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We Met On Tinder, Had A 5-Year LDR, Then Got Married During Covid

Long-distance gave us space and time to grow individually, which created a strong foundation for our relationship.

As Told To

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.

This is The Keshinros' story, as told to Charmin Michelle.

So, my husband and I met on Tinder.

Internationally.

We were both working in Peru but in different cities. Me, as a chiropractor, fresh off of a three-month stay in Ghana, seeking a new start by relocating to the country. I never saw black people (well, maybe one every four to five months) in Peru so I think this drove me to join Tinder—totally hopeful that I would somehow, someway find other black people. My husband, Ola, is a professional basketball player, landing in my town for a basketball tournament. After connecting on the app, we missed an opportunity to actually meet in person. But as luck would have it, his team was invited to a second tournament in my town two weeks later. After he arrived for the second time, we had our first date where we talked for hours and hours at a coffee shop. This date was different, nothing like I had been used to in the past. Shortly after, he left for Spain—9000 miles away.

But even far apart, neither of us could shake each other. So, we decided to see what was between us.

--

I was born Dominica (Caribbean), but also raised in Miami. Ola is born American but raised in Nigeria. As we began dating, we quickly learned that although we are from different sides of the world, our cultures are so similar (of course because everything began in Africa).

My village in Dominica had no more than 200 people that lived there, so for as long as I can remember, I was a big fish in small pond. I always dreamt big, throwing myself into my education, something I considered as my way to a better life. My family eventually migrated to Miami, which was definitely a culture shock to say the least. I ultimately adjusted, and have lived in the states since.

As for Ola, he is super family-oriented. Like me, he was also partly raised by his grandmother who instilled in him values of honesty and integrity. His first love was soccer but after a growth spurt at age 16, he gave it up and transitioned to basketball. He moved back to the U.S. for college at 18. He's the better cook and a true team player. I'm the small town girl, that's very outgoing and active in my community. Our qualities caused us to naturally gravitate toward each other's energies, which is why our love blossomed.

Back to our dating story, after meeting overseas, our friendship organically evolved over time and we decided to enter an exclusive, long-distance relationship—which lasted for five years (our entire relationship).

And yes, ladies, it was tough at times.

There were times where I traveled to Spain (or wherever he was located at the time), and he would be traded to a new team during the trip. We've spent countless holidays unsure of what was next. We would go months and months of no physical touch. It was very hard. But it was also rewarding.

Wait, did, sis say "rewarding?" Yes, girl. Because it was.

It may sound crazy, but for us, long-distance was great. The first year was tough, sure, but within that time, we built so much trust, which is important. Of course, communication was key, but the long distance? The long distance allowed us space and time to grow individually—thus creating a strong foundation.

And for me, the more I learned to love myself, the better partner I became.

We got engaged May 2019 in Santorini, Greece, with plans for a Summer 2020 wedding. Ola was on his last go-round with overseas basketball, and I was settled in New York. But then...COVID. Because of the pandemic, he was summoned to come home five months earlier than expected, which as we all know, no one was mentally prepared to be locked up in the house for months at a time—especially New York, who was completely shutdown. But it was all a blessing in disguise because our quarantine has been amazing; it's been super fun. We've cooked, we've binge-watched shows, learned about investments. We even joined TikTok haha.

And now, oddly, thanks to the Rona, this is the longest time we have ever spent together in our entire relationship.

--

You know, as a mental health advocate, I've learned the importance of knowing and appreciating where you are in life—and even appreciating the unknown. My husband used to always randomly say to me, "I appreciate you," which is what made him stand out to me. But in order to have my magical love story, in order to get to that other side, I had to be open to an unknown situation.

Ladies, you should absolutely be open to a long-distance relationship if distance is not a deal-breaker for you. And even if it is, you should still at least consider. It's not as scary as it may seem. Long-distance relationships can be the most fulfilling type of relationship there is.

And my advice to anyone that is considering one is this:

Only share this journey with the right person. Ladies, this life is not for everyone. And honestly, I'm not sure a long-distance relationship would be for me, had it been with anyone other than Ola. My husband and I are on the same page, we are truly best friends. We both know how important our relationship is to the other, and we admire, and most of all, respect that.

Communicate. Communication is the strongest form of love you can show to your partner. It's not possible to do this successfully, or in good health, without it.

Build up the woman you are. Love yourself before any person on this earth. It will reflect in your sustainable and key relationships.

Trust. Ladies, you know how we are, but refrain from any of that. If they've never given you a reason not to, trust your partner completely.

--

Today, Ola and I are happily married, taking on this pandemic and doing life, together. We recently wed, in what we consider our mini wedding (we decided to postpone our destination wedding in Mexico, mainly because we have family members who live in other countries, including both of our moms). In the meantime, we wanted something simple, minimal yet beautiful, special, and memorable. We (really, I) picked Central Park because it represented me perfectly. I love the outdoors, nature, and water. We hired an officiant and a photographer for an hour. There was very little planning. Only our immediate family that lives in NY attended (my sister and niece, his sister and dad). There was no reception--we found a nice Italian restaurant near Central Park and we had lunch.

And we were dressed simply as well, him ASOS and me, FashionNova (did not wear white because I already have a white dress from the original wedding day).

It was perfect.

Our love story may be different from what most expect, but its ours. Ultimately, with the pandemic, and with currently living within the same city, we don't know what the future holds. But we do know that having four thousand miles between us, is a test we, without a doubt, can handle.

The Keshinros' big wedding may have been canceled but their marriage is not. They recently wed, and they're inviting you to join them on their journey by subscribing to their YouTube page. You can also follow their black love on Instagram at @ola.nes.

Feature image courtesy of BSM Photography.

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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