A closer look at the black women making headlines and breaking barriers this week.
Black women are everything.
I say it without reservation or hesitation. I say it with personal experience and anecdotal knowledge. We. Are. Everything.
Need someone to replace your contaminated water pipes? We can do that. Need someone to tell off Paul Ryan? We can do that. Need someone to help you master a skateboard trick? We can do that too. Try to keep up.
Our talent, know-how, grace, and grit is unparalleled. There’s only one problem: No one seems to care.
At least not visibly — not when it matters. In the spirit of intersectionality, black women cape for black men, we support women, other POC, people with disabilities, and our LGBTQ family. But who is championing, listening to, trusting, and promoting us? Fine, we can do that too.
This is the beginning of a weekly column dedicated to signal-boosting the black women who make the world spin.
From tastemakers and politicians, to women making a name for themselves in their communities, these are people whose stories merit attention and enthusiasm.
Let’s go ahead and give them their roses. Here are the women I’m here for this week — support them, believe them, and celebrate them.
“We’ve Got Your Back”: Janet Jackson and Lola Olufemi
- Justin Timberlake is headlining the Super Bowl halftime show. He has yet to formally apologize to Janet Jackson for exposing her breast during the halftime show 13 years ago. Janet released a video apology to the nation, alone. Justin got to make light of the situation the next week at the Grammy’s. Janet Jackson was asked not to present at the same show.
That’s why the hashtag #JusticeForJanet came about. You don’t get to use black women to climb the ladder of success then push us back down when we no longer suit you.
- Across the pond, Cambridge student Lola Olufemi joined together with other students to write an open letter about improving the university’s English department. It included suggestions for creating a more inclusive canon and improving representation among the authors and viewpoints. (You can read the entire thing here.) Soon after, Olufemi’s simple, clear proposal was mischaracterized and demonized on the front page of The Daily Telegraph, who suggested she was trying to drop white authors, including Shakespeare, altogether. The paper has since printed a tiny apology, but the damage is done. We know the truth, sis.
“We Believe You”: Myeshia Johnson and Kitti Jones
- Myeshia Johnson is a mother of two, pregnant with her third child. Her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, was killed in action and the president of the United States continues to call her a liar, saying he remembered her husband’s name without hesitation. (Johnson says this is not case.) I have no reason to doubt the words of Myeshia Johnson, who bravely told her story on ABC this week, but have every reason to doubt the story of a serial liar. We see you and we believe you, Myeshia. (We believe you too Rep. Frederica Wilson.)
- Kitti Jones shared her gut-wrenching story of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at the hands of R&B legend R. Kelly in Rolling Stone. Kelly’s reps deny the claims, but Jones’ account reads like many of the women who’ve come before her. Will it finally be enough for Kelly to lose credibility with his fans?
“Go off, sis”: Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay recently accepted Smithsonian magazine’s American Ingenuity Award. The award honors great talents and contributions in eight categories: technology, performing arts, visual arts, life sciences, physical sciences, history, social progress, and youth. DuVernay picked up the honor for visual arts for her work in TV and film. And if that’s not enough, check out this clip from “Finding Your Roots” when she discovers her genetic makeup is majority African. Her smile is like standing in a sunbeam.
Final thoughts: Robin Thede
Robin Thede, host of “The Rundown with Robin Thede” will deliver this week’s final thoughts:
Career tip: it’s hard to lean in when you’re being pushed out
— Robin Thede (@robinthede) October 26, 2017
I’ll be here next week with more women to celebrate, support, and signal boost. If you know a black woman that I should feature, send me some links.