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!

via KrustyKhajiit / YouTube

Thomas F. Wilson played one of the most recognizable villains in film history, Biff Tannen, in the "Back to the Future" series. So, understandably, he gets recognized wherever he goes for the iconic role.

The attention must be nice, but it has to get exhausting answering the same questions day in and day out about the films. So Wilson created a card that he carries with him to hand out to people that answers all the questions he gets asked on a daily basis.

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Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

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Sometimes a politician says or does something so brazenly gross that you have to do a double take to make sure it really happened. Take, for instance, this tweet from Lauren Witzke, a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate from Delaware. Witzke defeated the party's endorsed candidate to win the primary, has been photographed in a QAnon t-shirt, supports the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was a U.S. government inside operation, and has called herself a flat earther.

So that's neat.

Witzke has also proposed a 10-year total halt on immigration to the U.S., which is absurd on its face, but makes sense when you see what she believes about immigrants. In a tweet this week, Witzke wrote, "Most third-world migrants can not assimilate into civil societies. Prove me wrong."

First, let's talk about how "civil societies" and developing nations are not different things, and to imply that they are is racist, xenophobic, and wrong. Not to mention, it has never been a thing to refer people using terms like "third-world." That's a somewhat outdated term for developing nations, and it was never an adjective to describe people from those nations even when it was in use.

Next, let's see how Twitter thwapped Lauren Witzke straight into the 21st century by proving her wrong in the most delicious way. Not only did people share how they or their relatives and friends have successfully "assimilated," but many showed that they went way, way beyond that.

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via WatchMojo / YouTube

There are two conflicting viewpoints when it comes to addressing culture from that past that contains offensive elements that would never be acceptable today.

Some believe that old films, TV shows, music or books with out-of-date, offensive elements should be hidden from public view. While others think they should be used as valuable tools that help us learn from the past.

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