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What Self-Care Looks Like To Yahoo Entertainment Host Kennedy Johnson

Finding Balance

For xoNecole's Finding Balance series, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

If you ask Kennedy Johnson, she's always been a star in the making.


She recalls vivid childhood memories of her younger self, enchanted by the lights, cameras, and production behind shows like Zoom, TRL, 106 & Park and America's Next Top Model. The latter, specifically, acted as the initial spark to motivate her career path, as well as her 4th grade career day costume inspiration. "I showed up to school with my prompt cards and portfolio as a supermodel, which, looking back really meant that I wanted to be on TV."

Even though Kennedy had her mind made up on what she wanted to become, she still had her parents to convince. Growing up in a household with "9-5 focused" parents made Kennedy's career choice in the entertainment industry a difficult one to take seriously; so she tried things their way. After a short stint at her local community college, Kennedy instinctively knew that college just wasn't the path for her. In turn, she followed her mother's footsteps and for three years, she worked as a front desk agent at a hotel. Still, something inside was calling her beyond her Atlanta roots and into the concrete jungle where her dreams lied.

After being accepted into a performing arts school in New York City, it didn't take long for her to realize that this too might not be the best fit, "When I got there I realized it was a bunch of white kids coming straight out of high school. I was 24 and needed to work full-time. So I dropped out."

It was time for Kennedy to put all of her focus into her craft, so she took a leap. Now, the serial creative has taken full advantage of the stage that social media has created for her. As a YouTuber, model, host of her very own Instagram Live show, Live with Kennedy, creator of the natural hair page, Curlss for the Girlss, and on-air host for Yahoo Entertainment, Kennedy didn't idly wait for her audience to come, she created her own. Confidence is key in the industry of entertainment, and Kennedy's cup runneth over thanks to her mom and faith, "My faith was really the push that made me realize that if I don't have my shoulders back and my head up then I'm not really being grateful for what I have."

With the many blessings and endeavors on Kennedy's plate, how does she maintain it all? In this segment of Finding Balance, we ask this media maven just how it's done:

What does an average day or week look like for you?

Whew, girl. Now that I'm working for Yahoo Entertainment, I go there every morning, Monday through Friday. It's a lot different from my freelance schedule because I created my own schedule. I would get up, eat, record a YouTube video – if I wanted to – or I would just get on Instagram and do videos. Either way, it was about being active on social media, that's a daily thing that I have to do. I have to post on my pages in order to keep up that momentum and keep people interested in my content. Everyday requires that, and physically coming into Yahoo Entertainment every morning.

What do you find to be the most hectic part of your week? How do you push through?

Girl, just trying to get out the house! I'm trying to tell you, I am tired of getting up and leaving my house every day. I'm still trying to adjust to that and the commute everyday – getting on the train, dealing with MTA and their bull. That, every day, is so annoying.

How do you practice self-care? What is your self-care routine?

I don't think that I do intentionally, but there are things that I enjoy doing that I'll make sure I make time for. For instance, I like painting my nails; it's very therapeutic for me. I have to do my hair every day and whenever I do my hair, I have to have a good Netflix show to watch. I really pay attention to what new Netflix shows or movies are out that I'd be interested in watching while I do my hair. For me, those are the simple self-care things that have to be done anyway and I would consider those to be my own personal moments to myself to gather my thoughts. Also when I'm vlogging or on my Instagram Live show called, Live with Kennedy, it's really therapeutic for me to just talk and get things out and share my feelings about certain things.

How do you find balance with:

Friends?

To be honest, I have one best friend. So for me, it's not hard to balance that because I only have one person I have to worry about. (Laughs) Everyone else, I would consider to be great friends, but the type of energy I put into those relationship, it's not the same that I have with my best friend.

Love/Relationships?

Ohh, girl… well… I'm newly single. I was in a four-year relationship with a man who was so great and I will love him forever. He lives in Los Angeles, I live in New York, and it was just hard trying to maintain the type of relationship we had without seeing each other as often. Now as a single woman, living in New York City, I'm just trying to figure it out. I don't really think my man is in NY, I'm not attracted to some of the guys up here. I'm from Atlanta and I just feel like the guys down South just move a little different and I don't have time to be looking over my shoulder every counter we walk by. I'm cool on that.

I feel like it would be a bit distracting to try to get to know someone while you're getting to know yourself. That energy, especially when you get physical with somebody, can be misinterpreted in what type of connection you have with them, and I don't have time for that. I'm not trying to feel like something is happening when it's actually not. I'm just trying to focus on myself.

"If I haven't stretched in a while, I'm going to feel it in my waist walking to work. I just try to be honest with myself and my body."

Exercise? Does it happen?

Look, exercise is cute and I know it's necessary, but one of the blessings that I have received is that genetically, I have a very fast metabolism. I don't have to workout like that, but just in terms of staying in shape, I do like to yoga every now and again.

Health?

Self-awareness is a real thing. I know that if I've been eating a lot of junk, I'm going to see it in my face. If I haven't stretched in a while, I'm going to feel it in my waist walking to work. I just try to be honest with myself and my body. I know that I need a certain amount of nutrients in order to be fulfilled. I gotta have my greens, my water, my fruit, and I have to do that every day. So I'm just being smart, moving smart.

Do you ever detox? What does that look like for you?

I haven't done a social media detox because I don't think that social media affects me in that way. I am on there a lot, but I'm not putting on an act, I'm being myself, and if I don't feel like talking, I don't. I'll post pictures of other things and inspiration. I'm engaging in other ways, so I've never felt like it affected me in a way where I had to completely remove myself from the app. Although sometimes it can be overwhelming, like I'm tired of hearing certain stories about certain folks, but I just don't look at those pages on those days.

When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?

I spend some time with myself. I trust my judgment and my intuition and I can't do that if I'm surrounded by a whole bunch of noise. I also just look at things dead-on, or allow myself to just take a break. Like, I'm not about to get fired from YouTube. One of the things that I've allowed myself to do is live in my truth: I am my own boss so if I don't want to do something, I'm not going to do it. It's a simple as that.

What does success mean to you?

Being able to do whatever the hell I want to do. Working with who I want to work with, talking about what I want to talk about, moving how I want to move, and money not being an issue. To me, that's my version of success. Freedom.

What is something you think others forget when it comes to finding balance?

I think people forget to be honest about where they are in their life. When we're trying to create some type of balance or self-care in our life, we want to go off of this script that we found from somebody else's life story. We try to follow those steps and it doesn't work for us because we're not considering the fact that we have different lives. For me, I always consider my own situation first, then I try to implement what I've seen in other people and see if it works for me, and if not, I just modify it. If you have responsibilities that need to be taken care of, don't beat yourself up because of what you see other people doing, everybody's story is different.

"One of the things that I've allowed myself to do is live in my truth: I am my own boss so if I don't want to do something, I'm not going to do it. It's a simple as that."

For more of Kennedy, follow her on Instagram. And check out past women we've featured on Finding Balance women by clicking here.

All photos c/o Kennedy Johnson/Instagram.

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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