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

This week, I'm shouting out some of Hollywood's best and brightest, a few new elected officials, a family you need to know about, and more. Remember these women! Pay these women! Follow these women! Let's do this.

[rebelmouse-image 19530650 dam="1" original_size="400x213" caption="GIF via Reserve Channel/YouTube." expand=1]GIF via Reserve Channel/YouTube.


"Taking care of business": Adrienne Nelson, Tamaya Dennard, and Nikuyah Walker

With the new year comes new elected officials. Here are three to celebrate this week:

1. Judge Adrienne Nelson was selected by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court. She's only the second woman of color to serve on the state's supreme court, and the first African-American to serve on an appellate court.

2. In her campaign for Cincinnati City Council, Tamaya Dennard often shared the Shirley Chisholm quote, "If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair." After carrying around the chair for much of her successful campaign, Dennard brought the folding chair with her while she was sworn in. Yes, ma'am!  

3. The city council of Charlottesville, Virginia (yes, that Charlottesville) just selected Nikuyah Walker to be the city's next mayor. (The city has a council-manager style of government, where the city council picks the mayor instead of a traditional vote.) In this role, Walker, an Independent, will be in charge of Charlottesville's city council. She is the first black woman to hold the position.

"Go off, sis!": Tiffany Haddish

The well-deserved rise of Tiffany Haddish continues in 2018. The comedic actress picked up the Best Supporting Actress honor at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. Haddish delivered an honest, genuine, side-splittingly funny, 20-minute acceptance speech worth watching in its entirety, especially for gems like this.

"Stop holding your truth. Speak your truth. Be yourself! It's the healthiest way to be. Be who you are. Speak who you are. If don't nobody like it? Fuck it, there's 10 other people that do."

Here’s a (lousily shot) video of Tiffany Haddish’s epic, world-beating best supporting actress acceptance speech at tonight’s New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) Awards

Posted by Alison Willmore on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

"Who run the world?": the women of Essence magazine

After being bought by Richelieu Dennis from Time Inc., Essence, a lifestyle magazine for black women and popular music festival, is once-again black-owned. And the executive leadership team, which is entirely black women, will have an ownership stake in the new venture. Secure the bag, ladies.  

Essence magazine's editor-in-chief Vanessa K. De Luca and president of Essence Communications Michelle Ebanks, seen here at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards. Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for Essence.

"Yessssssssssss": A TGIT crossover we can get behind

What's better than two popular primetime dramas led by black actresses and created under the umbrella company of a black woman? A CROSSOVER EVENT THAT BRINGS THEM TOGETHER! The worlds of "How to Get Away with Murder" and "Scandal" will collide in an evening of black girl magic. I am already salivating at the monologues alone. How lucky are we to be alive at the same time as Shonda Rhimes?

Viola Davis (L) and Kerry Washington at the 2015 Summer TCA Tour. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

"We won't forget": the Myers-Mells Family

Shanta Myers, 36, her partner Brandi Mells, 22, and two of Myers' children, Shanise Myers, 5, and Jeremiah Myers, 11, were found brutally murdered in their basement apartment Dec. 27, in Troy, New York. Two men were arrested in connection with their deaths. The story barely made a ripple in the national news.

Maybe it was the holidays. Perhaps it was because the family was black or because they were a loving same-sex couple. Maybe a combination of the three. But here, we will celebrate their lives and follow the case as perpetrators are brought to justice.

Final thought: @paulaakpan

All facts, 2018.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.