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'Insecure's Premiere Is A Reminder It Might Be Time To Break Up With Your Molly

Because when Issa said I doesn't rock with Molly anymore, I felt that in my soul.

What About Your Friends?

I'd known my Molly almost my whole life. We'd grown up together and shared the same faith so naturally, we hung out a lot. She was smart, pretty, had tons of friends, and all the guys wanted her. I struggled with my weight, at the time, outside of English my grades were just OK, and I'd been with the same guy forever. In that friendship, I found someone I could laugh with, share good news, and feel affirmed, but that came at a cost. Often, at what felt like the strangest times, she would throw subtle jabs that showed me how she really felt about me.

She'd find ways to insult me with bringing up embarrassing moments and downplay our friendship in front of other people but never enough for me to question her motive. My mother never liked or trusted her, and she'd always ask, "Why do you always invite her places, but she never invites you out with her friends?" But I ignored her like most naive teenagers do because there were still many beautiful moments that occurred in our friendship. We often look at relationships being complicated but so are friendships, especially with childhood friends - it's difficult to love and loathe the character traits of a person simultaneously.

And as a culture I feel like we all but stone each other for giving up on childhood friendships, and we wear longevity like a badge of honor, whether toxicity exists or not.

As we got older, there were several instances where an argument would bring our differences to the surface, so we'd fall out and stop speaking. Every time, she'd find a way to apologize to me and secure her place back in my life but after college, I'd had enough. As I started to playback our friendship, I began to ask myself if it was worth it.

Worth It Questioning GIF by Megan Batoon Giphy

For my twenty-fifth birthday, I wanted to plan a girls trip, but as most Black people will tell you, planning a group trip with us is an extreme sport (and to be fair, the lot of my friends had just graduated and quite frankly, didn't have it). I was all set to cancel the whole thing but "Molly" said, "No, let's go together." On some level, I was apprehensive because I'd already seen our friendship unraveling. After my last relationship ended, I changed in the best way, and boundaries became my new best friend. Those voices that once told me I wasn't enough, it was as if I never heard them again and I started to build a whole new life for myself - that included a career change, weight loss, and a new set of friends and things with "Molly" just became different.

She tried to support me, but there were times where I'd buy a new outfit and she'd laugh and say, "Where you going in that?" or I'd assert myself to someone who treated me unfairly, and her response would be, "Oh you been hanging around me too long I see" as if I didn't have the capability of standing up for myself. By the time we left for our trip, I won't lie, I was lowkey over her backhanded compliments but I still loved her, and wanted to keep our friendship intact.

We went to Europe and saw three countries in seven days, everything about it was beautiful - except our time together.

From the moment we got on the flight, it was clear that the small things that were apparent in the breakdown of our friendship were going to be magnified, and they were. Everything we did, she wanted to micromanage, and I started to feel like I was her child, and not her friend, but after small fights, we moved past things for the sake of the trip and our space because we shared the same room. My birthday came, and it was our last night abroad. We'd been out all day and I started to feel sick, so I wanted to sleep before we went to dinner. She was pissed, and I told her she was selfish, so she snapped. Like past run-ins, the insults came but this time it was worse - she told me she was the only friend I had, that I was broke, and all but said that I needed her. It was as if she said everything to me that she ever wanted to and when I cried, she laughed like hurting me was her mission.

issa rae comedy GIF by Insecure on HBO Giphy

I spent my twenty-fifth birthday in our beautiful hotel alone, wondering why I had even gotten on that plane to begin with. The next morning I checked out at sunrise, and when I left the airport, I told myself I was leaving our friendship behind too. That was two years ago. All those years of friendship - good memories and bad and just like that, it was over, but surprisingly, I've never missed her. Ever. I've learned what healthy friendships look like, and what it means to have friends who support you and hold space for your struggles, and progression. Last year, I ran into her cousin and because our families don't have anything to do with it, I spoke. He told me that it was her birthday (which I already knew) and even though I wanted to respond "fuck her", I said "Tell her I said happy birthday."

Days later, "Molly" texted asking if I'd be willing to grab coffee, but I never responded.

My life is beautiful now, and it doesn't include people who project their insecurities on me.

It took me all these years to realize that I'm "Issa", the girl that doubted her potential, gave her all to the wrong man, and is now evolving into a woman deep down she always knew she could be. That has to be difficult for the Mollys of the world, seeing us start businesses, new friendships, and overall just level tf up. But we don't exist to make Mollys comfortable, we exist to hold space for all the other awkward Black girls out there.

If you're reading this and any of these examples of toxic friendship are triggering for you, it's not too late - consider these steps if you still have a "Molly" in your circle.

Own your part.

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Victimhood is such a comfortable place to reside in, but I've found that accountability is a much better address. In order to forgive "Molly", I had to forgive myself for every relationship that I ever cultivated when I had no boundaries. As we mature, we don't know how to accept the fact that, as Gabrielle Union once said, "Some of your day ones have been hating since day one."

Owning the choices I made and the person she'd been from the start gave me the freedom to wish her well, and still, remove myself from the friendship as well as cut ties with other toxic childhood friends.

Know that your Molly is just as damaged as you are.

To really love someone is to understand the dark parts of their lives and how those experiences have shaped them. In hindsight, it makes sense why she belittled me because on some level, she envied me. While I was always in a long-term relationship, she had never had a boyfriend until college. I never noticed that it bothered her because she always had suitors. But one day she asked me what made men commit to me, and I was left speechless. That conversation made it clear to me that she had voids within herself that our friendship possibly helped fill because I thought the world of her.

Accept the fact that your friendship might be changing, because you're changing.

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After I started working out and going to therapy, my mother told me that I needed to be prepared to lose people. I didn't understand how becoming a better me would impact my friendships but it did, and not just with my Molly. Several friends were comfortable with me not having confidence, and staying in the little box they thought I fit in too. Much like with Insecure, Molly was cool as long as Issa doubted herself with no job and no place to stay. Now that she's securing sponsors and actually has a man that supports her (cuz TSA bae done showed up for Issa more than any other man she has been with), she wants to belittle her accomplishments and call it accountability. Any friend that can't accept the fullness of you (your wins and losses) shouldn't have the privilege of remaining in your life at all.

Let them go, but take the lessons with you.

Walking away from a toxic friendship is just the first step, you need to assess the relationship in its entirety before you move forward, and make room for new friends. I didn't talk to anyone for over a week after that trip. It was imperative that I have time to ask myself why I thought our friendship was unhealthy, and what I'd do differently moving forward.

Embrace the adult friendships coming your way.

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The beauty of being friends with adults who want to see you win, is the room it provides for us to be all of who we are. We're able to show up for each other when we win, be a shoulder when we lose, and remind one another that we're capable of achieving every goal we ever dreamed, and the ones that we dream along the way.

To all the Mollys out there, I wish you healing.To all the Issas out there, set boundaries, don't be afraid to walk away, and forgive yourself because, in case you hadn't heard, the season of our lives and Insecure is gonna be lit.

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Featured image via HBO/Insecure

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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