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To His Mistress, Thank You For Saving Me From My Marriage

You came along, dear Mistress, adulterating my holy union with the man I was meant to spend the rest of my life with.

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You entered my world at a very critical point in my life.


I'd just lost my mother to her three-year battle with cervical cancer and recently welcomed my son. It was a bittersweet time in my life. I was looking forward to brighter days because the worst was behind me or at least I thought it was. . .

Then you came along - the mistress - wreaking havoc on my marriage, adulterating my holy union with the man I was meant to spend the rest of my life with. But alas, it would not be so. Trifling home wrecker, you'll reap what you sow, some women just have no respect, are just some of the things my friends said when they found out about you. I'm sure they meant no harm. They were just trying to be supportive of me, because that's what friends are for (singing in my Dionne Warwick voice).

Honestly, they were more interested in you than I was. I breathe a sigh of relief at the opportunity to finally get on with my life. They felt I should have been upset with you, that I should have been angry, pissed, that I should have called you up and given you a piece of my mind. Yes. I had an opportunity that one time I received an email request from you to view photos of my children that you could have easily gotten from my ex-husband. I knew you just wanted me to know that you were there, but I had no quarrel with you. I did not marry you; I did not make any vows with you. In my mind, you were a non-factor. The way I saw it, I could waste my time being upset and laying blame where it did not belong, or I could be a big girl and admit this is exactly what I wanted, embrace it, and fully appreciate my second chance.

In truth, I could not even pretend to feel any feelings of resentment towards you even when I felt I should and that I had every reason to; those feelings just would not come. They were not my truth. Although I feared what awaited me on the other side, I secretly thanked you and would have enjoyed an opportunity to show my gratitude for having rescued me from a situation that I did not have the courage to leave on my own.

Shame on me for staying for the kids.

Shame on me for staying for “stability."

I have no regrets.

You, my mistress in shining armor, were on your way to save me.

Truth is, I knew I was settling for a life that was not the one I had imagined for myself. I had bought into the American standard of someone else's dream. I have no doubt that my stress and lack of happiness was taking a toll on both my marriage and my quality of life. That marriage was destined for an untimely demise. I'm really good at pretending, but how long can the show go on before everything around you starts to fall apart?

Something was eventually going to give but I felt it could not be me because I just thought I had way too much to lose. And maybe I really did have too much to lose, and maybe the Universe heard me screaming for my freedom behind the gates of the cage I had built for myself and sent the perfect somebody to save me from sacrificing myself for what I perceived to be the greater good. I cannot blame you for the destruction of my marriage. One cannot be held responsible for the corruption of something that was already a hot mess in the first place. That is my very own philosophy. The straw that broke the camel's back only denotes a camel that was already under extreme pressure and duress in the first place.

When the highs are so high and the lows equally as low, when the relationship is flat lined, where do you go? I had plenty of excuses to stay and none good enough to leave. They all just seemed so selfish. You gave me a really great excuse! You made this less about me and more about my children, because they deserved better and I could no longer cheat them out of better by pretending that that marriage was the best version of better that I could provide for them. Even I know better than that.

That was no one's fault. There is no one to blame. If ever I did not believe in fate, today was not that day. So with this opportunity, I'd like to say thank you. Thank you for saving my life, and for freeing my soul. My appreciation for the role you've played is truly immeasurable. I cannot think of all that I have accomplished and all that I have to accomplish and all that I look forward to accomplishing without thinking of you and the series of unfortunate events that have brought me to this most fortunate point in my life.

People are often so quick to pass judgement in these situations, and I am not exempt, but you never know what one woman's indiscretions could be saving another woman from. I know there are others who will still say that this does not absolve you of what was done and it is not meant to. All I have to say is God may not forgive you, but you can be certain that I do.

Thank you.

Victoria R. is a sex positive and body positive queer, black writer. Black lives matter; body counts don't. You can find her blogging regularly at prettypinklotusbud.org about feminine sexuality, relationships, and spirituality.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissons@xonecole.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:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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