This week in black women: Luvvie, 6th-grade superstars, The Lion Queen, and more.

Indictments fell like leaves. Baseball finally ended. And black women had another week of being intelligent, talented, innovative, and fearless.

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

This week, we shoutout a Hollywood hotshot, a writer making big moves, children inspiring millions from their classroom, and a judge doing work. Celebrate them! Follow them! Support them! Let's go!


"Go off, sis": Luvvie Ajayi

The best-selling author and blogger was the opening speaker for the TEDWomen conference in New Orleans. Through presentations, discussions, and other events, the annual three-day conference centers women and girls as the innovators, change agents, and creators they are. Not 24 hours later, Ajayi was in New York City delivering the keynote address at The 3% Conference, a movement and event created to address the lack of women creative directors in advertising (only 3% when the effort began).

‌Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Adcolor. ‌

"Take care of business": U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson

Presiding over the preliminary portion of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates' indictments was none other than Deborah A. Robinson, a jurist with nearly 30 years of experience behind the bench. As a judge in the district, Robinson is no stranger to high-profile defendants, hearing cases involving NBA star Allen Iverson; former Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry; and George W. Bush's White House aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Prior to her work as a judge, Robinson served as an assistant U.S. prosecuting attorney. Robinson will now hand the case over to U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

Images by Dana Verkouteren/AP and Charles Dharapak/AP Photo.

"If you don't know, now you know": Christy Coleman

It's 2017, and folks are still attempting to rewrite Civil War history. If you're looking for a place to brush up on your facts, visit Christy Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia. The innovative space examines the Civil War from the Confederate, Union, and black perspectives.

Coleman is one of the few black women to lead a Civil War museum and told NBC News this summer, "My job is to lay out stories you may not have considered or heard before and provide an environment where people can learn and explore. And that’s what I do and I do that fairly well."

"Yes, young queens": the sixth-grade MCs at Milwaukee Excellence Charter School

I wrote about Milwaukee Excellence last year after seeing their passionate principal rap about homework. The school and students are going viral again, this time with their empowering student-lead rap "Excellence First" about staying focused and goal-oriented. It was written by their teacher, Terrance Sims, set to the beat from Tee Grizzley's "First Day Out," and tweaked with help from his sixth-grade class.  He held mini tryouts to see who would perform for the video, and these talented tweens rose to the top.

Come for the positive message, stay for two sixth-grade girls spitting 🔥 bars about MBAs and doctorates. The video has more than 86,000 views on Instagram and even landed the students on "Good Morning America."

"Let the people know": Angela Robinson

Last week, I asked you to send me links if you knew of any awesome black women doing amazing things. Molly M. sent me this delightful note:

"I wanted to reach out and propose my best friend Angela Robinson who just wrote and directed the major movie, 'Professor Marston and The Wonder Women.' An awesome woman with major accomplishments to write about, too!"

Robinson has some amazing Hollywood bonafides to her name, working as a writer, director, and producer on shows like "True Blood," "How To Get Away With Murder," and "The L Word." Her latest project, "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women," tells the surprising true story of William Moulton Marston, the psychologist who created Wonder Woman, and the polyamorous relationship he had with his wife and mistress. The complex love story opened Oct. 13 and is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Hats off to Robinson — a gay, black woman getting it done and finding success in an industry long dominated by white men. (And kudos to Molly for letting people know about her fabulous friend.)

Angela Robinson attends the Professor Marston and the Wonder Women panel  in New York City. Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images.

Final thoughts: Ziwe

Disney just announced the full cast of the live-action "Lion King," and Beyoncé will take the throne as Nala.  

Where's the lie?

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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Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are feeling the weight of it growing heavier and heavier. We miss normal life. We miss our friends. We miss travel. We miss not having to mentally measure six feet everywhere we go.

Maybe that's what was on Edmund O'Leary's mind when he tweeted on Friday. Or maybe he had some personal issues or challenges he was dealing with. After all, it's not like people didn't struggle pre-COVID. Now, we just have the added stress of a pandemic on top of our normal mental and emotional upheavals.

Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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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.

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The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

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When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


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