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7 Women Write A 'Thank-You' Note To The Woman Who Has Shaped Their Lives The Most

...because we give each other flowers now!

Human Interest

Behind every Black woman, there's a group of Black women screaming "ayyyyyeee" and real ones know that "ayyyyyeee" is a love letter in itself. When God created the woman, He knew that we would create boundless magic and that we would empower other women to do the same. Isn't that so powerful? To think, that by you simply being your fierce, feminine self, that you are igniting the fire in another woman. Women are creators in every sense of the word and thank all of the gods for choosing our chromosomes to have this blessing.

Being that we are in the middle of Women's History Month, we wanted to be extra intentional about how we honor the women in our lives who create memories for us. Life is so delicate and gives fleeting moments that we must learn to treasure. So, we asked a few women to write a thank-you note to the woman who has affected their lives the most and this is what they had to say.

​From: Elizabeth Antoinette

Courtesy of Elizabeth Antoinette

To: Mama Shadonna

Dear Mama,

One of my favorite parts about our relationship is you telling me stories about my childhood, and the one that sticks out the most is that of a conversation with my first-grade teacher. Funny, because a lot of people that know me now wouldn't imagine that little Liz was as shy as a turtle back then, but my intellect made me shine in a different way, and apparently everyone wasn't fond of that.

Somehow this teacher didn't know what kind of parent she was dealing with and had the nerve to tell you, "She thinks she can be whatever she wants to be." And you responded to her, "And she can."

There's more to the story that I'll save for the sake of brevity, but I am so thankful for you always standing up for me and my siblings then and even now, through your example of strength and steadfast prayers. You taught us the importance of family, education, and faith, and pressed on us that it didn't matter what we lacked, we could achieve anything we set out to accomplish. You more than proved that yourself when you decided to go back to college and obtain your degree.

So, I'll always think of you to thank for your influence on me as the woman who's affected my life the most.

From: Chassidy Jade  

Courtesy of Chassidy Jade

To: Terri Meredith

I met you at a time when I was really confused about my career. Little do you know, you set me up for life. I came to your poetry events faithfully at my cousin's spot being filled with inspiration from so many creative and strong women. You were the first person to let me touch the mic without the "politics''. Once we were formally introduced, Zombii mentioned I was a filmmaker listing my resume that I was quite shy about. You looked me dead in the eyes and said, "People do a lot of things if she doesn't showcase it herself who cares..." Ha! I crawled into my 22-year-old shell and ate that because you were absolutely right! Work was slow and my writing took a back seat.

You were on me every single week asking me wtf I was doing with film. I went home every night and finished writing my first short film, Brown Ballerina, and named the main character after you. You proudly hosted my first film screening and the film went off to be selected to the Toronto Shorts Film Festival, being viewed all over the world. I also dedicated my art shows to you, which only highlights various female artists of color. You were brutally honest in a loving way.

You re-sparked my voice. You continue to motivate me and so many others. YOU DESERVE YOUR FLOWERS. I am forever grateful for your love.

From: ​Dianne Myles

Courtesy of Dianne Myles

To: Tiara Lucas (My Daughter)

My baby! Thank you for being fearless and unapologetic with your voice. You have forced me to choose what type of mom I want to be. You hold me accountable to my word, and you make me evaluate myself daily. I now understand that as a mom, you teach me as much as I teach you. You are smart, bold, courageous, passionate, and beautiful. You put family first in all you do, and I admire that about you.

Thank you for choosing me 16 years ago, today, and always!

I love you,

Mom

​From: Anita Aloys

Courtesy of Anita Aloys

To: My Older Sister, Liberty

Dear Lili,

I know I always tell you this, but I love you very much! I don't know if you are aware of the role you played in making me the woman I am today or how important your presence is to my life but I want you to know that it is significant. When mom passed, you took me under your wing and nurtured me so lovingly that even though I felt the hurt of losing a mother, I never felt like I grew into my adult years without a mother. I've always wondered how you did it, how you could be so selfless even from thousands of miles away, also while dealing with losing a mother too! I don't know if I say thank you enough, but I am really grateful.

I am so glad to have you in my life because you are a reminder that soulmates exist. You are the best friend I prayed for, the confidant that I never knew I needed and an inspiration in every way.

I am so proud of the woman you have grown into, how happy you are, flourishing in your career choices and about to get married and start your own family! I hope you know how much I love you and that no matter how far apart we are, I'll always have your back and be in your corner.

I hope I see you again soon because nine years apart has not been easy.

Your loving sister,

Anni

​From: Majesty Acheampong

Courtesy of Majesty Acheampong

To: My Mother, Pastor Brenda Timberlake

My mother was the first woman who showed me that it was OK to be bold and unapologetically fierce. Her confidence shaped my life and how I carry myself as a woman today. She never tried to hide or dim her light, Brenda was the light, OK! Her style always made a bold statement, and on any day you could catch her in sequins or a bold hue, even if it was just for an errand or trip to the grocery store. Her makeup was always flawless, and her curls always perfectly coiled.

The best part about my mom is that her interior matched the fly of her exterior. Her warmth and kindness always made an impact on others, and she showed kindness to everyone she met. My mother influenced me to show up as my authentic self at all times boldly and to make a big statement and impact on this world. My mom has been a pastor for over 30 years, so she inspires the lives of others from her pulpit. Although I am not a pastor like her, she has influenced me to use my influence as a content creator for the greater good, so I treat my platform like a pulpit of sorts to empower and uplift other women.

I celebrate my mom today and every day for inspiring me to show up bold and fierce in every way both in person and on social media!

​From: Taylor Baldwin

Courtesy of Taylor Baldwin

To: My Mom

Thank you for literally everything because all this magic wouldn't be possible without you. You gave me life but have gone the extra mile to pouring into me the confidence to be the woman I am today. You made and continue to make sacrifices for your children that I cannot begin to repay you for. Thank you for giving me the room to be myself and create my own path, even when you didn't understand. I am beyond grateful to have you as my mother, bodyguard, therapist, and everything above. I know you worried about me growing up because I was so shy and such a loner but just know that I have found myself in my art.

I hope you know I am truly happy with the way my life has unfolded. A lot of my success and life choices are because of you! Thank you for giving me the room to grow and glow in my dreams.

​From: Dominique Webb

Courtesy of Dominique Webb

To: My Granny, Doris Webb

Sometimes I think I can still smell you. I can smell the rubbing alcohol you used to douse your knees with, and the sweet peppermints you'd pop into your mouth right before telling me to hand you the remote. I miss those subtle moments. Where we just sat together while you rambled on about the neighbors, or whatever mundane thing you wanted to fuss about that day.

I miss you complaining about how my nails were too long or my hair was too long. I miss your teachings. You taught me not only how to be a woman but how to be a strong woman. You taught me the power of being a praying woman.

You taught me the power of being a praying Black woman. You taught me my magic. You taught me how to use my powers for good.

You taught me how to act with poise, speak with grace, but to speak even if my voice shakes. I can never repay you for the things you've taught me. But as you always used to say, "You do good and you pass it on." Thank you for teaching me to do good and pass it on. Thank you for teaching me how to be a strong Black woman.

What a blessing it is to have known you in this lifetime.

I miss you and I love you Granny. Always.

Are you a member of our insider's squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!

Featured image courtesy of Dominique Webb

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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