A closer look at the black women making headlines and breaking barriers this week.
The talent and net worth in this photo alone is proof of awesomeness. Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Parkwood Entertainment.

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.

Dropping knowledge about the awesomeness of black women. Photo by WOCinTech Chat/Flickr.

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

Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images.

  • 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

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

"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:

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.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
True

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

Keep Reading Show less

Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the pandemic, you'd think people would have the basics figured out. Sure, there was some confusion in the beginning as to whether or not masks were going to help, but that was months ago (which might as well be years in pandemic time). Plenty of studies have shown that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of the virus and public health officials say universal masking is one of the keys to being able to safely resume some normal activities.

Normal activities include things like getting a coffee at Starbucks, but a viral video of a barista's encounter with an anti-masker shows why the U.S. will likely be living in the worst of both worlds—massive spread and economic woe—for the foreseeable future.

Alex Beckom works at a Starbucks in Santee, California and shared a video taken after a woman pulled down her "Trump 2020" mask to ask the 19-year-old barista a question, pulled it back up when the barista asked her to, then pulled it down again.

Keep Reading Show less
True

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

Keep Reading Show less