year)? That really warms my soul.

Everyone has a birthday. But most of us have special days besides that. Finding out what your friends' are is another way to take real initiative in the friendship. Plus, since the pandemic is causing days, weeks and months to kinda all run in together, reaching out to your friends, on their special days, can help them to feel like 2020 wasn't just one long—Monday (chile…chile).

4. Do Some Group Journaling

Journaling is dope. If you're not someone who does it on the regular, you'd be amazed by how much it can de-stress you and bring clarity to things you may be internalizing. Well, when it comes to group journaling, basically it consists of people getting together to do it. Everyone can offer up writing prompts (like themes or topics) for each session. Then, a time period is set aside to journal. Once everyone is done, they are encouraged to read some of what they shared out loud and expound, if they'd like. Then their audience (or in this case, their friends) can share their thoughts about their thoughts. Not only is group journaling a way to keep your creative juices flowing but it can help you to show real courage when it comes to being vulnerable with others. It can also help you to be more open to hearing other points of view.

When you look at group journaling from this perspective, who better to group journal with than your homies? You can even get each other super hyped up by agreeing to purchase a fresh journal for each other, while letting it be a surprise what the journal looks like until you each receive yours in the mail. (While we still have the mail. Lawd, get Trump outta here!)

5. Schedule Weekly (or Monthly) Face-to-Face Calls

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Although a lot of us have the mindset that, so long as we see someone we care about like an IG post or tweet something out into cyberspace, they must be cool, there is nothing like holding an actual conversation with your friends. While you might not have the time (or emotional energy) to reach out on the daily, try and schedule a chat at least once a week or once a month. It's the easiest way to catch up and oftentimes the most effective way for people to feel like they aren't out here dealing, alone.

6. Come Up with Your Own Theme Days

Charge it to that Gemini thing if you'd like, but one of my favorite sites is National Day Calendar. You'd be amazed the kind of days of observance are on the books (it's actually where I got the idea to write articles like "Make 'National Bathtub Party Day' Your Favorite Day Of The Year", "'National All Or Nothing Day' Reminds Us That Sometimes It Needs To Be Just That", "Celebrate What Makes You "YOU" On National Inner Beauty Day", "National Girls' Night In Day Is This Sunday. Here's How To Kick It This Weekend." and "Whew, Chile. It's National Orgasm Day!"). Well, who said that you and your friends can't come up with your own theme days? A wine day. A pamper day. A listen to nothing but 90s R&B day. A get-over-our-ex day. The anniversary of your friendship day. The sky is the limit here, but if you add a few theme days to your own calendar, it's something else that can definitely break up the monotony of this pandemic.

7. Send Them Something Thoughtful

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Money is tight in the time of COVID-19. Boy, do I know it. But if there was ever a time when "it's the thought that counts" rings true, it would be during this season of life.

Sending something thoughtful to your friends doesn't mean that it has to be expensive. It can be a scented soy candle for their bedroom. A movie stream to add to their collection. Or shoot, a personalized mask.

I've copped a few myself on Etsy that have been quite the conversation piece when I'm out at the grocery store (which is basically the only place I go these days) because I make sure they all have a Black cultural message. There are plenty of merchants that will personalize a mask for you for under 20 bucks. Just go to the site and put "Black culture mask" or "personalized mask" in the search field to see what tickles your fancy.

8. Watch Movies (or Read a Book) Together (by Video or Phone)

I don't know about y'all, but I DEFINITELY did not think that 2020 was gonna be the year of watching more movies (or re-watching more movies) than my mind can comprehend. I also didn't believe that I would be getting back to chain reading like I did when I was a kid. But here we are. I'm personally the kind of person who prefers to watch and read alone (unless I'm boo'ed up which is a totally irrelevant point at this time). But if you're an extrovert or you've simply gotten to the point where cabin fever has you going insane, something else that you can do is have a virtual (or phone) meeting with your friends where y'all can watch movies or even read and/or discuss books together. On the movie tip, if coins are so tight that you had to cut your cable and streaming services, Tubi is a site that shows movies (and even some throwback television series), in all kinds of genres, for free. There are ads that pop up from time to time but again, since it's free, it's basically worth it.

9. Design Electronic Vision Boards Together

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While "this too shall" pass isn't exactly Scriptural, that doesn't make it any less true. Besides, Ecclesiastes 3:1(NKJV) assures us that, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." So, while it might seem like this pandemic—and all of the fallout from it—is going to last FOR-E-VER, it won't. To make sure that you don't fall into a lethargic way of living your life until you are able to "get back out again", how about doing some electronic vision boards with your friends? It can be a professional one that is focused on careers goals, a personal one that is focused on personal development or even a relational one where you explore what you will do differently once you can actually go on real dates again. The reason why I recommend electronic ones is because they are easy, convenient and a cool way to exchange your visions without having to worry about mailing poster boards back and forth. Plus, doing a project like this can bring in glimmers of hope and excitement on low (or just sheer boredom) days. You can find different apps for this here.

10. Be Their Accountability Partner

An author by the name of Will Craig once said, "Accountability is the glue that bonds commitments to results." While your friends are grown and don't need another mother or proverbial hall monitor for their life, accountability is good in the sense of checking in, encouraging them to keep the goals that they set and yes, even calling them out on their ish when necessary. There are a lot of people out here who are suffering, BIG TIME, during COVID-19. A part of the reason why is because they lack a loving, loyal and compassionate accountability partner. It can never hurt to ask your friends if they feel like they need one. It also can't hurt for you to ask them to be one for you.

Accountability is simply about holding each other responsible. It's an anchor that can keep you and your friends secure until things level back out. Get one. Be one. It'll bless you both.

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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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