All Articles Tagged "black women"

Why More Black Women Need To Be Mentors

July 26th, 2016 - By Deja Jones
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Women are multifaceted gems and we wear several hats, each one becoming more and more decorated as we get older. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, wives, career women, and most importantly, the nurturers and providers for the next generation we usher in. However, as we get older, we go through several transitions that can sometimes be very uncomfortable and difficult to manage. We are faced with many cultural and political dilemmas that we are often unprepared to deal with. Having someone there to walk with us and guide us through these changes can make all the difference.

It’s not a secret that Black girls face quite a few disparities due to race and gender. Overall, Black girls have become overpoliced and underprotected and most certainly forgotten in several different movements and intervention plans. Although we excel at greater rates than any other subgroup, we still have a hard time carving out our own careers paths, which is why it is important for Black women to take on mentorship roles for the Black girls coming up behind us.

A mentoring relationship between Black women and Black girls encourages them to break through stereotypes and helps to create a pathway for them to be leaders in the future. Mentoring allows young women the chance to spend time with a caring and supportive woman invested in their success. There is even more of a need for this in urban communities. The statistics for teenage pregnancy (despite declining), high school dropout rates, and early sexual activity is high. Providing these young women with the support and education they need to prevent these hurdles from halting their goals gives them a better chance at reaching and finishing college as well as venturing into a career. As it’s not just our Black boys who fall victim to the school-to-prison pipeline, but our Black girls as well, mentoring is a great way to intervene to combat such roadblocks.

Young women, especially those in our urban communities, need positive female role models. Women who have overcome obstacles to become successful in their own lives and can share their testimony and support. It is imperative for these girls to have examples of women who have gained strength by coming together to network, and for them to learn the importance of giving back to their neighborhoods (even if they don’t feel that they’ve obtained much from them).

According to The Office of Juvenile Justice Programs, showed that 87 percent of young women who attended mentoring programs went to college within two years of high school graduation; 52 percent were less likely to become pregnant during their teenage years; and 46 percent were less likely to use illegal drugs and alcohol. 

With the lack of positive representation of Black women on television, it is important for positive role models, in real life, to step up and teach our young girls. Women are tasked with the responsibility of ushering in new generations and nurturing, shaping and molding the minds of children. But if the women are not being nurtured, shaped and molded into responsible, compassionate and successful adults while in their younger years when there are plenty people who stand by and watch them struggle, who do we then blame for a wayward, lost and crime-filled generation to come? This is why we can’t forget our young women. Mentorship matters. 

“I Love You For What You’ve Done For Black Women” Leslie Jones Expresses Her Love For Whoopi Goldberg

July 15th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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We speak all the time about the importance of representation. The importance of people, particularly children and people of color, seeing others like them in the arts, in political office, in the STEM field, in media…in anything really. The confidence that you can be or become something when there’s someone who looks like you already doing it, has a powerful affect on the psyche.

We see examples of it everyday. But on a recent episode of “The View,” there was a pretty high profile one when Leslie Jones thanked Whoopi Goldberg for her influence.

Jones was absolutely giddy as she talked about the impact Whoopi had on her life.

“I’m going to do this without trying to get emotional. When I was young, my dad always listen to comedy albums and I always knew about comedy. I always loved comedy. The day that I saw Whoopi Goldberg on television I cried so hard because I kept looking at my daddy ‘Oh my God, there’s somebody on tv that looks like me. She looks like me. I can be on tv. I can be on tv. I can do it. Look at her, look at her. She looks just like me.’ My dad recored it for me and I literally watched it everyday after school.”

Then she briefly shared a story of her using one of Whoopi’s schticks in her communication class in college. Then she got more serious.

“I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart because now I know what I’m doing that when I put on that Ghostbusters suit, and little girls see me on tv now, now they’re going to go ‘I can do it.’ And you gave that… you gave that to me. And I love you. I love you from my heart and my soul and I love you for what you’ve done for Black women. I love you for what you’ve done for Black comediennes and I love you.”

I’ve seen this video about four or five times now and I still shed tears when I watch it. Mostly because I know the power of seeing Black women do what you want to do. I know the power of watching someone do something and knowing, on a spiritual, almost supernatural level, that that’s what you want to do as well. And I can understand why she had to thank Whoopi so sincerely. While we may feel we’re living our lives, chasing our dreams and achieving our goals for ourselves, none of us exist in a vacuum. Having the courage and the strength to pursue our goals gives others the power, inspiration and, in some cases, the permission to do the same.

“Where Are Your Kim K’s Now?” Crissle Comes For Straight, Black Men Who Don’t Want Intersectionality In The Movement

July 12th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

At this time, going through what our country is going through, there is no room and no time for division. And I’m not just talking about outside of the community, I’m talking about within the Black community. Crissle, the host of the popular podcast “The Read” made that point yesterday when someone tried to come for Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson.

The tweet has been deleted, but essentially, this person said that they were not going to follow DeRay because he is gay.

Now, I don’t have to tell y’all how DeRay has been one of the front men of the movement. He has sacrificed his time, talent, and most recently, his freedom for the cause of our people. But because someone assumed he was gay, he was not worth following. For some reason, we have yet to realize that as a marginalized, oppressed people it is dangerous to turn our attention to attacking other marginalized and oppressed people, like women, like the LGBT community etc. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s not productive.

Crissle was here for none of it. And after that tweet, she, rightly, went off.

See what she had to say in the series of tweets below.

There’s really not much else to say. This is nothing but facts. The idea that straight, Black men, in the little bit of privilege and power they yield in this misogynistic society, want to turn around and dismiss, degrade or ignore the issues of people within their own community is deplorable, yet prevalent. And if we’re ever going to get free in this country, not only do we need call out the perpetrators of this system, we need to be willing to fight for those unlike ourselves.

Is Your Self-Esteem Tied To Your Accomplishments?

June 27th, 2016 - By Erica R. Williams
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“So what are you doing now?”

It’s the question I hear quite often these days from inquisitive folks wanting to know about my latest accomplishments. “I always have something going on,” they’d say after I coyly mentioned my latest endeavors and successes. I’ve always been an achievement-oriented type of person, like many other people; but until recently I saw nothing wrong with it. In fact, I thought it was an admirable trait. I was a busy girl. I hustled, always striving for success. That is until I realized that I was allowing my accomplishments and what other people deemed as successful to define who I was. My longing to say “Mama I made it!” was making me a nervous wreck. My happiness was tied to what I did and not who I was. It didn’t take an Iyanla: Fix My Life intervention for me to make this revelation. And after talking to other women, I made another not-so-shocking discovery: I wasn’t alone.

Black women are progressing in leaps and bounds when it comes to education and career. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Black women are the most educated group in the United States. Black women enroll in college more than any other race, and to make that good news even better, most of us graduate, too. Often times, we get even more ambitious and pursue master’s degrees and Ph.D.’s.

Here’s another fact to toot our own horns: Black women are also the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. According to a 2015 State of Women-Owned Business Report, businesses owned by black women have grown by a whopping 322 percent since 1997. Now that’s the epitome of progression.

So why am I running down these number in comparison to my self-worth issues? Not because our achievements don’t deserve recognition and accolades. But rather, because it’s an issue when we depend on the praises of others to increase our self-worth. I realized how I became so consumed with becoming one of these positive statistics. My ego needed a success story to fulfill me. While some people unfortunately tie their self-esteem to their physical appearance, for years, mine had been based on what I’d done and how far up the status ladder I was climbing. It was exhausting, not to mention damn near depressing.

After coming to a career crossroad, having to decide on a glamorous but personally unfulfilling career versus one that was less glamorous but more enriching, I decided to focus on my own definition of success. My happiness was now at the forefront, and my accomplish-driven ego had to take a back seat.

To be clear, setting goals and crushing them is still my motto, but it isn’t at the expense of my happiness. I’m not chasing dreams so that I can update social media accounts to appear successful (let’s not pretend that this isn’t a prevalent activity even among grown-ups). Instead, I’m chasing them to fulfill a purpose. My purpose. No longer do I feel compelled to live up to what others expect me to do or to achieve. My goals are rooted in my purpose and my definition of success. That definition can be explained best in the words of Dr. Maya Angelou who said that success is liking myself, what I do, and how I do it. That has now become my greatest accomplishment.

This Campaign Is On A Mission To Celebrate The Beauty Of Black Women

June 26th, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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Photo Credit: Joey Rosado/ @islandboiphotography

Photo Credit: Joey Rosado/ @islandboiphotography

The beauty of blackness is both powerful and infinite. However, throughout history, blackness has been devalued, especially when it comes to women. Whether it be our full noses, kinky, coily texture of our hair, curvaceous build of our bodies, or the melanin that enriches our complexions, we’re always made known just how different we are. And with societal pressures to denounce everything that makes of beautiful and unique, there’s come psychological effects like the divide between light and dark-skinned women.

Slowly but surely, we’ve seen various efforts to do away with conventional beauty standards, reminding us that everyone no matter their skin color is beautiful. The “Colored Girl” campaign (TCG), is one that we’ve recently had or eyes on. With an aim of celebrating black women of every size, shape, and skin tone, the campaign just launched with a beautifully striking photo series shot by Joey Rosado featuring 10 gorgeous ladies, each with their own unique look.

Thank you all for making The “Colored” Girl campaign come to life. #TCG Tag a Queen!!

A photo posted by The “C” Girl (@thecgirlinc) on

“I started the ‘The Colored Girl’ Project because I wanted to show the different aspects of beauty as it pertains to Black women,” said TCG founder Tori Elizabeth in an interview with Essence. “I wanted to highlight and celebrate our unique beauty: our eyes, our lips, our cheekbones. I wanted women from different social and cultural backgrounds. I wanted women with angular eyes, women with freckles and fair skin, and women with really rich, ebony skin. It’s so important to be proud of who we are and showcase the beauty of blackness.”

We’re excited to see what other great initiatives come to life from the birth of TCG.

Angela Bassett Has A Skincare Line For Black Women Coming Soon

June 23rd, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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Photo Credit: WENN.com

Photo Credit: WENN.com

There are a few celebrities that come to mind when we think of agelessness, mostly in hopes of one day finding out what water or secret elixir they can credit their flawlessness too.

Well, actress Angela Bassett  is about to help us all out with a major key. Skincare!  As we all know, the 57-year-old, who currently stars on The American Horror Story, is known not just for her superb acting chops but her radiant, youthful glow.

Bassett has tapped her longtime doctor and aesthetic specialist Dr. Barbara Sturm to launch a skincare line for women of color. Called “Darker Skin Tones by Dr. Barbara Sturm,” the line focuses on issues that black women commonly face, ranging from inflammation, unevenness, pore size and hyperpigmentation. Ladies can look forward to five various products from the line. There’s a foam cleanser, an enzyme cleanser, face cream and accompanying creme, and a hyaluronic serum, all of which feature purslane, which is said to be the key ingredient that will make a world of difference in black women’s skin.

Bassett can vouch for such a claim as she’s used it over the years with Sturm own original skincare line. It “works against natural programmed cell death,” Sturm told WWD. “Not only do we [address] anti-inflammation and the evening out of skin tone but also a big thing for anti-aging.”

With the official release of Darker Skin Tones by Dr. Barbara Sturm set for an exclusive launch in July at Harrods (online and in-store), Bassett is hopeful that the line will aid people in learning “what is good for [their skin] and ingredients that are helpful — not invasive or irritating,” she told WWD.

No word on if there will be a separate American launch, but thankfully Harrods offers international shipping.

#FlashbackFriday: Monique Foreshadowed Reality TV’s Detrimental Effect On Black Women 9 Years Ago

June 10th, 2016 - By Brande Victorian
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VH1

VH1

This morning, the editors and I took a trip down reality TV memory lane and landed on an episode of one of the first shows to solidify the sustainability of the genre, Flavor of Love‘s little sister, Charm School. Don’t ask how we got there, just know that we did, starting with the time Mo’Nique gave Larissa, aka Boots, a read before we even called it a read.

That heated interaction was only one of many between the ladies, and it came to ahead during the Charm School reunion which aired July 8, 2007, and gave an eerie foreshadowing of the tumultuous relationship Black women and reality TV would have for years to come and which we’re currently still living through.

Continuing to feel singled out (even after Mo’Nique told her she wasn’t special enough for her to care about that much), Boots again questioned the “Headmistress” for picking on her throughout the show, which even caused Boots’ mother to step out of the audience during the reunion and tell Mo’Nique “you don’t run up on a young lady like that.” It was at that point that Mo’Nique asked, “Well when were you gonna walk up on her?” And then the real gems came:

“The reason I wanted you here today was not so you and I could have a confrontation because, from Black woman to Black woman, I’ve got nothing but love for you sister and I got nothing but love for that one,” Mo’Nique stated.

“As I’ve said from the beginning, be careful what you do and be careful what you say because the camera’s picking up every single thing and you don’t have to keep putting yourself out there like that. And then you have to ask the question: When that airs to America, how do we hold our head up with dignity? How do we put our heads back up? How do we walk down the street when a little girl of 10 says to Larissa, ‘you told that b-tch something!’ What do we say to her? What do we say to her? What do we do about that sista? That’s my point.

“I love [Larissa] so much. I stepped up on you because I love you just that much that I’m willing to put my sh-t on the line to say if you wanna swing, if you wanna fight, I’ll give you all of that. But when we’re done, I’ma (sic) stand you up and love on you. That’s what I’m trying to tell you Larissa, you’re letting life beat you up in such a way and ain’t nobody stepping to her and saying come here, let me put my arms around you. Let me love on you baby. ‘Cuz see I’m 40 years old, that baby ain’t even 25 yet and the way she’s going right now sista, one day she’s gonna run into somebody that’s just like her, that’s just like her, and they ain’t gone back down from her and then you’re gonna get a phone call and it ain’t gone be nice.

“Sis, I’m fighting for your baby sista. We gotta regain our respect sista. We gotta regain it. We gotta get it back…”

After Larissa questioned Mo’Nique’s authenticity, saying she only appeared on the show for a check, a strong sense of déjà vu came over me.

“Let me tell you why this show was number one in Black America,” Mo’Nique started. “I heard the response, it was coming from nothing but Black women and they all said, including me before I got to the show, ‘Oh my God is this who we are? Is this what we represent?’ Telling somebody to kiss it, lick it, suck it, stick it, eff you, you’re a monkey. I said you deserve more, you deserve better; c’mon baby, put your best foot forward.”

And here we are in 2016 having the exact same conversation, just with different players.

I’ll be honest, I lived for episodes of Charm School. Watching the show with my roommates was an event, and as a senior in college I didn’t see the connection between the image of Black women on TV and the perception people would have of me when they saw me on the street as a result. I also didn’t recognize the behavior of the cast members as the antics of broken women. I was entertained and would continue to be for some years after, until I was flipping through channels on a TV in the gym a few years ago and a white woman suggested I stop on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. “I just love those ladies,” she giddily told me and I couldn’t help but question why.

Aside from Nene Leakes, reality TV has rarely done Black women any favors. And I don’t mean that in the sense that now I have to wonder if white people assume when I leave work I meet up with women I don’t like just to throw drinks at them because of how we’re portrayed on TV. I can combat that nonsensical stereotyping on my own. The ones who really deserve compassion and concern are the women who don’t realize they’re being exploited and need someone to love on them, as Mo’Nique would say, not manipulate the entire trajectory of their lives (and those of their children in some cases) for the promise of a few thousand followers on Instagram and a liquor, weave, or waist trainer line of their choice.

When I look at the paths Amina Butterfly and Tara Wallace are on, when I see how post-sex tape Mimi Faust has turned out, when I recognize Evelyn Lozada as that angry girl Mo’Nique alluded to who one day met her match that didn’t back down, and when I realize Shay didn’t learn a damn thing from Charm School and continued to be played by VH1 years later on Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta, I’m not entertained; I’m sad. But unlike previous commentaries from the elitist camp only concerned about how the actions of these women affect them, I want these women to do better, not for my sake, but for themselves. To realize the residual damage of 15 minutes of ill-gotten fame is rarely worth it because when producers move on to warping the next victim’s reality, they’re the ones stuck with the permanence of the choices they made when the cameras were rolling temporarily.

If you know how to play the game, like a Nene Leakes or a Kandi Burruss, by all means play ball. But if you’re looking to reality TV to fill a void, it’s not going to work out sis. Like any relationship, you have to know and love yourself before you get into bed with the entertainment industry. If more women did, we likely wouldn’t see the images we do anyhow.

The Things You Find Beautiful Reveal Something About Yourself

May 31st, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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The Things You Find Beautiful Reveal Something About Yourself

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I love going to the Brooklyn Art Museum’s annual Dance Africa festival. Not only are there tons of artists and Black entrepreneurs selling their wares, there are Black people dancing, eating, laughing, talking and socializing in peace. It’s an incredible scene.

So incredible that I often find myself looking at hair styles and fashion choices for inspiration. My sister, who was with me, does the same thing. As we were walking out of the festival, heading back to the Subway, she noticed a woman who had insanely long locs. But they weren’t hanging down her back. Instead, they were braided into large plaits and then pinned into a massive updo. Some would call it a bun. But it was so big, I’m not surely exactly how to classify it. She had a scarf wrapped around the perimeter, holding it up.

The style was so impressive that my sister complimented the woman.

“Your hair is so beautiful!”

Instead of the traditional thank you, the woman said, “Ooo sista, I’m only reflecting your beauty.”

I immediately laughed.

That’s another thing about these street festivals, they had a tendency to attract the super deep, nuts and berries, crystals-used-as-deodorant type of Black folks. And, just so you know, with locs of my own, I’ve been called the nuts and berries type before. With my locs also in a wrap, there might have been a few people who lumped me in that category this past weekend. You know how stereotypes go.

But as we were walking away, laughing. I thought about the statement for a second. And when I actually considered it, it did make sense.

Follow me.

We all know that it’s our own perceptions, experiences and attitudes that influence the world we see. When you’re in a funk, the world seems to be dark and gloomy. When we’re up, the sun seems to shine brighter, music is sweeter etc. The world is always what it is. It is we who frame it with our different lenses.

Surely, the same can be said with beauty.

We all know that beauty standards vary from culture to culture, from person to person. That very same day my sister, one of the vendors and I disagreed about whether or not it would be fly to put these two different prints together. They couldn’t see how it worked. I could. For whatever reason, there was something about those prints, together, that spoke to me and not them.

And the same could be said for that woman and my sister’s response to her. You’ve heard this concept before, articulated in a variety of ways. “Like attracts like.” “You are what you attract.” “Test the spirit by the spirit.” And my personal favorite, “Game recognize game.”

Earlier this year, Brande wrote about the thrill of being complimented by Black women, knowing that when a sista goes out of her way to compliment you, you’ve done something right. And that’s certainly true. But to take it a step further, the compliment is more than one directional, it’s a circle, simultaneously celebrating the one giving and receiving.

That loc-ed lady taught me a couple of things yesterday. One, a thing about beauty, both outside and within. And she also taught me to weigh the words before I laugh them off.

Why We Need More Black Girl Anthems

May 20th, 2016 - By Erica R. Williams
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Young black girl/woman in college listening to headphones/music, Shutterstock

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Nearly a month after dropping a surprise album, people of all races, backgrounds, and socioeconomic classes are still asking for more Lemonade. Why? Well, because it’s probably Beyoncé’s best work. But aside from the infectious hooks, jaw-dropping visuals, and FU given to cheating men, there is a deeper message in Beyoncé’s aesthetic album. This message affects one group in particular: Black women. Beyoncé reminded us (by way of Malcolm X) that “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” And though the civil rights leader said this more than 50 years ago, we needed someone, in the present day, of Beyoncé’s status and stature, to reiterate this sentiment, which still holds true today. We need anthems like “Formation” to remind us that yes, being a Black girl isn’t easy, but there is a power, also known as Black girl magic, in who we are.

Some may argue that songs won’t change the way Black women are treated or perceived in society, but music is a powerful weapon. And while it may not directly revamp the way everyone feels about us, it can help alter the way we feel about ourselves and other Black women. This, in turn, can indirectly initiate change.

It’s a fact that music affects moods, and according to researchers, it even affects the way people perceive the world. Black women have more than enough songs (most times delivered by Black men) that present us in a negative light. Either we’re bitter b—hes who are only good for pleasing a man sexually or we’re not good enough because we don’t fit a certain look or way of being. There aren’t enough songs reminding us of our beauty and ‘badass-ness’; and the ones that are out there, unfortunately, don’t make it to the mainstream airwaves. So when a star of Beyoncé’s caliber makes a visual album that highlights the strength and beauty of Black women, I can only be excited, and you should be too.

Nonetheless, not everyone is buying into Beyoncé’s delivery. Author and feminist bell hooks penned an essay on her website that accuses the pop singer of doing exactly what we are trying to do away with. Though she praises the album for creativity and “multidimensional images of Black female life,” she also says, “much of the album stays within a conventional stereotypical framework where the Black woman is always a victim.”

While Hooks is a respected feminist in her own right, we cannot pretend that Black women don’t usually end up with the short end of the stick. Acknowledging this doesn’t make us victims, but rather, we can relish in the fact that we usually overcome. And look good doing it. This is why songs like the ones Beyoncé is creating now are what we need more of. And while there are plenty of other Black artists who have been offering similar messages far longer than Bey (think Ledisi, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, India Arie, etc.), we still need those with the most power and influence as mainstream artists to make a concentrated effort to speak up for Black women.

#TravelTuesday: Lush Images Of Black Women Traveling Around The Globe

May 17th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Do you love to travel? Do you want to travel but don’t know where to go? The great thing about social media nowadays is that you can gain so much inspiration and so many ideas from other people. And at a time where there are travel sites and social media pages like Travel Noire and The Nomadness Travel Tribe, you can finally see more people who look like you globetrotting to places folks probably never would have touched down in a decade or two ago. Dubai, Greece, the Maldives, Peru, Guatemala–Black folks, Black women especially, are on the move. With that being said, and since #TravelTuesday often trends on Twitter, here are a few lush images of Black women just like you traveling far and wide. Check out where they touched down at in their pictures and start setting your own travel goals for this summer!

Greece