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Women Heal, Men Hoe: A “Love” Story

Dating

I could have been a hoe.


As a matter of fact, if my memory and mathematical abilities serve me correctly, I was approximately three f-ck boys, two premature heartbreaks, and one motherless childhood away from choosing this said path.

I started dating in college, so when it comes to love and successful dating experiences, my frame of reference is limited at best. During that time, I'll be honest and say that I wasn't the best at selecting the men I gave my time to.

In fact, through a strange twist of role reversal, I did most of the pursuing, which led me to meet my first love; let's call him Zack. As life would have it, I met him through a mutual friend about a month after he had just gotten out of a year-long relationship. He was living up North at the time, so we were just two star-crossed lovers with nothing but space and starved infatuation between us.

His charm and sense of humor made falling for him easier than any of the subjects I was studying at the time, and before I could pick myself up, I was in love.

He was something new.

He was my little secret that none of my associates on campus knew about, just my dad and sister who were annoyed by the time that I spent talking all night on the phone with him. I was consumed by him. He was the first voice I wanted to hear when I woke up and the last one I wanted to hear at night, even when the two merged together.

He was my first everything. Before him, I had no idea the superhuman abilities that love could arm you with, how light and airborne you could feel even with your feet planted on the ground. But even with my newfound superpowers, I was left crippled with the inability to read minds.

Zack had a secret: he was still healing from his previous relationship and I was his kryptonite.

With all of the therapy sessions I committed myself to with him, I was unknowingly assisting him in an emotional suicide. I thought for sure that with enough time and effort, I would be the very thing to put him on his feet, nurse him to health, and have him back on the frontlines of love with me. But the opposite was true.

Only recently did it dawn on me that I was his rebound chick.

I was the vessel used to help him get over his previous girl by getting under, around, and through me.

At the time, I thought, "This is just how love is, this is just what happens when you're committed to someone. You love them through the pain even at the expense of yourself."

I wanted so badly for him to get better, for him to stop talking to me about "her." About what clothes she looked best in, about her pageant days, about her voluptuous physique, about all the guys he fought on her behalf. I wanted those stories to end so ours could finally begin.

I wanted him to see my value, to not refer to me as his "friend" when being introduced to his family on Thanksgiving. I wanted him to put a title on this "thing" we had and make me his girl. But after 10 months of love unloved, I knew my happily ever after would never come from him. So yeah, I would have been a hoe.

Looking back on this, I don't know why I chose to take the high road in my healing process. They say the best way to get over a man is by getting under another one, but that logic never seemed to add up to me.

How was this hypothetical new guy just supposed to swoop in and take all this pain away? What healing powers did his penis possess? How could he possibly save me?

In theory, after I broke things off with Zack, I should have been humping and bumping everything in sight as long as they'd sit still.

I should have had bodies on top of bodies for the sake of my heart. I should have experienced all the dick that my school, town, and the entire Southern border had to offer as long as I did it in the name of self-care. But I regret to inform you that I just didn't have it in me.

I couldn't see myself using another person's heart as a sacrificial offering to my grief.

I couldn't see myself choosing my temporary satisfaction over their long-term pain. I couldn't see myself doing them like Zack did me, whether initially or not. I'm not blaming him, heck, it takes two to tango, but he taught me a valuable lesson in self-love. I had to do the work myself.

My healing process was a one-woman job that only I had the tools to execute.

Maybe not at the time, but certainly in retrospect, I saw that only I could help myself out of the rut that love has placed me in. I had to love me, again.

So yeah, I should have been a hoe. Maybe for just a day, or a week, or up until this very moment, but I decided to heal instead.

*Article originally published on aleyarion.com

Featured image by Shutterstock

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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