General News (72)

I married my best friend. Not everyone gets to say that so I’m grateful. At the time my now husband proposed, we’d been dating for a year and a half. We got married four months after he popped the question. We didn’t need anything too fancy, or pricey. Rather than simply prepare for a wedding together, we prepared for a lifetime together.  That’s what marrying your best friend does. It gives you perspective on what’s important. A lifetime of love is what every married couple wants. Marrying your best friend is one way to get it.

3 Ways Marrying Your Best Friend Ensures a Lifetime of Love

  1. Respect – Keeping it real means keeping it respectful with your best friend.
  2. Loyalty – You never have to wonder who’s your ride or die.
  3. Love – The better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness, health kind of love.

With the divorce rate standing at 50% in this country, it’s clear that at least half of us get married for the wrong reason or to the wrong person.

Watch some of these “reality” shows and you’ll realize that some of those couples have no business getting married. Bachelor party sex romps and wedding day cuss-fests make it clear that the relationship has devolved into a fight for ratings rather than a relationship.

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So, what’s the cure? Well, “cure” might be a strong word. Maybe what’s needed is the right recipe. There are many ingredients to a good marriage. There are even more to a healthy marriage. But ultimately, they all boil down to three things when you’re married to your best friend: respect, loyalty, and love. Keeping these three as the main ingredients makes it easier to season your days and spice up your nights with the one who knows you best.



Keeping it real means keeping it respectful with your best friend. On the one hand, you can get so comfortable that you don’t care how you communicate with your partner. But when someone is truly the closest human soul to you, you choose to guard your tongue. The last thing you want to do is hurt them.

When your best friend hurts, you hurt. So during tough conversations, rather than fly off the handle, you speak your truth with respect. You speak to your spouse with love. A lifetime of communicating that way means a lifetime of peace, even when times get hard.

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You never have to wonder who’s your ride or die after marrying your best friend. It’s a given that respect in your relationship leads to loyalty. Your spouse has your back and you have theirs. Always. Without doubt. In public. In private.

There’s an unbreakable bond that’s forged when two people have each other’s best interests at heart. When loyalty is evident, it also puts everyone else on notice. In fact, “what God has joined together, let no one separate” is loyalty’s creed. Essentially, a lifetime of love with your best friend is easier when loyalty is on the table.



Love is a tricky word. If you think about it, most marriages claim to have that as the main ingredient. So how can the divorce rate be so high? Well, I’m talking about the “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health” kind of love. This is the kind that will last a lifetime after marrying your best friend. With it comes laughter, joy, pain, sorrow, courage, fear, falling down, and getting up. It’s a love that will take you through anything life throws at your relationship. It’s not just a noun, it’s a verb. In effect, it must move beyond words into action. So sure, it’s a tricky word. But when marrying your best friend, it doesn’t have to be.

My husband is still my best friend. He became that for many reasons. But when it comes to our marriage, respect, loyalty, and love have remained constant. And for that, I’ll be grateful for a lifetime.


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Another weekend has come and gone and you and your spouse spent it doing the “same ole, same ole.” He mowed the lawn. You did the laundry. Later, you both watched TV then went to bed. Yawn! Don’t get me wrong. The love is still there. However, you weren’t shocked to find your wedding picture next to “boring marriage” on the internet. How did this happen? You two were the talk of the town during your courtship. You had so much fun together. But, at some point, you settled into a routine that left your marriage wanting. Now, you’re ready to turn the tables and set things back in motion. The question is, where should you start?

Boring Marriage? 2 Stupid Simple Ways to Spice Things Up

  1. Turn off the TV.
  2. Leave the house.

Making a decision to spice things up in your relationship is the easy part. Following through is where things get tough. Chances are you’ve worked pretty hard all week. By the time Friday comes around, you’re beyond tired. In fact, just the thought of doing anything outside of curling up in front of the TV wears you out. But a boring marriage isn’t what you signed up for so it’s time to make some changes. It’s time to spice things up and here are two extremely stupid simple ways to do just that!


Turn off the TV

Stupid. Simple. Not much else needs to be said here. However, just in case you’ve fooled yourself into thinking TV is a “fun” part of your relationship, let me help you out. Whether it’s watching Game of Thrones, a saving the whales documentary, or Martin re-runs, a night spent in front of the tube makes the “boring list” for marriage activity. Sure, once in a while, a night of Netflix and chill can turn into something more. But chances are if your marriage is boring, it’s time to let that idea go.

Whip out some cards and play strip poker. Grab a photo album and reminisce about the good old days. Have some friends over and get your spades game on. Turn on the radio. Dance a little salsa. Or let Luther take you…ahem…there.

Whatever you choose, just turn off the TV and make it spicy!


Leave the House

The comforts of home can make slaves of us all. At home, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of dressing to the nines and putting on makeup and tipping the server. Complacency creeps in and excitement creeps out. Finding a sitter takes a backseat to finding the right channel. What were once nights to remember have turned into nights you’d just as soon forget.

Enough said. It’s time to leave the house.

But for a couple whose nightlife has grown stale, what’s there to do? It wouldn’t hurt to call up some friends and schedule a double date. If your dating game is a little rusty, there’s no shame in tagging along with a couple who’s always on the move. Once you get started, you’ll find yourself planning some wild nights on the town by yourself. Here are some things you can look forward to:

  • Take some dance lessons together
  • Spice up your life with a cooking class
  • Go enjoy a day at an amusement park
  • Take in an outdoor…or indoor concert
  • A picnic in the park can be a lot of fun
  • Drive to a nearby city and take in the sights
  • Dinner without the movie also has its perks
  • A day at the beach, the lake, the pond…make it work for you

There are options galore for bringing some spice back into your relationship. But first, you have to take a sobering look at your time and see if you’re sharing the best time of your life with the love of your life. If you give in to complacency and neglect your thirst for excitement, your marriage will suffer.

I promised you two stupid-simple ways to spice up your boring marriage. And, that’s what you got. But by doing just those two things alone, you open up your relationship to a host of possibilities. Consider the effort you put into dating your spouse. Light that fire again in your marriage and sparks are bound to fly!



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“She’s your – Queen to be!” If you’ve ever seen “Coming to America,” these lyrics and the way they are sung stand out in the movie. Sang out of tune and high pitched, it was the first line to the song introducing Eddie Murphy’s character, Prince Akeem Joffer, to his bride to be, at least the one who had been arranged for him since birth. After her grand entrance, Akeem attempts to have a private chat with her. Since it’s their first meeting, he tries to get to know her, you know, her likes and dislikes. He soon learns that her whole life, she’s been trained to do one thing: meet his needs and his needs only. Unhappy with their choice for him, Akeem sets out to America to find his bride, someone who can serve alongside him as king and queen when his time comes to rule Zamunda.

King and Queen: How to Treat Your Spouse Like Royalty

  1. Respect their mind
  2. Follow their heart
  3. Love their spirit
  4. Serve their body
  5. Obey their intentions

Respect their mind

When Akeem attempts to learn about his arranged bride, he asks her about the things that she likes. Her answer was always the same. She liked whatever he liked. And, she would do whatever he told her to do. So, he asks her bark like a dog. And, she does. Now, we laugh at that scene because it’s a movie and it’s funny. However, the lesson here is that Akeem wanted a woman, a queen, he could respect.

As king and queen in a relationship, it’s important to have a high level of respect for your spouse. Respecting their independence of thought, their ability to think and act for themselves is the first place to start. Though the husband might lead the relationship, he seeks his wife’s thoughts in every area. Different points of view help us to grow as people and a good king and queen know that it makes your union that much more exciting and your bond that much stronger.


Follow their heart

Treating your spouse like royalty may start with respect, but it means nothing if you can’t understand and follow their heart. Always assume the good about your partner. Often times in relationships, especially during moments of conflict, frustrations abound when our hearts are misunderstood.

In the movie, Akeem travels to America and meets Lisa. As he courts her, not only does he hide his royal heritage, he presents himself as extremely poor. Upon learning his true status, Lisa is very upset. To her, it appeared as though he were testing her heart whereas, for him, he just wanted to be loved as a man, not a prince. There may be times when your partner’s actions are questionable. But to treat them like royalty, it’s important to first believe in the goodness of their character. For Akeem and Lisa, they both learned the lesson that they should assume the good and not the worst about their partner’s heart. You should do the same.


Love their spirit

When Akeem first meets Lisa, he’s smitten. Is she beautiful? Yes. But as he gets to know her, he’s not only struck by the softness of her smile, he’s also moved by the kindness of her spirit. Learning to love the spiritual energy your partner brings to your relationship is an important way to treat them like royalty.


Serve their body

Yes. I said, “serve.” Intimacy in a king and queen relationship is about just that, service. Finding out your partner’s likes and dislikes when it comes to sexual pleasure is an important step in treating them like royalty. Rather than focusing solely on your personal needs, there is tremendous satisfaction in meeting the needs of your spouse. Whether it’s engaging in foreplay or touching them where they like to be touched, the royal treatment is service oriented.


Obey their intentions

I have to say it’s unfortunate that when it comes to marriage, the word obey has gotten a really bad rap. I can’t say it’s without good reason. It has been abused so often that the intent of it has been completely twisted. When you are in a king and queen relationship, understanding each other’s intentions and being obedient to it doesn’t have to be complicated. It requires gratitude and humility to both see where your spouse is coming from as well as obey their requests of you. When you choose to see their point of view and submit your will to theirs, you are letting them know you uphold them as royalty in your life. It doesn’t mean you blindly follow, it just means you respect their role as your partner in the relationship.


In Coming to America, Akeem finds his bride. He found someone who he was will to respect, follow, love, serve, and obey. Lisa was also willing to do the same for Akeem. As the eventual king and queen if Zamunda, they could not rule as one without these qualities. For your family, your own little nation to be its best, you must treat your spouse like royalty. These five qualities are a great way to start.

BMWK, in what ways do you treat your spouse like royalty?



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I dated a millionaire miser. His name was Peter, and it was one of the most toxic relationships I’d ever been in. But, it was also one of the most transformational.

I can thank Peter for teaching me a few surprising things about love and money. Maybe you’ll benefit from learning them, too.

Money Is a Stand-In for Many of Our Values

I grew up in a household where money was hard to come by. Once I entered the working world, I became obsessed with saving money as a way to avoid poverty, as opposed to building wealth or funding professional and personal opportunities for growth. My thinking has since evolved, and I have come to view money as a tool to help me live life on my terms, which includes saving, spending, donating and investing.

In dating a miser, I witnessed how money could be used as a weapon to punish and control. Peter believed his wealth entitled him to speak poorly to waitresses, department store staff or anyone that he felt had less money than he did.

Dating a Financial Extreme Can Be the Wake-Up Call You Need

While dating Peter, I saw him read books in their entirety and return them to bookstores, haggle over the price of end-of-day pizza, skimp on tips and manipulate situations to get out of buying costly gifts. Observing these behaviors forced me to reflect on my own. While I had never done any of these things, it made me think about some of my unsavory financial actions and motivations.

Since dating Peter, I’ve adjusted some of my money behaviors: I tip at least 15 percent; I still love a discount, but don’t become despondent when I don’t receive one (specifically if I can outright afford it); I think about price as much as I do value when making a purchase.

Love should be easy in the beginning, but I soon found myself rolling my eyes at how Peter treated money, and by extension, the world around him: one-sided, self-absorbed and extremely demanding. In hindsight, I should have ended the three-month relationship sooner, but the bottom line was that it had to end and it did.

Misers Make Financial Intimacy Hard, but Financial Infidelity Easy

Cultivating financial intimacy, or the ability to communicate openly and honestly about money with your partner, is difficult to do with a miser. In the short time that we dated, Peter didn’t like the idea that I worked and wanted me to stop working if we were to get serious, despite my core (non-negotiable) beliefs of financial independence and career fulfillment. Even though there was never a chance that I would ever marry this man, I already thought about ways to hide my financial and career advancements and achievements while we dated, which would only deepen in a marriage to a man that wanted to dominate, if not, oppress financially.

I ended this jaunt of a relationship with Peter nearly ten years ago. It’s still one of the most memorable relationships I’ve had — not for the love, but for the lessons. If my life were a book, then Peter would have been my foil, the character that shows qualities that are in contrast with the qualities of the protagonist (me). The foil’s ultimate objective is to highlight the traits of the other character.

From Peter, I learned about how much love I had to give (and wanted to give) by how much love he withheld. From Peter, I learned that I wanted to use money as a way to express gratitude and appreciation for myself and others by experiencing how he systemically shortchanged and reduced the people in his life, including me. And for that, I will always be grateful.



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One of my dearest friends got married at the end of last year. The destination wedding, which took place on some of the most gorgeous beaches of Mexico, was hands-down one of the most exquisite ceremonies I had ever witnessed. And, as one of her five bridesmaids, it was also one of the most expensive

When I agreed to accept the invitation of being a bridesmaid, I knew I was also accepting the financial responsibilities that accompanied a destination wedding.

Bridesmaid Costs for a Destination Wedding

Regarding numbers, there were several costs that I had to incur. Here’s exactly how much it cost me to be a bridesmaid at a wedding in Mexico:

Bridesmaid Cost Breakdown
Expense Cost
Bridesmaid Dress $200
Flight to Mexico $400
Checked Bags $80
Wedding Makeup $70
Bachelorette Party $70
Bachelorette Party Gifts $40
Hotel $780
Total $1,640

Being a Bridesmaid: Cost vs. Value

Witnessing my girlfriend’s journey from single woman to married woman with a man that she loves was one of my deepest joys. I loved landing in Mexico and feeling my advanced Spanish flow out of me — I felt like a bilingual goddess. I loved ordering room service and eating Mexican burritos in my underwear every morning for breakfast. I loved all of the hoopla and fuss associated with the day; I loved running to a fellow bridesmaid’s hotel room and faux freaking out about getting to the wedding on time. I loved being silly and looking at how round our booties were in the mirror once we put on our bridesmaid dresses. I loved taking #selfies and #usies at the reception and chitchatting with the invitees at my table.


IMG_1393.jpg 113w, 768w, 610w" alt="" width="331" height="440" />I’ve known the bride since we were in high school. We interned at the same soul-sucking insurance company for two years and wobbled down Wall Street’s cobbled corners in high heels together. She was also my bridesmaid. And a deft one at that: She played referee when my mom and I went almost to blows on the floors of David’s Bridal when searching for my wedding dress.

In short, when I think of our 20-year friendship and all the various way this woman taught me about the power of family, forgiveness and faith, it was an honor to be one of the chosen ones. As a bridesmaid, I was able to create another memory with my friend and the cost of it, though hefty, was outweighed by the emotional returns of that day.

When the Value Is High but So Is the Cost

I understand my perspective is not the same for everyone. The decision to drop nearly $2,000 — the equivalent of startup funds for an online business, a mortgage payment or two, a used car or the cost of a college course at a local college — requires a lot of financial thinking, analysis and planning, even when you care deeply about the bride and groom. Consider asking yourself the following questions to help you determine whether accepting a role in the wedding party at a far-off destination is really worth it:

    • Will participating in this wedding put me into debt?
    • Can I afford to pay for everything in cash?
    • Have recent or upcoming life events like purchasing a home, a layoff or divorce created financial holes or gaps?
    • Do I consider this person a true friend?
    • Would they do the same for me?
  • Could I recoup the cost in some way? Could it be covered as a business expense? Could I extend my stay so I can have a vacation?

No matter what you decide, when it becomes to being a bridesmaid, your friend — if they are a true friend — will respect your (financial) decision.




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I’ve been with my current financial advisor, James, for close to 15 years. In a recent conversation, he shared his first impression of me, which, surprisingly, wasn’t complimentary at all. He said that after I entered his office to discuss retirement, he thought he’d never see me again.

In his experience, potential clients would show great initial interest in planning for retirement, but would never garner the discipline or commitment to execute a plan. His anecdotal experiences mirror what’s happening nationwide. A recent survey from GOBankingRates found that 42 percent of Americans have no more than $10,000 saved for retirement, which isn’t even enough to cover a year’s worth of expenses in retirement, according to the BLS. Further, nearly 14 percent have nothing saved at all.

What James didn’t know about me when we first met was that I had seen family members lose their homes, beg for bus fare and contemplate suicide because they had no money in their twilight years. I didn’t want to suffer the same fate.

After we had our initial meeting, I returned the next week with my first deposit: $100. And, I made sure that every month I scheduled a $100 deduction to go toward retirement so I could have a cushy future. Besides automating my retirement, here are three other money moves I made to set myself up to retire comfortably.

No. 1: I Opened a Retirement Savings Account Early (Even With Debt)

A GOBankingRates survey, conducted via Survata, asked 1,000 adults with $0 saved what the main reason for their lack of savings was. The No. 1 response was, perhaps unsurprisingly, “I don’t make enough money” (40 percent).

When I first met James, I was in my 20s, a classroom teacher and had student loan debt. But, that didn’t stop me. I started with as much as I could afford and increased how much I contributed on a yearly basis. James also encouraged me to speak to my human resources department to find out about how to take advantage of my employer’s Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) options. Once I eliminated my student loan, I had grown so used to living on less, I was able to funnel even more money toward my retirement savings without feeling deprived.

No. 2: I Questioned Consumerism

During my financial journey, I lived at the extremes of the spender-saver spectrum. There were times when I deprived myself of the basics of life in the name of saving a dollar. On the other hand, there were periods of time when I spent frivolously in the spirit of self-care and self-love. But, after reading Julia Schor’s seminal “The Overspent American,” I began to fully make sense of money and how Americans use status spending to keep them focused on material acquisition rather than wealth-building. This book offered a tempered approach to spending: If you buy to impress others, you’ll be unhappy and be shopping forever, so avoid it. This book reinforced my decisions to buy a moderate home (instead of a McMansion), frequent thrift stores even though I can afford more, and indulge in experiences and activities that matter to me independent of their popularity.

No. 3: I Started a Side Hustle

While I never thought of The Frugal Feminista as a form of retirement income, it is. A business, whether part time or full time, could generate enough income to make a huge difference in how you experience your retirement. An additional source of income can determine how much you travel, where you decide to relocate (if necessary) and how generous you can be to organizations and causes that align with your values.

While I have at least three more decades in the workforce, I know that my approach to saving for retirement through simple living, entrepreneurship and good ol’ savings will ensure that I retire like a boss. Will you?



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Getting your college degree is one of the primary things that will shape your future, and your earning potential when you go into the world of work. Not only this, but it will also enable you to foster the values of independence and time-keeping, and it will also help you to adapt to a multitude of social environments.

Whilst there are many benefits of college, the truth is that it is a very expensive option. How are you supposed to get through your degree, without ending up with an unmanageable amount of debt? We’ve put together some quick tips.


Look for part-time work

Part-time work will enable you to save some cash whilst you get your college degree, and it also helps you to manage your time more efficiently. Whilst many people work in cafes, bars and restaurants, or perhaps in retail roles, you could get more money for less time spent working if you seek tutoring jobs, essay writing roles, or writing on a freelance basis. Think about how you can get some extra cash, without compromising your studies, and subsequently the result of your degree.

Study remotely

If you don’t want to have to splash out for the expensive costs associated with college, such as accommodation prices and the commuting expenses, then it could be a good idea to look into doing your degree via an online college. You will still get the same amount of support, and the same materials, but you can save money and time by doing your degree from home, or even from your local coffee shop. This is also ideal for parents who are looking for an increased sense of flexibility.

Limit your (expensive) social time

When you’re at college, you want to be sure that you’re meeting new people as often as possible, and that you’re establishing yourself socially. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, but if you get pulled too far into the social side of college, you could find yourself splashing out on food, drinks, and events on almost every night of the week. Go to free (or cheap) social events as often as you can, and try to limit the amount of times that you head out to those more expensive restaurants.

Make your meals in advance at home

If you really want to save yourself some cash at college, you should be avoiding expensive lunches – and meals in general – as much as you can. A good way to do this is to make sure that you plan out some of your meals in advance, and make big batches of food so that you can take it into college for a few days in a row. This way, you can save yourself time instead of constantly cooking, and you can also save some money that you would have spent in the cafeteria, getting that lunchtime fix.

So, if you want to save money whilst getting your college degree, then keep these things in mind, and you should come out of the other side with less debt!



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Hi!  I’m Kara, founder of The Frugal Feminista!

Welcome! The Frugal Feminista was created from a deep  place of love, advocacy, and joy that comes from understanding the brilliance and beauty of black women; and knowing the role that money can play in helping them live life on their own terms.

Our mission.

What sets The Frugal Feminista apart from other personal finance and personal development sites is our approach to helping black women step into their financial confidence, demolish their debt, and set themselves up to achieve financial ease. We approach money healing through: Sisterhood. Support. Sacred Self-Care. Solid Steps and Strategies. 


Consider me your financial friend.

When I was scrapping and clawing my way out of $65k worth of student loan and consumer debt, $40k of which I was able to eliminate in two years, I learned sooooo much about money, but sooooo much more about myself.

I came face-to- face with the limits that I put on myself and the limited and unhealthy beliefs I held about money.

Hands down, I think brown girls get a bad rap when it comes to how we understand our worth, goodness, and positioning in society. And for all intents and purpose, so does money: Everyone wants it, talks about it,  dreams about it, but rarely knows how to handle it with care and purpose.

And as your financial friend,  I  teach,  coach, and guide you to moving your money mess to a money makers. On top of that, I provide you with the right resources and supports to get you there.


So when I created  The Frugal Feminista, I wanted to make sure that I told the truth and nothing but the truth about black women and money. No where on the web will you find a site that simultaneously helps brown girls heal, deepen, and strengthen not only their relationship with themselves, but also with their money. It’s an ambitious mission, but one I feel completely committed and qualified to do.


Since 2013, I’ve worked with thousands of women as a writer, coach, consultant, and speaker on helping black women break up with being broke, break free from the money blocks and personal hurdles that keep them from financial confidence, living a debt free life, and owning their piece of financial peace. On top of that, I’ve partnered with a number of brands to spread this message. From Prudential to Chrysler to Dove to Dryel, The Frugal Feminista has worked with quality brands with campaigns that align with our mission: financial empowerment and personal development that is authentic, kind, and thoughtful.

One of my greatest hopes is that the content on The Frugal Feminista makes you feel like you’ve just finished a loooong, cool glass of lemonade. I hope the writing and messages make you smack your lips, throw your head back, and come back for seconds.

I want you to feel that good. That poured into.

Here are a few articles to get you started!

3 Lessons A Trip to DC Taught Me About My Money Issues

Maurice The Miser: A Financial Loser You Must Avoid

3 Simple Ways to Rebuild Your Credit

Black Women As Minimalists. The Next Needed Trend?

Is Minimalism Your Cure for Clutter and Debt?

8 Places to Sell Your Used Clothes for Cash

9 Things I Did to Pay Back My $40K Student Loan Debt in Two Years

5 Different Ways to Save $1,400 This Year Doing the 52-Week Savings Challenge

She Get It From Her Mama: Parents and the Formation of Financial Identities

Witty is Sexy: The 7-Part Formula to Being Witty

From Fatherless Daughter to Happy Wife

Enjoy and drop me a note about what resonated with you most at

And one last thing. I always like it when tribe leaders share a little more about themselves. Sooooo, I wanted to do the same!! 

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1. Jamaica Kincaid is my favorite writer! One of my dreams came true in 2015 when I met her and gave her a hug. I asked her for her email address and she gave it to me. I wrote her three emails, but she never responded. My husband says that I crossed the line from being a fan to becoming a full-fledged hiding-in-the-bushes-with-sunglasses-at-nighttime stalker when I contemplated writing a fourth. Perhaps he was right. I eventually stopped thinking about sending a fourth…eventually.

2. I love retreats. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Retreats give me time to reflect, rejuvenate, and review my plans for world domination. My favorite low-cost, high-quality retreat center is in Haines Falls, NY.

3. I’m a fake vegan. Please don’t judge me. LOL. I don’t know how many times I’ve started and failed the transition from full-on meat eater to vegan. The struggle is so real, but I can’t stop, won’t stop. 

4. Getting into debt and out of debt was one of the best things that have happened to me. It helped me discover my passion for personal finance and helping women that look like me get their financial lives in tip-top shape.

5. I like a dollop of ratchet reality television. I’m #TeamNene all day. Don’t care.

6. I’m a therapy evangelist (stole that title from a good friend) so, it’s not surprising that one of my favorite movies is Good Will Hunting, which is largely about a mutually transformative relationship between a therapist and his patient.

7. I’ve had locs for close to seventeen years and I’ve cut them short at least three times and threaten to chop them all off  (with the exception of two teeny tiny ones at the front) during the hottest months of the year.

8. Next year, I will be in Antigua (pronounced An-te-ga, not An-te-gua) playin’ mass. Yes. Yes. Yes.

9. I was a Fulbright Semi-finalist. My proposal focused on how IMF’s Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) negatively impacted Ghanaian market women in the informal sector.

10. Although I claim that every song is MY jam, I only know all the words to about three songs, four if the song is played in the background while I sing.

Bonus Factoid: 11. I’m very much an introvert. I love spending time with and in my thoughts. But I do love people and hearing their stories, which makes me a great listener and the best secret keeper.

Bonus, Bonus Factoid: 12. I’d rather be happy than I credit to my race. I renounce, reject, and rebuke all gender, class, and race constructs that keep me from being authentically Kara.  I believe The Strong Black Woman trope, in particular,  is a straight up conspiracy  ( a C-O-N-SPIRACY) to strangle every bit of happiness that brown, brilliant, black girls harvest and hide for themselves.

 Bonus, Bonus, Bonus Factoid: 13. I’m a new mama. And on some days I feel like I know what I’m doing. And on other most days, not so much.
Talk soon!
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The conventional financial advice that extols the benefits of skipping a $5 latte in order to pocket between $1,300 and $1,820 (depending on your frequency) a year is short-sighted. Don’t get me wrong, saving $1,820 a year is a step in the right direction, but it’s not a high-leverage strategy to build wealth. It’s not even the most efficient way to reduce your expenses.

Rather than eliminate my sip of happiness in pursuit of financial freedom, here’s what I’m doing to reach my long-term financial goals.

I Bought a Smaller Home

When my husband and I decided to pursue homeownership, we opted for a home that cost less than 20 percent of our gross income. This is close to 10 percent lower than the rule of thumb that advises people spend 29 percent of their gross income on housing expenses. We’ll save tens of thousands of dollars in the long run with this saving hack. This same approach can be applied to other big-ticket items like cars and appliances.

I Found a Higher Paying Job

One of my biggest revelations as a personal finance educator is that there is a limit to how much you can reduce your expenses, but (theoretically) is no limit to how much money you can earn. In applying this to the latte argument, I decided that I wanted to make enough money where “splurging” on a latte wouldn’t break my budget.

I Started a Side-Hustle

I created The Frugal Feminista as an additional stream of income. With an online business, I don’t have to pinch pennies by cutting out lattes. With a side hustle, I can run daily, weekly and monthly sales to reach revenue goals that exceed the annual cost of indulging in a latte 365 days a year.

I Applied the ‘Love vs. Like’ Rule to Purchases

A nice, warm latte helps me focus; it’s something that I look forward to when I journal or daydream about the future of my family and my business. Technically, I don’t need it, but I do love what it symbolizes, and it’s part of my “all about me” ritual. So, rather than eliminate it, I found other areas of my spending that weren’t as meaningful to focus on. For example, I realized I spent a lot of money on taxis and Uber at one time in my financial life because I was being lazy and didn’t want to wake up early enough to take the bus or train to work. This “love vs. like” approach makes it easy to distinguish between what non-essential is worth splurging on.

I refuse to expend my energy harassing myself to save $5 a day when I can use that same energy and discipline to think of creative and scalable ways to earn more money — hundreds, if not thousands a day — or identify high-leverage savings opportunities that immediately reduce costs without making me feel deprived.



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There might well come a time in your life when you feel the need to somehow start again with regard to your finances. When that time comes, you need to know what it is that you can do, and how it is likely to work out. The truth is that there are plenty of ways of approaching this, and as long as you are happy to do so you will find that you can soon enough give your life a much more stable feel to it too. Any financial refresh is likely to help you keep things on track, and it is something which most of us will find we need to do at some point in our lives. In this article, we will take a look at what this might entail, and what you should consider essential if you really want to make sure that your financial life is given such a necessary boost.

Step Back & Analyze

If there is anything that will prove necessary in order to refresh your financial life, it is taking the time to step back and really analyze deeply what’s going on. It is all too easy to get caught up in your own finances, to such a degree that you can completely lose sight of the bigger picture and what is going on generally. However, when you make a point of stepping back to analyze it as a whole, you will suddenly find that you are faced with some stark evidence of what it might be that needs fixing. That can be a painful moment, but it is vital if you are to make the right kinds of changes for your own financial future.

This process of stepping back to analyze means that you need to develop a cold and detached view of your own finances, and that is not something that comes naturally to everyone. However, it is something that anyone can develop, and once you have learned how to look at your finances in this way, you will probably find it a most useful tool for the future too. When you are first starting to step back and analyze your finances, you will find that it is hard to know what to look into, or which details are important. The easy answer here is that, at first at least, it’s all important, as it all allows you to gradually get to the bottom of your own financial situation. So make a point of starting to look at your finances in this way, and you will find that you are already moving in the right direction.

Above all, you need to start to identify what it is that you need to change. You can only do that by looking at both the bigger picture and the smaller details, the macro and the micro. So try to do just that if you are keen to give your life that refresh that it really needs. You will soon discover some areas for improvement which you can work on soon enough.


Make Snowballing Changes

Part of the reason that it can seem so overwhelming to completely change your finances around is because you are thinking about it in such huge terms. While you can expect these big changes to occur, it is a good idea – indeed, necessary – to make sure that you are thinking about them in terms of their smaller constituent parts. That means that you should focus first and foremost on the smaller changes, as it is only by taking small steps that you ever take the larger steps. This will help you to keep focused on what you need to do, and it will mean that you are going to be much less overwhelmed as you try to make such significant life changes too. These small changes, however insignificant they might seem at first, will soon enough add up to bigger and bigger changes, and it is this snowballing effect which ultimately makes the difference. So don’t be afraid to make small changes when you want to change your financial life around.

Of course, you need to know where to begin, and the truth is that you can start with simple practical stuff that might seem to make hardly any difference at first. Let’s think about the bills you pay each month. You might well feel that reducing these slightly won’t really help, but that is not quite the case. Actually, if you can keep your bills down, it will mean that you can hope to make a big difference overall. If you think you could save money on your cell phone, think about something like If you feel that your energy bills could be reduced, you might want to look into using a tool like All of these little things really do make a difference, so it’s important not to overlook them if you can help it.


It goes beyond the monthly bills, too. Even something like finding a way to improve your cooking skills can mean that you spend less on food. As you are probably starting to appreciate, completely refreshing your financial life often means focusing on changing things you might never have considered needed changing or altering at all. Once you start to make these changes, you will see some profound effects in no time, which will help to spur you on.

Recovery Planning

When you set out on this mission of improving your finances, you need to make sure that you are starting off right. That means knowing where you are heading, what you want to achieve along the way, and how you hope to make it all come together. In short, you need a plan, and it is this method of recovery planning which will mean that you can make the most of the whole journey. Let’s take a look at what might be involved in recovery planning, so that you can hope to get moving in the right direction straight off the bat.


First of all, make sure that you have one major, clear goal in mind for what you want to achieve. Something like could help here. It could be something very concrete with an obvious endpoint, such as paying off every penny of debt you have. Or it might be more nebulous, but still important, such as improving your general approach to money so that you have more of it at the end of each month. Whatever it is, you need to be absolutely clear on what it is, and make a note of it. It might even change over time, and that’s fine too – the important thing is that you have something at all times that you are working towards.

Then you need to think about what you need to do to get there. That means having headlines about the major steps along the way, and also planning for as much detail as you can. With all of this kind of planning, you need to make a point of being as detailed and honest as you can be. Don’t make any guesses except where absolutely necessary: just work out specifically, to the penny if possible, what you are going to have to do. If you can do that, your plan will come together exactly as you need it to, and that will mean that you are much more likely to have the kind of success you are hoping for.

As you can see, it is always possible to give your life a financial refresh, so long as you know how to begin.


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When it comes to your monthly expenses, your energy bills represent a significant outlay. The combined total for your gas and electricity can be sky high, especially if you don’t know how to economise. One of the simplest ways to minimise your expenditure is by becoming more energy efficient. Not only is this beneficial to your bank balance it can also have some huge advantages for the environment and your carbon footprint too. So, how can you cut your costs and your consumption in just a few simple steps? Here are four top tips to help you.


Did you know your choice of lightbulb could help to reduce your energy usage by around 20 percent? It’s true and it’s super easy to do. Changing your 40W lightbulb to a new and improved 8W alternative could cut your costs significantly and it needn’t have any detrimental impact on your aesthetic. Retailers like not only have dozens of different and on-trend options for you to choose from, they also intend to make changing a lightbulb a thing of the past. They have 30,000 different types of lamps and lights, and over 10 years of experience to be sure you get the right bulb for your needs. By offering LED lighting solutions, which have an effective life span 50 times that of a normal filament bulb, they give you the chance to save time, energy and money. All this is easy to find on the website, too: you can filter their ceiling lights page, for example, to show you only lights with a specific wattage or only LED ceiling lights.

Take control of your heating

Once you’ve reviewed your lighting, it’s time to think about the way you heat your home. Lots of people warm rooms that aren’t being used as well as those that are, which this can really add up – especially in winter. That’s why we suggest making sure that each of your radiators has its own thermostat and taking full advantage of this. According to the Energy Saving Trust, turning down the temperature by just one degree could save you around £75 per annum, which you could use for anything you choose: a new pair of shoes, the start of your holiday fund or even a little top-up for your savings account. 

Keep an eye on your energy usage

There are lots of small steps you can take to reduce your energy usage, but we find it’s much easier to stick to these when you can see the difference they’re making. That’s why we recommend getting a smart meter. Most suppliers will be happy to provide you with one and they’re currently working on rolling them out to every home by 2020. These clever devices allow you to monitor exactly how much energy you’re using each day, so you can see what’s costing you the most and where you can cut back.

Compare energy suppliers

Last but not least, we also recommend using a comparison site to see whether you could make any instant savings on your bills. The experts suggest that it takes around 20 minutes to complete this process and that doing so could save you roughly £300 per year, making it a very profitable way to spend your spare time. An Ofgem-recommended site will be your best bet, as these are fully accredited and will have all of the best deals for you to pick between.


What are you waiting for? Follow these four simple steps to cut your costs today.



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Later this month, my wife and I will celebrate our five year anniversary. Which feels like an accomplishment. Not because getting and staying married makes you any specialer than those who ain’t either of those things, but because I think we know each other well enough now to make a pragmatic decision on whether to escape. And there’s been no escaping (yet)!

With this anniversary comes some pressure. Year Five is one of the years that’s recognized by the greeting card industry and shit, so you know it’s a big deal, as what we’re supposed to buy, what we’re supposed to do, which animal we’re supposed to sacrifice, etc., are less questions than commodifiable goods. According to the Internet, there’s a standard gift (wood), a modern gift (silver), a preferred flower (daisies), and a gemstone (turquoise). Which together sounds like we should just buy each other Infinity Gauntlets.


I’m not too worried about that, though. We’ll figure it out, and like with the rest of our marriage, if all else fails, we’ll just eat some zinc pills. What really concerns me—and has concerned me for our entire relationship—is that I still haven’t quite figured out how to address my in-laws, and I feel like I probably should know that by now.

Now, my father-in-law doesn’t live in-state, and I only see him a few times a year, so this isn’t as pertinent with him. But my mother-in-law lives five minutes away. We see each other multiple times a week, and also occasionally correspond through text messages and phone calls. And when any of that happens, the following thing also happens:

***Mother-in-law comes over***

Her: Hello!

Me: Hi! How are you today?

Her: Great! How are you?

Me: I’m splendid!

***I need to call my mother-in-law to confirm what time she’s coming over to babysit***

Her: Hello!

Me: Hey ... I was just calling to confirm the time for tonight.

Her: Does 7 still work?

Me: Yes ma’am. It does. Thank you!

This—the excited greetings without a name or some sort of honorific accompanying them—doesn’t seem to bother her. I doubt she’s even noticed. But, while it doesn’t really bother me either—I’m fine with keeping things as they are—it just seems ... odd. Like this is something I should’ve figured out by now.

As I see it, there are four possible options here:

1. I can call her by her first name, which seems too informal. (And by “too informal” I mean “like some white people shit.”)

2. I can call her Ms. + her last name, which seems too formal.

3. I can call her Ms. + her first name, which feels performative and blaxploitationey.

4. I can call her “Mom,” which, um, no. I just don’t feel comfortable with that.

(Interestingly enough, reason #4 is actually one of the tens of thousands of reasons I neglected to jump in during last month’s “Auntie” wars. I don’t call anyone “Auntie” or “Uncle” except my actual aunts and uncles. And as much as I appreciate and adore my mother-in-law, my mom is dead, and I just can’t call someone else that.)

Now, I imagine many of you are reading this and thinking “Um ... why don’t you just ask her what she’d like to be called?” And yes, that’s the best answer. The smart answer. The adult answer. BUT IT’S BESIDE THE ENTIRE FREAKIN POINT BECAUSE THE SORT OF PERSON WHO HAS SOME MILD ANXIETY ABOUT HOW TO REFER TO A WOMAN HE’S KNOWN FOR SEVEN YEARS IS ALSO THE SAME SORT OF PERSON WHERE “EASY” ANSWERS LIKE “Just, you know, ask her” AIN’T EASY AT ALL! Also, an extensive four-person survey I did on Gchat and Slack 10 minutes before writing this proved that there are at least two other people not sure what to call their mothers-in-law, which officially makes this an epidemic. (For what it’s worth, both of the men I asked are in the same boat as me, while the women were both like “You’re running out of things to write about, aren’t you?” Maybe there’s a there-there.)

Again, though. We seem to have a good system now, so there might not even be a need to change. (And, now that I think about it, I don’t remember her ever calling me “Damon.” Maybe she’s writing a blog about it too.)



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Queen Sugar’s fourth season has not disappointed one bit. Not that I expected it to, but the writers continuously find new ways to hit us with shit we absolutely did not see coming. This week’s episode was no different. I had enough moments that elicited a physical reaction in episode 4, “Skin Transparent,” that I decided that 1) I had to write about it; 2) the only way I could write about it was to recap it in GIFs. Buckle up, Buttercup: Nova Bordelon has leveled up the trash game to new heights.


We open up with Nova outchea sad that nobody is returning her calls and apparently the only person who wants anything to do with her is Young Protegé, Micah West, who apparently is also on the outs with his boo because he’s going full light-skinned and you never go full light-skinned. 

Charley and her new boo Romero (I’m not sure he’s really a new boo anymore) legit got up a whole-ass clinic in like a week. They’re efficient as hell.

And because Charley is a mix between Olivia Pope and apparently Clarence Avant, she both managed to find out who sent Micah those threatening letters AND the person is now in police custody.


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It’s mid-July, which means it’s almost August, which means it’s almost fall, which means it’s almost that time of year when everything dies, which means you’ll soon be contemplating your own dwindling mortality and inevitable death. Since we don’t have much time left, we need to spend as much of it as possible living our very best alive-ass lives. Apparently, there’s a whole entire Megan Thee Stallion-inspired movement devoted to doing exactly that. (There’s also a thing called a City Boy Summer, which to me sounds like you just work at an inner-city non-profit.)


But what if you can’t really deal with all of that Hot Girl/Boy Summer heat because you’re experimenting with a new charcoal-based deodorant and you’re not that comfortable being overheated around crowds yet? What if things like “moving your lips while talking to people” just seems too time- and energy-consuming? How do you live your best midsummer life then? Fortunately, I’m currently in the midst of an Appropriately Chilled Kombucha Boy Summer, and I can share some tips on how to be more like me.

1. Drink all the kombuchas, even the ones that come in bottles.

Wait,” I can hear you asking “there are kombuchas other than the ones that come in bottles?” This is the sort of question I’m here for because if you were already living your best Appropriately Chilled Kombucha Boy Summer, you’d already know you can get kombucha on tap. You wouldn’t even step foot twice in an establishment that didn’t have it. But, if you want to continue to slum with bottled kombuchas, both the Watermelon Wonder and the Guava Goodness flavors of GT’s KOMBUCHA are the best.


2. Randomly do 20 pushups before going to an event.

Although doing this adds absolutely, positively nothing to your look, you’ll feel like your muscles are a bit bulkier than usual, which will make you walk around with your chest out and your head high as everyone (in your head) admires the musculature you (don’t) possess. You might even offer to grab things off of shelves, so people will think, “Wow. That kombucha boy with the brolic forearms is also quite magnanimous.

3. Wear shirts while in public.

4. Record yourself doing the laziest possible workout at the gym, and then post it to social media with a hashtag like #itsGodsfault or #blamehim.

If your work out of choice is basketball—like mine is—don’t actually record yourself playing in an actual game. But wait until everyone leaves, and see how many threes you can make in an empty gym with no defense as I did!


5. Say things like, “Are you sure that’s filtered?” and “Maybe a rug would add more heat to this room” and “Does that Uber has a changing table?”

6. Watch Euphoria.

Don’t even tell people anymore that you only watch it because it comes on after Big Little Lies and you’re too lazy to change the channel. I mean, you are too lazy to change the channel. That’s true. But even a slightly more energetic you would still watch.

7. Sleep for 13 hours a day.

Steve Harvey caught some heat for saying that rich people don’t sleep eight hours a day, but he was right! If you’re rich with appropriately chilled kombucha, you don’t even get out of bed unless it’s to restock.

8. Rock crooked sunglasses when at parties.

Of course, if you’ve developed a sunlight sensitivity over the past several years—like I have—the sunglasses are practical. But when people see you, they’re not going to think, “Look at that guy with the sunlight sensitivities.” Instead, it’ll be “Look at that Appropriately Chilled Kombucha Boy living his best life. I bet he has TSA PreCheck.” And if the glasses also happen to be crooked, then they’ll think, “I know that Appropriately Chilled Kombucha Boy ain’t a pimp, but his glasses have a lean. I bet he’s carrying a Container Store gift card in his wallet.”



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Unless lawsuits against it are successful, the Trump Administration is planning to carry out immigration raids of homes and workplaces across the country starting on Sunday (July 14), reports The New York Times. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will target at least 2,000 people who have been ordered deported but remain in the country. The raids may also capture people in their proximity such as children. 

Democracy Now reports that ICE raids will take place in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. Raids were set to take place in New Orleans but the city announced that ICE will postpone the roundups due to Tropical Storm Barry. There are lots of resources online for how to cope with raids. Here are a few of the best:

Emergency Planning

Colorlines sums up what you should do in advance of raids. » We Have Rights campaign offers a preparedness tip sheet that you can download and fill out along with helpful tips for how to store it. The sheet prompts you to list out essential information including your emergency contacts, your consulate and your child’s medication. » Immigrant Legal Resource Center has tips in English and Spanish to help prepare children for possible family separation. » National Immigration Project has a comprehensive illustrated guide to handling a number of situations. 

Know Your Rights

​​​​We Have Rights has animated videos voiced by Jesse Williams that run you through what to do if ICE comes to your home, stops you in the street or comes to your job. Languages include Spanish, Arabic and Haitian Kreyol. » The ACLU presents a range of scenarios, including being stopped in the street.  » Toward the bottom of the page, the American Immigration Lawyers Association has a list of rapid response hotlines in select cities and states. »The Immigrant Defense Project, a clearinghouse of information generated by organizations around the country, has six infrographics that show you how to deal with ICE at your door, in English and Spanish. They include a list of lies that ICEagents routinely tell people. Top ruse: ICE agents pretend to be local police. » Also from the Immigrant Defense Project are know-your-rights posters and booklets in 16 languages. ​​​​​​

Finding Legal Help

Informed Immigrant has a database of service organizations searchable by zip code and coded according to what they do, from providing legal help to connecting you to mental healthcare. » The National Immigration Law Project has a searchable network of attorneys in many states. » The ACLU compiled a list of large national organizations that provide legal help to immigrants. 



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“Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation,” Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted yesterday (July 14) to her fellow women House representatives of color: Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Barbara Lee(D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa.), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.). Tlaib’s response was part of a Twitter storm unleashed on President Donald Trump following a series of racist tweets on Sunday (July 14) that included the sentence: “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

His comments were apparently directed at Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley and Tlaib—three of whom were born United States citizens, while Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and came to the U.S. as a teenager—and the representatives, and their supporters, did not hold back.



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Over the weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials embarked on a relatively small operation to arrest immigrants of undocumented status, Reuters reports. President Donald Trump first announced the raid in June via Twitter, where he promised widespread, mass deportations of “millions” of immigrants across the United States.

Immigrants and advocates were bracing for the worst, with many expecting thousands of arrests to take place on Sunday (July 14). However, according to Reuters, “there were only reports of low-profile operations in a few cities.”

Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mary Bauer told the news agency that large southern cities like Atlanta actually saw no ICE arrests over the weekend. “Immigrants and immigrant communities all over the country are in hiding and people are living in these terrified, terrorized ways, because that is the point of this whole action, whether enforcement actions take place or not,” said Bauer.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also said there were no ICEarrests in his city. “This is a political act by this president, he’s politicized a United States government agency to help him win re-election,” he told Reuters. 

And though no immigrants of undocumented status were arrested in Miami, a representative of the Florida Immigrant Coalition posted on Facebook that some fearful immigrants were sheltering at home. “They’ve been stocking up on groceries and making plans to stay in their homes with the lights off and the blinds down,” the group posted. “Some are staying home from work.”

The news outlet pointed out that ICE arrests thousands of immigrants in a typical week, per government records. Most of those raids, however, are not posted on Twitter by the president of the United States. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for ICE declined to give Reuters a comment on the agency’s operations, citing the safety of the agency’s personnel.



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On Tuesday (July 9), oral arguments begin in a case that could result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance. And as a three-judge panel at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans listens, a contingent of Americans—from youth advocates to physicians—are making their voices heard in support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The lawsuit at the heart of Texas v. United States​ was filed February 2018 by two Republican governors and five Republic attorneys general against the federal government. “A question at the heart of the case is whether the Affordable Care Act’s mandate requiring most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty remained constitutional after Congress eliminated the penalty as part of the tax overhaul that Mr. Trump signed in 2017,” reports The New York Times.

If the mandate is deemed unconstitutional, it leaves open the question of whether the rest of the ACA can function without it. In December, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth, Texas said it could not and that the entire law must be dismantled. The appeals court hearing will now decide if O’Connor’s decision should be overturned.

Without the ACA, there would be an increase of almost 20 million people without insurance, according to Urban Institute. An additional estimated 52 million adults ages 18 to 64 could be denied coverage that they now qualify for if ACA provisions such as the mandate that people with pre-existing conditions be insured are revoked. There also would not be a cap for out-of-pocket medical costs that insured Americans would have to pay. Since the ACA was put into effect in 2014, Black and Latinx Americans have had the greatest decrease in the number of people who are uninsured. 

The fight to save the ACA is led by many groups, including the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA), which today announced a rollout of digital and print ads focused on the attorneys general who filed the lawsuit.

“President Trump may call the GOP ‘the party of health care,’ but the truth is these Republican AGs are in court this week trying to sabotage health care coverage for millions of Americans,” Farah Melendez, political director for DAGA said in an emailed statement. “These health care hypocrites are attacking the critical care people in their states rely on to go to the doctor, afford prescription medication, and take care of sick kids and family members.”


Health Care for America Now and Physicians’ for Reproductive Health are asking Americans to share their stories about how their lives will be upturned if the ACA is repealed, both online and in public rallies. And other organizations are using social media to speak up. 

Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit that fights for the rights of youth globally, have also stepped into the fight. “It is the height of irresponsibility to rob millions of young people of the health coverage they need. The ACA goes a long way toward affording young people the opportunity to take care of their health and plan their futures. The Fifth Circuit must overturn this decision and uphold medical best practices, common sense, and basic human decency,” Debra Hauser, president of the organization, said in an emailed statement.

Legal experts predict that the case will eventually go to the Supreme Court of the United States, likely around the time of the 2020 presidential election.





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Spoilers for “Pose” follow.

On Tuesday’s (July 9) episode of “Pose”—written by series creators Janet Mock and  Ryan Murphy, who also directed the episode—viewers were confronted with the brutal reality of violence against transgender women. In an interview with Deadline, Mock and Murphy discuss the way that Candy (played by Angelica Ross) died on the show.

“We were quite sure that we didn’t want it to be necessarily anchored around the epidemic of HIV/AIDS at the time,” Mock said. “Instead, we wanted to really concentrate on the epidemic of violence that trans women are facing, not just back then but today. And we wanted to illustrate what loss looks like for this community in a very deep and impactful and grounded way.”

Per the Human Rights Campaign, 13 trans women of color (all but one identified as Black) have been killed so far this year.

“We have this duty and this burden of occupying this space on television which is so accessible to millions of people, that we needed to have our viewers that were watching, who are just being introduced to this world and to these characters, that they need to also feel that loss…someone who was beloved, someone who stole scenes and someone who had these iconic moments on the show. So, because we had all these touchstones with her for 11 episodes prior, we knew she was the right person,” Mock said.

“We spent a lot of time talking about and plotting it out and working with the actors. It’s important to talk about this issue right now in our culture when so many trans women are being killed and they’re headlines. At best, they’re on page 24 in a newspaper and then the next day they’re gone and forgotten,” said Murphy. “We didn’t want to do anything gratuitous. We wanted you to know the characters, we wanted you to be invested in them. Because I feel so many times there is the trope of ‘kill your LGBTQ characters.’ Sometimes as a plot point, as opposed to a character development point.”

Read the full interview here.



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Every day there is a new example of how immigrants in the United States are blatantly dehumanized. It’s time we recognize this as a systemic issue and pass legislation to address one of its root causes.

This culture of hate and bias was evident most recently when ProPublica published its exposé on a secret Facebook group of about 9,500 former and current U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents. The details are enraging: Members from the group casually mocked the deaths of a detained Guatemalan teenager and a father and daughter who drowned in a river searching for refuge. They also devised plans to throw burritos at Latinx Congress members during their visits to border detention facilities. Throughout these exchanges, they used inexcusable and sexually degrading images nonchalantly. Soon after, CNN discovered a second Facebook groupof CBP officers espousing similar views. 

It is no secret that the Trump administration has fueled a White nationalist fervor across the country.  President Trump’s now infamous 2018 comment—”These aren’t people. These are animals.”—is a powerful example of how our leaders use degrading language in an attempt to justify the implementation of cruel policies. It is also no secret that racism is deeply rooted in our country’s history and more embedded in our federal institutions than we’d like to admit. 

This is why to simply treat this latest example as a case of “a few bad apples” is to completely miss the point: our U.S. immigration enforcement apparatus not only creates the conditions and the power dynamics for this kind of vile behavior to exist in the first place, but it also fuels hate. 

As the ProPublica article highlights, the process of dehumanization begins with words, but it does not end there.  Words—when weaponized as threats—translate into acts of violence. A carceral setting, such as immigration detention, that offers few protections, compounded by a sheer lack of transparency and accountability, will inevitably lead to systematic abuses of authority.  

Last year, our organization, Freedom for Immigrants, released a report documenting at least 800 complaints on abuse motivated by hate or bias in ICE detention between January 20, 2017 and June 2018. We tracked incidents of hate and bias as a result of a person’s perceived race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.  It wasn’t simply the fact that immigrants in detention were being called derogatory terms that was disturbing, but that each verbal incident we documented was followed by an action that often led to different—and more serious—forms of mistreatment. 

In fact, we documented verbal abuse that led to physical abuse, sexual assault, denial of medical services, retaliatory use of solitary confinement and denial of visits. In one case, a guard at the Bristol County House of Corrections in Massachusetts told a detained immigrant that he would “bet for him in a fight against another detainee.” The man in detention refused to fight and was consequently denied hygiene products as well as meals. When he tried to issue a complaint, the guard compared him to a monkey saying, “No one will believe baboon complaints.”

We know that stories like these are just the tip of the iceberg and many of them go unreported in the ever-growing mass incarceration of immigrants. For example, in 2017 a group of detained individuals of Iraqi origin claimed in a lawsuit that they were being called “Al-Qaeda” and “camel jockeys” and other atrocious slurs by ICE and contractors while being denied adequate food and medical care. A 2018 report found that a number of African immigrants detained at the privately-operated West Texas Detention Facility were called racial slurs by guards and subjected to arbitrary use of force, such as being pepper-sprayed. Another study along the border by the Center for Migration Studies found that anti-immigrant statements by border patrol agents often involved threats and physical abuse. One of the men surveyed recounted being shoved to the floor by an agent after he yelled at him, “go back to your country.”

Although Freedom for Immigrants’ report led to an internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, we have not seen any improvement in the way immigrant prison guards are trained. We also haven’t seen any guards held accountable or facilities closed for being noncompliant with ICE’s own federal standards. We have actually seen the exact opposite.  

While we continue to document hundreds more complaints of abuse motivated by hate or bias, people who are trying to offer care to migrants are being prosecuted, as in the case of activists with the humanitarian aid group No More Death/No Más Muertes.

Making sure that those civil servants who have disparaged or mistreated people in their care be held accountable for their actions would be a good start, but it’s not nearly enough. Individual acts of abuse and human rights violations are symptomatic of a larger issue. The core of the problem lies in the nature of the U.S. immigration detention system, which breeds a culture of impunity and violence. 

There are a number of ways you can help right now to change this. One quick and easy way of making sure that immigrants are not being subjected to mistreatment is by donating to immigration bond fundsWe, along with over 20 other organizations around the country, run bond funds to ensure that people are freed as soon as possible—especially those who are acutely suffering on the inside.  

Another way can help is by bearing witness. We run a national network of 55 visitation groups across the country that not only help break the isolation of detained individuals but also monitor the facilities for human rights violations. With over 200 ICE jails and prisons in the country that are as transparent as a wall of bricks, and with more popping up under the Trump Administration, there is a critical need for people to conduct regular visits.

After you visit a detention facility, you can call or engage with your local elected officials. Think of it this way: Who will speak up for those individuals detained in your backyard if ICE or prison guards are continuously trying to silence them? Constituents have the power to relay these stories to their elected officials and pressure them into taking action, which leads us to our next step.   

Ultimately, what we need is a complete dismantling of this shadowy network of jails and prisons, starting with putting a stop to their growth. Legislation introduced by Sen. Kamala Harris of California and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, known as the Detention Oversight Not Expansion (DONE) Act, would help accomplish this. Not one more dollar of our taxpayer money should go toward a system that only serves to further demean immigrants.

Christina Fialho is an attorney and the co-founder and executive director of Freedom for Immigrants.

Liz Martinez is communications director for Freedom for Immigrants. 



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