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Tiffany Haddish Proves That Your Situation Doesn't Determine Your Success

Tiffany Haddish

When Tiffany Haddish was 13, she was put into foster care due to her mother's inability to take care of the young actress and her siblings. After a tragic accident left Tiffany's mother handicapped and mentally ill, Tiffany was forced to fend for herself against bullies and predators.


Tiffany's hardship followed her throughout her high school career, where she was virtually illiterate and had to plagiarize and copy the work of her classmates to earn her degree. Fast forward years later and the same woman who couldn't read words longer than two or three letters is now the first black woman to gross more than one billion dollars in the box office.

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Tiffany Haddish is a reminder that we can accomplish every one of our dreams in spite of where we come from. This week's episode of The Red Table Talk featured a candid conversation between Tiffany and Jada Pinkett Smith, who have similar backgrounds. Both actresses were at risk of being trapped by their surroundings and becoming products of their environment, but were faced with very different outcomes.

"I thought I was gonna be a baby mama. I thought I was gonna be a baby mama with, like, five kids, four baby daddies, like, collect a county check."

Tiffany told Jada that after her mom had been thrown through the front window of her car in a traumatic vehicular accident, she or her mother were never quite the same, and her journey would only get harder with time.

"I remember being at the hospital and the doctor saying 'Your mom she'll never be the same you're gonna have to help her a lot more now.' So, she wasn't able to do a lot of things. So basically everything she had taught me up to that point, I was teaching her. But she became very abusive and violent, and never came back to being my mom. She's somebody else."

Although she had to develop tough skin to deal with life after she was put into foster care, you need more than that to become one of the most highly publicized entertainers in the game. That takes heart, and that's something that Tiffany has a whole lot of.

Thanks to the positive reinforcement of adults in Tiffany's life, she was able to overcome the deep-seated insecurity that had been embedded in her since childhood.

"My step-dad he used to tell me 'you stupid', then my grandma would be saying I was stupid and then my aunties would tell me i'm stupid, and then my mama would say I'm stupid. At that point in time in my life, anytime somebody said something to me, I would take it literal that I was stupid. So I didn't really put forth a lot of effort to try to learn how to read. It was difficult already, and if I'm stupid then what's the point? I'ma be a baby mama anyway. I already take care of kids, what I need to know how to read for? I know what hot dogs look like, I know what rice look like and I know how to cook that. I know how to use a measure cup, I know numbers so, it was like to me, not necessary."

It wasn't until a misunderstanding with a co-worker in her late teens that she realized her gift and chose to pursue her passion with rigor despite her troubled personal life. Tiffany told her Girls Trip co-star that her road to fame had not been easy, but every tear was worth it.

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"Everything I've been through has prepared me for this journey."

When we look at celebrities, it's easy to imagine their silver spoons, but Tiffany reminds us that she's not any different from any other black woman in this world who has experienced trauma and disappointment. Her bank account doesn't care that she came from a less than perfect background because she has the hustle to back it up.

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The easiest thing you can do is let your situation determine the height of your success. Although Tiffany suffered through unimaginable horrors, she survived to tell the tale and made a couple of bank rolls in the process.

In an emotional moment, Tiffany shared that her mother was recently released from her mental institution and is now being taken care of by the best doctors. The actress said that one of the best moments in her life was when her mother told her how proud she was. Tiffany knew that she wouldn't have been able to experience that moment if she had given up prematurely.

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In the episode, Jada and Tiffany both mentioned that in their childhood, they were afraid of becoming statistics. Luckily, with the increased number of sisters with degrees and boss business chicks of color, the status quo has changed. Soon, we'll be able to model our statistics around women like these two actresses, who came from hardship and succeeded in spite of it.

Tiffany is a reminder that no matter what your history may be, you are given a new opportunity each day to create a future that's beyond your imagination.

Who's cutting onions in here? To watch the full episode, click here.

Featured image by Giphy

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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Featured image by Shutterstock

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