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!

Photo courtesy of Macy's
True

Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

Screenshots via @castrowas95/Twitter

In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

Keep Reading Show less