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15 xoNecole Writers Of The Past & Present Share What The Brand Means To Them

Cue the tears.

Workin' Girl

This week marks something major for the xoNecole brand as we ring in five years as a media company! When it comes to anniversaries, the fifth year is considered a major one. It's a milestone and representative of all that you have weathered through and the blessings you've received. Here at xoNecole, as we look back at the last five years, we can't help but be filled with joy at all we've been able to achieve. With the awe-inspiring Necole Kane at our helm as founder, we have evolved from a website to a fully realized digital destination.

Year-to-year, she has continuously pushed boundaries by leveling up the xoNecole brand in new and innovative ways. From sold-out in-person signature events like ElevateHER and Pajamas & Lipstick, to dynamic social media and video content and launching a top-performing podcast and new membership app, xoNecole has paved the way for what it means to be a brand that truly caters to the amplification of Black women and their voices. And that's where it all begins and ends, through the captivating words of the women who make up our xoNecole team of contributing writers.

In honor of this auspicious moment in time for the brand, the editorial team expressed gratitude to Necole, what xoNecole means to us as a whole, our favorite articles, and our wishes for Necole from today and beyond. Cue the tears!

Shellie R. Warren

Courtesy of Shellie R. Warren

Age: 46

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: Fall 2018-present

Most Common Verticals: Love & Relationships, Beauty & Fashion, Life & Travel, Culture & Entertainment

"This is actually my 20th year as a mostly full-time writer (meaning, I do a couple of other things for a check but writing pays the main bills). I've had a lot of experiences with a ton of platforms. Two of my favorite things about penning for xoNecole is I am able to be completely myself and I don't have to chase a check down. When you've been working in the Black media lane for as long as I have, believe me when I say that both of those are a true blessing. There is a lot about how I see things that is somewhat unconventional in the sense that I've never been married yet I'm a marriage life coach, I write about sex all of the time even though I'm almost 14 years abstinent and I'm profoundly fond of the Bible and Hebrew studies yet I don't go to church. All of this makes me a quirky fit yet xoNecole is like, 'Sure! We'll take it and pay you for it without you having to wait a billion years.' Working for them has been pretty easy-going and gift-affirming, for almost two years now, consistently so, and that is what I wish all people could say about their own jobs.

"Necole has been great at affirming my work. It's not so much that I 'need' that at this stage in the game, but for an EOC to make the time to say, 'Girl, you did that!' or 'I really enjoy what you bring to this space', that is a warm fuzzy that makes me feel appreciated for what I contribute. Necole and Sheriden (the managing editor) have both been pretty consistent in that way; that I am not just a content creator but a valued member of the tribe.

"Necole, I just want to thank you for allowing me to be a contributing voice for your creative baby. I have seen a lot of people talk about how they were such big fans of Necole Bitchie as well, but I actually got truly hip to you as you were making your transition. While this lifestyle platform is wonderful all on its own, it's your stepping out on faith that really moves me. It takes a very bold person to listen to the small inner voice that says, 'There's something better for you out there' when you're already successful. For you to have chosen to listen to it is honorable."

"Creative people come in different forms. You are a living example of that. But for you to take this kind of risk, without a full blueprint, that helps to give other people the courage to do the same. I am profoundly grateful to be entrusted to contribute to your a creative child that I know you hold so dear. I truly am. Thank you. Oh, in the Bible, five symbolizes 'grace', by the way. Embrace all of that!"

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife"

"10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important"

"14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners"

"Why I Named The Children I Aborted"

"Are You 'Waiting On Your Boaz'? Make Sure You Know What That Means, Sis."

Charmin Michelle

Age: 33

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: 2019-present!

Most Common Verticals: "Across the board, but most commonly 'As Told To'."

"For me, xoNecole is the personification of a goal that ultimately manifested into achievement. It has been my teacher, my mentor, my friend. A sculptor to the womanhood ideologies that I wish to project into the world, into my friendships, and to my family. Personally, Necole's journey is...you know, we've watched her evolve. And that's the beauty in celebrating her. She did it, she won! She is literally a walking, dancing, smiling, gem-carrying testimony. How do you thank an actual blueprint? See metaphor.

"Whew, that woman. We were just having a conversation the other day about a post that specifically touched her, and I told her that her team goes out of our way to give her flowers because her impact is bigger than herself. I'm sure she knows this, people say it all the time--but it won't truly hit her until one day when the journey is behind her and she's sitting on her front porch, by herself, retired from this world and immersing herself in the reflection of how she did it. For her to be the face of so much, she somehow manages to individualize her time to so many. Me, her team. Clients. Anyone who reached out to her. She sacrifices so much of her own selfishness for us, ladies. Necole, I just hope that, even in those times when you're frustrated, or you question it, or even when you wish you may have chosen differently, that you know that. I love you, sis!"

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"My Mother Was My First Investor. And This Must Be Normalized."

"I Took A Break From My Ambitions For A Year To Self-Heal"

"The Ups And Downs Of Explaining Complicated Careers To Family Members"

"What It Means To Hold Space For Yourself And Your Community"

"10 Black Women Pulling Up To The C-Suite On The Boards Of Fortune 500 Companies"

Teisha Leshea

Age: 33

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: January 2020-present

Most Common Verticals: "Inspiration and wellness are the bulk of my articles."

"xoNecole provides women with a voice without judgment. It allows women from all walks of life to give perspective on things that aren't talked about. It enables me as a writer to challenge myself and tap into my vulnerabilities. Necole is a real example of what transition looks like. She carved a lane for herself that can't be duplicated. It was original. The fact that she trusts and honors her team is commendable.

"Necole, I just want to say Thank You. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging women to be the best versions of themselves. Thank you for allowing a little unknown writer like me to tell my story."

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"It's OK To Not Want Children"

"5 Holistic Ways I Take Care Of My Vaginal Health"

"Dear Queen: I've Struggled To Love You Correctly"

"Start Your Spiritual Journey Today With These 5 Easy Steps"

"No More Monday Blues: A Prayer For When You Need God's Strength To Carry You Through"

Erica Green

Age: 38

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: November 2019-present

Most Common Verticals: Beauty & Fashion

"I often tell people that Necole's story is one of my favorites. Her story is one of determination, courage, strength, grit, sacrifice, and heart. We live in a world that often celebrates inauthenticity and doing whatever is necessary to stay relevant. So, to see a woman walk away and start over at the pinnacle of her career because it no longer served her or fulfilled her is the most authentic, boss shit I've ever seen. She recognized that she had evolved and had the courage to walk in her new truth. That will forever be beautiful to me."

"I remember the first time I saw Necole in person. It was at her ElevateHer event in 2019. I remember seeing her walk out and stand in the back not too far from where I was sitting. As she looked around at the crowd of beautiful black women who had gathered there because of her, she cried. It literally gave me goosebumps. You see, I stepped out of my comfort zone to attend that event in Atlanta. I drove from North Carolina by myself and only told my parents where I was going. I knew if I invited someone to come along, I would have hid behind whoever I was with and would not have put myself out there like I did. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Prior to attending the event, I knew of her transition to xoNecole so I didn't expect to be so inspired after hearing her story in person. But, it fueled me. It rejuvenated me. It motivated me. And the fact that she looked like me (a black woman) was even more inspiring.

"At the time I had recently started my own blog but was unsure if I should stick with it and really pursue my passion for writing. What I took from her story that day was to do it. Do it even if people don't understand. Do it even if people think you're crazy. Do it even if you lose friends or money. Do it even if you have to do it scared. A few months later, I met Necole again. This time we talked for over 30 minutes about life, being single and dating. She's so easy to talk to by the way. We followed each other on Instagram and as they say, the rest is history. If you had told me that I would one day be writing for such an incredible woman and her amazing platform, I wouldn't have believed you.

"Necole once said at an event I attended that she is so motivated by a line from a Beyonce song. If I remember correctly the song was 'Formation'. Well Necole, I was motivated by something you said at ElevateHer. I hear it every time I doubt myself. Every time I want to quit. Every time I think I waited too long to write and be the type of woman I want to show up as in this world. You said, 'It's never too late to become the person you want to be.' That has and will always stick with me. Thank you for not only giving me a chance to write for your platform but thank you for inspiring me and pushing me to live and show up in this world as my highest self. Congratulations on year 5! This is just the beginning of what I know will be an epic journey!"

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"These Black Plant Moms Are Cultivating Self-Care Through Houseplants"

"Before You Quit Your Day Job, Check Out This Advice From Six-Figure Entrepreneur Pauleanna Reid"

"I Met Him In An UberPOOL & Now We're Married!"

"How To Lower Stress Levels At Work"

"How This Freelance Photographer Manifested The Career Of Her Dreams"

D'Shonda Brown

Age: 24

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: March 2020-present

Most Common Verticals: Exclusive Interviews, "Money Talks" and "Finding Balance"

"xoNecole definitely means a lot to me because the content is so versatile. As a woman in her mid-20s, it's so important for me to find relatable content where I feel as though the writers are my girlfriends and I have a genuine bond with people who are keeping it real with me. As a writer, this platform has helped me grow in unimaginable ways between my editors, my colleagues and even people who have followed my work because of my bylines in xoNecole. It's taught me to really push myself out of my comfort zone and there will always be a tribe of dope Black women there to support me no matter what I write and how I write it.

"I've been riding with Necole Kane since Necole Bitchie. To see her transformation into this renowned lifestyle brand that's bigger than just her is incredible to say the least. I absolutely admire her and it would be an honor to be able to replicate a sixteenth of the things that she's done for Black women. I'm now part of Necole Kane's family that contributes to the growth of Black women everywhere who are always reading our stories about sex, friendships, traveling, mental health and so many other things that show people that Black women are fabulous, we're human and we bleed blood and feel feelings just as anyone else does."

"To Necole: Watching you has been a pleasure and I spoke you into existence. I don't know if you remember, but back in January, I put in my Instagram story (and tagged you) that one day I would write for xoNecole. You reposted me and said, 'Yes, manifestation!', and at that moment, God heard you and myself and knew that two powerful forces wanted the same thing. Thank you for helping one of my dreams to write for xoNecole come true and I look forward to growing with you and your brand."

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

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

"A Peek Inside Tank, The Lover"

"[Exclusive] Justine Skye On How She's Taken Her Journey To Self-Love By The Reins"

"I Said Goodbye To Negative Self-Talk"

"How Black Girl Magic Is Building An Online Community Through TikTok"

Kiara Byrd

Age: 29

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: June 2020-present

Your Most Common Verticals: Inspiration, Workin' Girl, Wellness

"xoNecole means to me that when we come together and empower each other, anything is possible. As a writer, I was lacking inspiration to continue my writing. Because of the xoNecole platform, I have been able to really tell my story and give others space to share their stories too. Watching Necole Kane's story reminded me that, despite the dark days, my story means something. Creating something positive from past experiences is how to gain back your power.

"Manifestation is real. This platform saw my potential in my blogs and gave me a chance to fall in love with writing again. I never considered myself a writer and now I am proud to add this title as a part of who I am. Now I have been able to challenge myself and connect with other writers where we motivate each other to keep our creative juices flowing.

"Necole, you have given me the space to be confident in myself again. I am more than my 9-5 and this platform has allowed me to give life to the creative that has lived inside of me all along."

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"In Order To Evolve, I'm Breaking Up With 'Healing'"

"The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have"

"These Mental Health Advocates Are Empowering Black Men To Take Up Emotional Space"

"Ladies, Here's The Tea On The Best Places To Travel When We Finally Escape Quarantine"

"10 Things Couples Who (Consistently) Have Great Sex Do"

Zoe Hunter

Age: 31

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: 2018-2019

Most Common Verticals: Inspiration & Wellness

"As a woman, xoNecole embodies the many dimensions that accompany our womanhood—so many of us are able to find ourselves in these articles. That's one of the things that keeps me drawn to its content. I find so many different parts of myself on this website and it's beautiful to experience. Similarly, the diversity of perspectives that reflect Black womanhood (and our experience) is beautiful. There is no 'respectability politics' at play here. It is a safe space for us all to exist and be heard. So many of our identities are represented here, and I enjoy that so much for us. xoNecole is a sisterhood, and for me, as a Black woman, that is critical.

"xoNecole gave me my start as a freelance writer. As a blogger that contributed pieces for my own website for so many years, I was always hesitant to call myself a writer. Was I good enough for that title? Did my perspective truly matter to folks outside of my immediate audience? Could I really get paid for this? xoNecole's answer was always yes.

"The site and its editors believed in me since my first submission. Sheriden (the managing editor) saw my worth as a writer before I was ever able to put a price tag on it. Necole made me feel valued both as a woman and a writer. The entire xoNecole team gave me the confidence I needed to consider myself a writer and to pursue other bylines. They gave me a space to share my experiences and perspectives, and to pour into women in ways that I wasn't able to on my own side of the internet. I will always love xoNecole for giving me that opportunity.

"Like many, I started following Necole since NecoleBitchie. Her evolution is wildly inspiring. Watching her exit her former path, to pursue something more meaningful for her...the risks she took in doing so is an unavoidable lesson in purpose. It reminds me to let go of anything that no longer serves me, and to never be afraid to start anew. Necole left everything NecoleBitchie afforded her to step into a fresh calling—and five years later, not only are we celebrating the evolution of this brand (the brand partnerships, the events, the podcast, the community she's cultivated), but we're still celebrating the evolution of Necole as a black creative and entrepreneur. How inspiring!"

"You following your purpose has inspired me in ways that you may not ever recognize. I thank you for sharing your passion with me—with all of us. Thank you for following God's calling on your life. Thank you for taking this risk. Thank you for continually, and intentionally, giving black women a chance. Thank you for honoring, celebrating, and representing the complexities of Black womanhood. Thank you for staying true to this mission. And thank you for pouring so much into yourself, that you're able to overflow unto those you lead. You are a gem!"

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"What Will Smith Taught Me About Setting Expectations"

"Changing The Narrative For Women When It Comes To Love And Dating"

"The Rise Of Hustle Culture & How It Impacts Our Well-Being"

"The Greatest Love Of All, In The Words Of 4 xoNecole Writers"

"For Women Who Feel Like They Have To Constantly Chase What's Next"

Ashley Renee

Age: 32

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: 2016-present

Most Common Verticals: Love & Relationships

"For me, xoNecole is a safe haven for me to express myself, share my thoughts, anecdotes and advice to women around the world. Watching Necole's story unfold has inspired me to never say never, made me want to be more brave and reiterated the fact that it's never too late to start over and life is just a journey, it's up to you to fill it with beautiful experiences.

"Necole you have helped my platform grow, and me grow! The day I got hired as a contributor for xoNecole was the day I decided to quit a job I loathed and have been thriving as a writer ever since. Your journey has been an inspiration to me long before xoNecole and your growth has ignited my fire to keep going! I will always appreciate you for the opportunity and will continue to root for you with every stage you go through."

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"He Told Me He Would Kill Himself If I Left"

"Thank You Ne-Yo: A Letter From A Wife To A Married Man"

"How I Afford To Travel The World Without Breaking Bank"

"August Alsina Speaks On Devotion To Jada Pinkett-Smith: 'I Deeply Loved Her'"

"I Am Not Your Ride Or Die: What We All Can Learn From Keri Hilson"

Shonda White

Age: 38

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: 2015-present

Most Common Verticals: Love/Relationships, Life, Career

"xoNecole helps reassure me that my voice as a Black woman matters. It allows me to be authentically me. The platform allows me to be transparent with other women with the hopes that they, too, will embrace their authenticity, realize they're not alone, and come to know that their feelings and experiences are real and valid. Before I started writing for xoNecole, I wasn't sure if what I had to say was worth saying, let alone something that people wanted to hear. Although I didn't need xoNecole to validate who I was or the gift God gave me, writing for the xoNecole audience and seeing how my words resonated with so many women further confirmed that I had something to say and there were women waiting to hear it.

"Now, more than ever, I trust my voice and the gift that God has given me. I've been empowered because of xoNecole and people like Necole and Sheriden (the managing editor) who helped build my confidence, improve my writing skills, and nurture this gift. To be able to pen and share my stories, as well as the experiences of other incredible Black women, along with many other talented xoTribe writers, is something I do not take lightly. It's more than an opportunity; rather, it's another way for me to be used as a vessel to encourage, empower, and even entertain women.

"I'll never forget when Necole first announced her rebrand, she said: 'If I'm not relevant for the right reasons, I'd rather not be relevant at all.' Nowadays, it's easy to become consumed with being popular, so much so that we miss being purposeful. However, Necole's journey showed me how critical and how rewarding it is to walk and live on purpose - not just for yourself, but for those who are helped and impacted because of it. Watching Necole's journey is a wonderful reminder that purpose is what gives life meaning whether you impact one life, 10 lives, 1,000 lives, or a million. Her journey reminds me to trust the God-given vision within myself even when it doesn't make sense to anyone else.

"Necole's journey makes you really think and ask yourself, 'What am I doing with what God has given me,' and 'Am I using it to help serve others?' Despite everything that she's gone through, her journey is proof that there's power in the pivot, and even though you can't start your life over completely, you can always start a new chapter. Necole has been like a mentor to me, and watching how the site has evolved over the years has truly been a journey. It's a blessing to see how the audience has grown not just in numbers, but emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually because of the stories, expert advice, and experiences shared."

"Personally, I've evolved as a more fearless writer and contributor, and I have even expanded the types of verticals I cover (interviews, events/entertainment, career, etc.). Working with and for Necole has opened up so many doors in ways that I never would've imagined. I proudly wear the xoNecole name as a 'Black girl badge of honor'. I also understand, however, that as the platform continues to grow and as our fearless leader, Necole and her vision continues to grow, I, too, must continue my growth journey. As a contributor, I have a responsibility to help fulfill her vision, while inspiring others to fulfill theirs as well (including myself).

"I'll say this: Necole, please know that the sacrifices you've made and the seeds you've sown (including those unbeknownst to us) have yielded a harvest not just for yourself, but for so many Black women like me. You've given power to our voices. Thank you for giving me a chance, for giving us a platform via your platform, for helping me find purpose through my pain, for teaching me how to trust my voice, and for showing that I am equipped and more than capable of doing extraordinary things."

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"Don't Be A Wife To A Boyfriend: 10 Lessons I Learned When I Was Single"

"What The Ciara's, Cassie's & Karrueche's Of The World Have Shown Us About Moving On & Moving Up"

"What Michelle Obama Taught Us About Becoming More Than Just Somebody's Wife"

"Thank You Beychella: 6 Reassuring Realities Every Woman Should Embrace"

"How Artist Melissa Mitchell Manifested A Groundbreaking Deal With Spanx"

Courtney Simpson

Age: 31

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: "2017, I think. (TBH, it's been a while so not sure exactly when)."

Most Common Verticals: Style/Beauty

"'The world sees you and needs to hear your story' is what xoNecole means to me as a Black woman and a writer. While watching Necole Kane's journey, I saw a woman taking control of her success in a way that I hadn't seen before. The way Necole pivoted in such a transparent way was extremely aspirational to me, especially since I was pivoting myself. By being a part of the xoNecole family, I am inundated in an environment that is challenging, empowering, and supportive. Every step of my career has been helped by the building blocks I've learned at xoNecole.

"Necole, thank you for your vulnerability and willingness to be transparent on your journey. And, thank you for giving me the confidence to do the same. We need more leaders who are committed to leading through honesty and empowerment."

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"#PullUpOrShutUP: Beauty Brands Are Asked To Release Their Numbers Of Black Employees And Execs"

"We Failed Megan. Point Blank And Period."

"Gina Prince-Bythewood On 'The Old Guard' & Creating Space For Black Women In Hollywood"

"How To Use Your Personal Brand To Diversify Your Income"

"The Secret To Leveling Up Your Professional Career"

Shanelle Harris

Age: 26

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: 2017-present

Most Common Vertical(s): xoMan

"As a Black Woman, this site is important and stands out from the rest because it's a space solely and unapologetically dedicated to Black Women. It's a space that evolves as we evolve, as I evolve. With every passing year, my interests and needs change and xoNecole always has content that meets me where I'm at and where I'm going. As a writer, this site gives honest, relevant persepctives from women who look like me and with whom I feel aligned with. It's a safe space to tell our stories, amplify our voices with no reservations or apologies.

"Necole's journey is a reminder that it's OK to walk away from anything that doesnt serve you holistically. Black women are multi-faceted creatures and it's important to surround ourselves in places and with things that help develop, magnify, and celebrate all of that. Necole's journey is also a reminder that people don't have to be onboard with your decision to grow in order for you to evolve. You don't need a cosign, permission, or backing to follow your calling. And that's on period!"

"On a personal level, Necole has always seen and believed in my potential from the very first article I ever wrote. She's consistently been there to provide honest feedback and insight into things when I didn't really understand. She's never been shy about helping me improve and has allowed me the space and extended the grace to evolve alongside her and the xoNecole brand. For that, I'll forever be grateful.

"If I could summarize what Necole means to me in one sentiment, it would be overwhelming gratitude. You see things in people that they sometimes don't rightly see in themselves, never lose that. You are kind, you're a light, and you're dedicated. Never change for anything or anyone, the world needs what you have."

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"Jada Pinkett Smith Wants You To Chill With The Negative Self-Talk"

"Tracee Ellis Ross Breaks Down Her Iconic Style"

"Luke James On Love, Intimacy & Who He Is As A Lover"

"A Peak Inside Tank, The Lover"

"Why I Stopped Answering The Body Count Question"

Dayana Preval

Courtesy of Dayana Preval

Age: 27

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: December 2019-present

Most Common Verticals: "I live in the Life & Travel section. I'm all about sharing personal stories and motivating the next woman."

"xoNecole means so much to me because as a Black woman, I feel seen. I love that xoNecole doesn't limit the narrative and the beauty of Black women. I don't have to fit into the box that society wants Black women to fit in so badly. xoNecole also helped with my courage to tap into my own voice as a writer. It's beautiful to see how women are healing and relating to my content because I decided to be vulnerable and in return, I get to help others. There's no better feeling than knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of black women with my words. I'm so grateful to be a part of this sisterhood.

"Necole is the perfect example of going all in and following your heart. Necole has helped me to realize that I'm not crazy for following my own dream. To see Necole being the Black woman she is and accomplishing what she has is admirable. It's a reminder that it's OK to go all in and invest in myself. I get the pleasure to chat with Necole often and I've learned so much about from her about gratitude, putting people first, and more. Working for xoNecole has been a blessing in many ways. It's challenged me to continuously find new ways to connect with Black women. It's also been a saving grace because, for the first time, I'm experiencing a work culture that I truly enjoy.

"Necole is such a beautiful and genuine soul. I've had the pleasure of getting to know Necole personally and I'm so grateful. Necole has so much knowledge and life experience and you can tell she's passionate about people. Her energy is so pure and loving. Her level of transparency makes it very easy to love her because she's not judgemental and she cares. Necole has made such a positive impact for Black women in media. I'm so excited to see how she continues to grow."

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"Here's What's Blocking You From Manifesting"

"How To Maintain Your Mental Health & Sustain Healthy Friendships At The Same Time"

"From Dropout To Self-Made Entreprenuer, Pauleanna Reid Paved A Lane All Her Own"

"How To Practice Social Media Self-Care & Keep Your Peace"

"Are You Good Sis? We Need To Discuss Black Women & Suicide"

Amer-Marie Woods

Age: 34

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: 2019-present

Most Common Verticals: Travel, Life & Travel, Politics

"Honestly, the xoNecole brand has been extremely instrumental in amplifying my voice at a time when I was going through a major life transition. xoNecole provided me a space to redefine how I use that new voice to impact other women. Especially Black women. There are very few internet publications that allow Black women to tell multidimensional stories but xoNecole created a safe space for our authenticity. This is a brand that celebrates and uplifts the unique excellence that is Black women. I couldn't be more grateful for an opportunity to be a new writer, podcast host and content creator while being embraced by the xoNecole tribe.

"What sticks out most to me is not necessarily the pivot but the rebuild. People always praise the pivot but they don't give the rebuild the respect it deserves. It takes a lot of patience to rebuild something from the ground up and even more to become successful. Doing it twice is unimaginable. So the biggest lesson I learned from Necole's journey is how to have tenacity and perseverance. Anyone can change directions but it takes a leader to be able to drive an entire company to the next level. That requires an extreme sense of self and confidence that most people lack. Watching it in real time grow to a success is a lesson you can't learn anywhere else. It gives me the confidence to go out and conquer the ideas that I think are the wildest knowing that another woman who looks like me and is like me has already done it successfully."

"My work on the platform has transformed from writing travel content to political journalism to podcasting. These are absolutely opportunities that no one else would have offered me, especially being new to media. Necole had the foresight and vision to see what I was not able to see in myself. She empowered me to be able to create the work that I was not sure I was capable of doing. Being new to anything can be a scary journey, Necole made sure that I was uplifted and supported. This ultimately gave me the confidence I needed to continue develop. That in itself is invaluable. There are a lot of people who are scared to share the knowledge they have in fear that someone else may take what they have created. Necole exudes leadership in a very different way by giving those around her an opportunity to shine."

"Necole, you are probably one of the strongest people I know. You have lived a lot of life and you have navigated it fiercely. There were so many things that were stacked against you and you could have easily given up on your dreams. However, you wanted so much more for yourself and you went after it fearlessly. You have inspired so many women to be authentically themselves and chase after the things that scare them the most. Thank you for sharing that gift with so many of us. You have a very big heart and an incredibly kind spirit that is uncommon to find in most people. There is no telling how many lives you have saved, how many hearts and minds you have touched but thank you for doing this work. Thank you for using your voice, thank you for being an inspiration, thank you for being you, and thank you for being my friend. Cheers lady, you deserve it!"

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"I don't have any favorite articles, I enjoy the content as a whole body of work. Each piece is a vibe that I need to celebrate myself and the women around me who mean the most."

Jamie Harrison

Age: 31

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: May 2019 - present

Most Common Verticals: Love & Relationships and Career

"Growing up, I always aspired to write for a publication that caters to Black women. Representation is very important for women of color and xoNecole celebrates the sheer essence of Black women. xoNecole shines a light, unlike any other, on the beauty, the class and the versatility of the Black woman. I appreciate being able to contribute to this site and I thoroughly enjoy reading articles from other writers!

"Learning about Necole's strength, resilience and tenacity inspires me as a creator and a Black woman. It shows that you can do anything that you put your mind to! I'm grateful that Necole has created a safe and welcoming space for me and other Black women. As a content creator, it's refreshing to have a platform where Black women can be their true selves – and I'm even more grateful to be a part of that!

"Even though I haven't met Necole personally, I love her focus on hard work, determination and mental wellness. Her remarkable journey of rebuilding and rebranding motivates me to continue striving for my goals, put faith over fear and to shoot for the stars – even if I'm a little scared!"

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"xoNecole Founder Necole Kane On How Bodybuilding Helped Her Battle Depression"

"What We Tend To Get Wrong About Finding Mr. Right"

"The Fundamentals Of Self-Care When You're Young, Black & Woke"

"Eating Well: 10 Foods That Can Improve Your Mental Health"

"I Got A Sugar Wax & The Results Had Me Shook"

Sheriden Chanel

Age: 29

Time Spent Writing for xoNecole: "2015 - present. I write very occassionally now since transitioning from writer to managing editor but I'm always happy to get in where I fit in."

Most Common Verticals: Love & Relationships, Sex, I Tried It

"I remember exactly where I was 5 years ago when I first received an email from Necole Kane. As a fan of celebrity gossip and the infamous comment section, Necole Bitchie was a constant read for me, so to receive an email from Necole in my inbox was the life-affirming message that I needed from God and the Universe that this is what I've been put on this earth to do. To pen evolved from a passion into my purpose and a lot of that is thanks to her and her decision to take a chance on me in the midst of her taking one of the biggest chances of her life, starting over from scratch and building an empire that she didn't tolerate for the money and the fame, but something that too spoke to her purpose. xoNecole has been a blessing, a refuge, a gift, a solace, an inspiration, my heartbeat, and a lifeline. It has singlehandedly acted as the catalyst to some of my wildest dreams.

"What's more than a dream fully realized is that xoNecole has helped me tap into a sense of community I had no idea I needed, a sisterhood that showed me that I'm not alone. It is a platform that challenged and continues to challenge the monolithic view of Black women the world will have you believe. We are multidimensional, multilayered, multiifacted and powerful AF and xoNecole speaks to those women every day as a lifestyle platform that shows us we are worthy to hear these types of stories, write these types of stories, and be seen through these types of stories. It's OK because we are more."

"Necole's journey is one that I've had the pleasure of being closer to than most and it has been a thing of beauty to see the way that she has come into her own as a businesswoman sure, but also an unapologetic force who stands true to leading a life that she is excited about. Work plays into that and so does her success, and so does the evolution of her from NecoleBitchie to Necole Kane; but personally the thing that inspires me most is how passionate she is about cultivating happiness and what that means for herself. It's been an honor and a privilege to see the brand flourish and as a result to see her flourish and come into her own as a woman who pours into herself as often as she seeks to pour into other women. That love that I've been able to witness her giving so freely to others by way of events, talks, platforms, newsletters, apps, and the xoNecole brand as a whole, is the love that she is also giving herself. That has been motivating and inspiring beyond measure and I am so proud that after years of prioritizing other things, she's starting to say, 'It's time to give a little of that to me.'

"I express my gratitude for you all the time Necole. Today and every day, rest and stand proudly in the fact that you have done the things you set out to do. You have been the change you wish to see. You inspire and drive other women to strive through the unyielding bravery you've had in times where you could have been afraid to seek to find answers to the questions others might have feared to ask. You are doing God's work in the way that you touch others and empower them to own the fullness of their voices to uplift the next woman. Your authenticity and transparency inspires our authenticity and transparency. I know that can also be a lot of pressure but know that you are already worthy simply by being. Keep going and glowing, Queen. You deserve all the wins and more, holistically. Thank you once again today, and every day. I love you, we all love you!"

Top 5 Favorite Articles:

"Serial Entrepreneur Shanicia Boswell Needs You To Know That Every Loss Is An Opportunity To Level Up"

"Why Are Women Accepting Bare Minimum As Bae-Material?"

"5 Women On The Truth About Living Alone"

"We Talked To Over 20 Men About The Things They Like In Bed But Won't Ask For & Whew Chile..."

"Why You Should Be Unapologetic About Setting Boundaries With Toxic Family Members"

Featured image via Ashleigh Hardin-Jones

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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