This week in black women: a badass Barbie, Jesmyn Ward, and the video game of your dreams.

Creeps faced a reckoning. Thanksgiving is almost here. And black women had another week of turning everything they touch into gold.

This is the fourth edition of "This week in black women," a weekly column dedicated to signal-boosting the black women who make the world spin.

I've got cheers and shoutouts for a much-needed video game, the mother of black Hollywood, an Olympic fencer turned toy, a Republican (yes, really!), a two-time award-winning author, and so much more. Let's do this!


"Taking care of business": Sen. Jackie Winters and Rep. Karen Bass

  • Sen. Jackie Winters (R-Salem) was selected to serve as the minority leader for the Oregon Senate this week. At 80, she is the second-oldest serving Oregonian legislator. She's also the first black leader of a legislative caucus in the state — and one of the few black women to lead a legislative caucus in any state, period.
  • Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) put Jeff Sessions' feet to the fire during his hearing before the house. It did not end well for him.

"Hail to the Queen": Jenifer Lewis

Many know her only by her current role as Grandma Ruby on "Black-ish," but Jenifer Lewis is a legendary actress, singer, and Broadway performer. This week, Lewis added "author" to her list of accomplishments with the release of her book, "The Mother of Black Hollywood." In addition to providing the inside scoop on her storied career, Lewis gets deeply personal, discussing her battles with sex addiction and undiagnosed bipolar disorder in her 20s.

Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images.

"We've got your back": Angela Wint

Angela Wint was the last athlete to complete the New York City Marathon, coming in 50,624th place in the Nov. 5 event. But despite spending more than seven hours on the course, Wint finished with toughness, heart, and courage. Her body ached and her legs wanted to give in, but she pushed on and earned that coveted medal.

"I’m gonna take [the medal] and wear it, and appreciate every step I took to get to this place. Our journey isn’t for us — it’s for someone else who thinks we can’t do it," she told the New York Post.

"We won't forget": Ruby Bridges and Gwen Ifill

  • 57 years ago this week, 6-year-old Ruby Bridges became the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South. Bridges bravely entered William Frantz Elementary School escorted by U.S. marshals. White parents refused to have their children in a class with her and all but one teacher refused to instruct her, so she was in a class by herself, taught by Barbara Henry. They sat side by side and went about the business of first grade. Ruby Bridges Hall is now 63 years old and remains a steadfast activist.

Right: Ruby Bridges at Franz Elementary. Photo by Department of Justice/Wikimedia Commons. Left: Ruby Bridges at the 2017 Glamour Women of the Year Awards. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Glamour.

  • Intrepid journalist and author Gwen Ifill passed away last year. Simmons College, her alma mater, has announced that it will name its new arts and media program after her. The Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities will launch next fall.

"Go off, sis": Jesmyn Ward and Tiffany Haddish

  • Ward won the National Book Award for Fiction for her book "Sing, Unburied, Sing." Her characters are black, southern, and poor, but clearly the National Book Foundation recognized what we already know: that none of that diminishes the reader's ability to connect with the story. This is Ward's second time winning the award — a first for a woman fiction writer.

Jesmyn Ward attends the 68th National Book Awards. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.

  • Funny lady Tiffany Haddish became the first black female stand-up comedian to host "Saturday Night Live" last week. Yes, the first. In 2017. Here's one of my favorite sketches from the night.

"Hail to the Chief": Tonya Boyd

Boyd is the first black woman to be named deputy chief of the New York City Fire Department. It's lit! 🔥 (Safely, of course.)

"Y'all play too much": Ibtihaj Muhammad and Momo Pixel

Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Glamour.

  • Momo Pixel created this unbelievably fun (and sadly accurate) 8-bit video game called "Hair Nah." In the game, players become a black woman who has to stop curious people from touching her hair as she travels around the world.  It's an addictive way to make the most of an all-too-common microaggression.

Final thought: Brittany Packnett

I'll be back in two weeks with more women to celebrate and support. If you know a black woman I should feature, send me some links!

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
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via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture