February 07, 2017

23 incredible black women whose words of wisdom you need to hear.

  By Erin Canty

Trust and listen to black women. This bears repeating: Trust and listen to black women.

We have not steered you wrong yet.

We built this country with grit and grace. We are smart. We are accomplished. We are talented beyond measure. We're leading start-ups and business empires. We're changing narratives. We're making art. We're making a difference. And yet, we are left behind, ignored, and underrepresented time and time again.

Yes, "Hidden Figures" is winning awards, but not before the real women that the movie was based on were summarily erased from history for over 50 years. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

But that pattern ends today. It's time to start listening.

Here's the three-step process for listening to black women:

  1. Listen to what black women have to say.
  2. Share what they say with your networks while giving them full credit.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 forever and ever.

It sounds easy. Most of you are doing it already. But in a society that's quick to ignore or minimize the contributions of black women, it's vital that we continue to listen and make room for their voices to be heard.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Short on black voices in your life? Start with Twitter.

Here are 23 writers, educators, artists, lawyers, politicians, actors, advocates, dreamers, do-ers, and visionaries to follow, read, listen to, and signal-boost.

1. Blair Imani — @BlairImani

The voice of this black American Muslim activist is even more necessary in the wake of bigoted and shortsighted policies from the White House.

2. Symone D. Sanders — @SymoneDSanders

She's a political commentator on CNN and former press secretary for Bernie Sanders (no relation).

3. Nell Painter — @PainterNell

Painter is a scholar, author, historian, and artist. (Yes, Nell Painter's a painter.)

4. La'Tasha D. Mayes — @duxfemfac

She's a kickass reproductive justice activist and one to follow if you care about your body and what you're allowed to do with it.

5. The Kitchenista — @MissAngelaDavis

Miss Angela Davis, aka The Kitchenista, is a private chef, food blogger, and creator of seriously mouthwatering recipes.

6. Tressie McMillan Cottom, Ph.D.  — @tressiemcphd

Tressie Mc is a professor, sociologist, and expert on the high cost of for-profit colleges.

7. April Reign — @ReignOfApril

Reign is the managing editor of Broadway Black and the woman behind the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

8. Elaine Welteroth — @ElaineWelteroth

She's the editor of Teen Vogue and the guiding voice behind their sweeping shift toward the inclusive and political.

9. Chirlane McCray — @NYCFirstLady

In addition to being the first lady of New York City, McCray is a writer, activist, and mental health advocate.

10. Bree Newsome — @BreeNewsome

She's a writer, filmmaker, and activist best known for taking the Confederate flag down from in front of the South Carolina state capitol.

11. Angelica Ross — @angelicaross

Ross is a transgender actress and founder of TransTech Social Enterprises, a training, economic development, and employment program for transgender and gender nonconforming people.

12. Patrice Grell Yursik — @afrobella

Yursik writes on black beauty and hair along with fashion and culture for her popular website, Afrobella. She's also contributed to Ebony, Essence, and Newsweek.

13. Wagatwe Wanjuki — @wagatwe

A former Upworthy writer, Wanjuki now writes for Daily Kos and is a fierce activist, dedicated to eliminating rape and gender-based violence.

14. DNLee —@DNLee5

DNLee is a mammalogist, writer, and new professor. She blogs for Scientific American.

15. Kashana Cauley — @kashanacauley

Cauley is a writer and humorist who was recently joined the writing staff of "The Daily Show."

16. Dorothy Charles — @dn_charles

Charles is the multiracial medical student behind #WhiteCoats4BlackLives.

17. Ijeoma Oluo — @IjemoaOluo

She's an amazing writer, critic, and editor-at-large for The Establishment.

18. Vilissa Thompson — @VilissaThompson

She's the founder of Ramp Your Voice, a self-advocacy and empowerment movement for people with disabilities. She also created the hashtag #DisabilityTooWhite.

19. Imani Gandy — @AngryBlackLady

Gandy is an attorney turned journalist and activist. She is the senior legal analyst at Rewire and co-host of This Week In Blackness' flagship podcast #TWIBPrime.

20. Danyel Smith — @danamo

Smith is the former editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine and the senior culture editor for ESPN's The Undefeated, a new digital initiative.

21. Nalo Hopkinson — @Nalo_Hopkinson

Hopkinson is a fantasy and science fiction writer whose work you definitely need to add to your reading list.

22. Rep. Maxine Waters — @MaxineWaters

For over two decades, she's represented California's 43rd District in the House of Representatives. Now, she's leading the resistance in Congress.

23. Marley Dias — @iammarleydias

You may recall Dias' effort to collect 1,000 books about black girls. Now this 12-year-old has a book deal of her own!

The best part? This is only the beginning.

It was nearly impossible to curate this list down to 23. I left off some pretty big names in favor of some lesser-known women doing big things in their fields. That's why I pulled all of these accounts and even more you should follow into a Twitter list. When it comes to black women, there is no shortage of awesome.

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

We are out here.

In every walk of life. In every career. Every state and every country. We are out here. Listen to our lived experiences. Fund our research. Buy tickets to our performances. Hear our lectures. Subscribe to our channels and podcasts. Cook our recipes. But first and foremost listen. Just listen.