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Rising Singer-Songstress Zonnique Pullins Pushes Her Pen To The Paper For Self-Care

"Sometimes it's just taking a breather and giving yourself the tiniest moment to step back from everything."

Finding Balance

In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

Stepping out of the shadow of two well-respected and highly accomplished parents in the music industry can be tough. Especially when they're Xscape member, Tameka "Tiny" Harris and Grammy-award winning rapper, actor and podcast host Tip "T.I." Harris. However, Zonnique Pullins has managed to quiet the noise of the haters and step into her own limelight as a solo artist.

Recently releasing two singles, "Winner" and "#FTCU", Zonnique has made a name for herself since her days on BET's Tiny and Toya and as a member of the OMG Girlz with besties Bahja Rodriguez and Reginae Carter. The Atlanta-bred princess is now recognized as a soulful songstress with the ability to throw a vibe to anyone who is willing to catch it. From her trap-inspired single "Nun For Free" with Young Thug to sexy R&B vibes in "Should've Been", Zonnique is a name for you to watch out for in 2020 if she hasn't been already.

The Growing Up Hip-Hop: Atlanta alum shares with xoNecole about how she finds balance between music, family and relationships with thanking God for seeing another day, journaling and working out with bae, Bandhunta Izzy.

xoNecole: At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause and finding balance in both your personal and professional life? 

Zonnique: Taking the break I just took from putting out music was something that I didn't plan, but realized it may have been something I needed. I've been making music since I was 8, so stepping back for a while and taking time to myself to grow was helpful for me.

Courtesy of Zonnique

"Taking the break I just took from putting out music was something that I didn't plan, but realized it may have been something I needed."

What is a typical day in your life? If no day is quite the same, give me a rundown of a typical workweek and what that might consist of. 

A typical day in my life is different, but I try to combine a little bit of work and family time together. I usually start my days off with what I have to do first, whether it's filming, studio, interviews, and/or meetings. I like to record at night, but I've been getting into doing it earlier in the day and when I finish I'm not so tired. I [also] go visit my family or my friends, who are really family.

What are your mornings like? 

My mornings are always chill. [I] always thank God when I open my eyes, maybe just lay there, look around and think about my dreams for a minute. [I also] see what notifications I have on my phone and take it to the bathroom with me. When I open my eyes, I thank God first, do the regular routine of brushing my teeth. I honestly don't wash my face every day and I usually eat a bowl of cereal because I don't enjoy cooking. If I have nothing to do, I lay and watch something good to start off the day like Cheaters.

How do you wind down at night? 

I love to watch a good movie or show until I get sleepy, then I turn on something I don't care to watch until I'm in a deep sleep - just to wake up in the middle of the night and turn the TV off.

When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it?

When I have a busy week, the most hectic part of it would just be the [act of] moving from place to place to get everything done [because] then you don't get a good amount of sleep because my nights end late and mornings start early. Probably, the most hectic part is traveling from one place to another [and] not being able to eat or rest except in between the little car rides. Especially on a press day in New York! I don't have an assistant but a person from my team is always with me to keep me on schedule.

Do you practice any types of self-care? What does that look like for you? 

I never looked at it as practicing self-care until maybe a month ago when someone made me realize how much joy I get in writing in journals and reading. I've always enjoyed doing both since I was a little girl and still enjoy it now. I would say that is a form of self-care for me.

What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care? 

The advice I have is to just find time even if it's for five minutes. Sometimes it's just taking a breather and giving yourself the tiniest moment to step back from everything.

Courtesy of Zonnique

"Sometimes it's just taking a breather and giving yourself the tiniest moment to step back from everything."

How do you find balance with:

Friends? Family?

I find balance with my friends by visiting them when I'm not busy and talking to them on a regular basis. I honestly have such a big family and sometimes it can be difficult to make time for everything and everyone. I visit my family a lot as well but my friends and I like to meet up at least a couple of times a week.

Love/Relationships? Dating?

My boyfriend and I live together, so we're always together and do a lot including visiting my family. I don't really have to find a balance between being with him and doing my own thing and when we both have a free day we'll do stuff together and we also work together sometime.

Exercise?

I usually start my day off by going to the gym (before quarantine), so that's how I make sure to exercise. [My boyfriend and I] also work out together!

What about health? Do you cook or find yourself eating out?

When it comes to health, I like to work out as much as possible and I drink mostly water. Those two are the easiest things for me to keep up with, but the eating part is the hardest. I don't really eat pork or beef and in quarantine, I just learned how to cook. I still eat UberEats and DoorDash almost every day.

When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?

I just take time to myself. I don't really like being around people when I'm feeling down, so I sit with my feelings and think of ways to solve my problem and then get back up again. I went through a lot of uncertainty while starting my career as a solo artist coming out of a group, and I just continued to work on myself and find myself more. When I have a creative block, I step back from the situation for a second to give my mind a break from overthinking and come back to the idea when it feels right.

What do you do when you have a creative block when writing music or creating in the studio?

When I have a block, I always ask the people around me for input. I love to create with other people and that helps me get back into the groove whenever I feel really stuck.

And honestly, what does success and happiness mean to you?

Success to me means being happy with the things you have done and/or accomplished [and] simply doing things you're proud of. [Being] happy to me is loving yourself, being happy with the person you are within, loving your own pretty and ugly side.

For more of Zonnique, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image courtesy of Zonnique

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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