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Meagan Good: "This Generation Has A lot Of Negative Influences"

Meagan Good is a fighter. No, not the type that’s pulling weaves and throwing drinks on reality TV, she’s been fighting for her career. It’s

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Meagan Good is a fighter. No, not the type that's pulling weaves and throwing drinks on reality TV, she's been fighting for her career. It's far from easy to transition from being a child star to a well-respected actress, and equally as hard to make a shift from a sex symbol to a leading lady. While many young women are trying to set thirst traps on the 'gram, Meagan has naturally mastered the art of seduction. Ask any guy before social media and they'll tell you that she was their “Woman Crush Everyday". Meagan may exude sex, but don't forget, she's also a Christian and married to a preacher! Ironically, she connected with her husband, DeVon Franklin, on set of Jumping the Broom--a film in which he produced as a former executive at Sony Pictures.

In her two decades of acting, the 34-year-old has played in many supporting ensemble roles including Linda Jackson in Anchorman 2, Mya in Think Like A Man (1 & 2) and Kali in Californication. It's now time for her to play the lead. As the former star of the NBC drama Deception, and the TV adaptation of Minority Report on FOX, it's safe to say that Meagan is now within an elite group of actresses that have appeared on network TV including Kerry Washington (Scandal), Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow), Gabrielle Union (Being Mary Jane), Taraji P. Henson (Empire), and Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish) who are at the helm of their own series. Meagan's presence was felt at the Emmys when Viola Davis shouted her out while winning the award for Best Lead Actress In A Drama.

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For aspiring actresses looking at Meagan's career for inspiration, note that she has and continues to choose her acting roles by faith. While it may be tempting to take any and every role that comes across her path, Meagan shares that she's passed on various opportunities that weren't in line with what she's prayed for. This discernment has also helped her to cut off toxic relationships.

She speaks with xoNecole on how her growth as a woman and as an actress, as well as giving insight on what she and her sister are doing to make a lasting impact on students who want to pursue careers in the arts.

xoNecole: In a previous interview you said, “I think most of the damage that happens, especially as adults, comes from relationships that we should've never had or been in, in the first place." Earlier in your career, how did you discern who wanted to be your friend or in a relationship with you for the wrong reasons?

Meagan Good: Pray about every relationship that you allow into your life and you'll receive discernment. The truth is if what we want to do and what we're supposed to do are conflicting, that feeling is what causes confusion. But there's no confusion when you know deep down inside what's the right thing to do; it's just usually not what you want to do.

I went through that a lot in my twenties. There were so many friendships that I wanted so badly. I loved these people so much but the things they would do to me, other people or to themselves, I would make excuses for. I'm really good at assessing why people do what they do, but what I've learned later in life is regardless of the "why" they're still doing those things.

You have to believe and release someone when they show you who they are. It doesn't mean you can't love them. Doesn't mean you can't be there for them, but sometimes it has to be from a distance to protect your own spirit. Look at people's actions and really pray about it, and that's how you'll be able to discern their intentions. When you feel confused, just know it's not what you want to do or it's probably not what you're supposed to do.

With the challenges women of color face with getting leading roles in Hollywood, what validation did you feel when Viola Davis mentioned your name in her Emmy speech?

I cried. It meant so much to me to be acknowledged by someone like Viola, whom I have so much respect for. We all face challenges in this business, especially as Black women. It's been a really long crawl for me to transition from being a child actress to an adult actress, in addition to being in that "sex kitten" role in my early 20s and fighting to be taken more seriously. It's been a really long journey and to hear her say my name really blessed me. To listen to her journey and to know what she's gone through to be acknowledged for the great actress that she is…it's all of our struggles to get out of the box that people always try to put us in.

It's an incredible time for women and minorities in TV and film. There's been a massive shift that we've all been patiently waiting for. I'm a big believer in not complaining about the things that are wrong. Instead, I place my energy into being on the front line of change, having a positive attitude and fighting to see things shift. To be in Hollywood right now and have these opportunities as the shift is coming is incredible.

I loved your NBC show Deception. I was so sad that it only got one season, but it seemed to have been pitted against Scandal. Now we have so many more options of women of color on TV. You mentioned in another interview that you turned down another action role prior to landing Minority Report. How have you learned to wait for the right role instead of jumping at every opportunity?

I pray and read my Bible every single day, I stay close to God because He's what matters the most--everything else is secondary. My career can never give me what God can give me. When Deception initially came to me, I was afraid to do TV because it's a huge time commitment and you'll potentially be playing the same character for several years. And for at least six months of the year you're away from your family in a different state or even a different country.

I had all of these stipulations about what the situation had to be in order for me to do television. When the opportunity for me to star in Deception presented itself, it was everything I said it had to be, so I knew it was God. When it ended, I was very thankful because it created so many other opportunities for me in the process. Deception opened the door for Minority Report as well as my role in Anchor Man 2: The Legend Continues. God wanted me to have those different roles to be able to build a platform where I could be more affective as a Christian.

Deception allowed people to see me in a really different light. At the time I had just gotten married and being away from my family I had a lot of time to grow personally and professionally. So I wasn't disappointed when the show got canceled because I knew God had something else lined up. Similarly with Minority Report, I asked God for certain things within the role and it was everything I said it needed to be. It's a testament to not settling. I trust God so much that even if my decisions don't make sense to other people, I know that God knows what He's doing.

You and your sister, La'Miya established a foundation, For The Greater Good where you developed an arts education curriculum for the Compton Unified School Districts. How do you relate to the kids and what made you and your sister want to go above and beyond a traditional mentorship program?

You can definitely make a difference sharing your story through speaking engagements, but you don't really get to follow up and be a consistent part of their lives. My sister and I developed a curriculum to figure out how we could impact this generation in a consistent way. Growing up in the school systems, you're made to think something is wrong with you because your brain is creative. As a kid, I wasn't super book smart but I had a lot of wisdom. Our curriculum is geared towards the kids that learn creatively. They need to have history, math, science, etc., but it's infused with art and music. It definitely helps keep these students out of trouble and it includes mentorship at the same time.

We wanted to do something that had a lasting affect. We want to expand the reach of the program because this generation has a lot of negative influences. Young ladies are being encouraged to sleep around, do drugs and compromise their integrity. The images that are out there of what you need to do to get guys attention and what you need to do to be valuable are going to lead them in a direction that's destructive. So, we want to do what we can to give students another option.

Featured image by Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.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:
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