This week in black women: Shonda Rhimes delivers, Tiffany Haddish slays, and more.

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.

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.

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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Lately, Twitter has been a rough place for famous Chrises. First Evans had his day on the trending side bar, and now it's Pratt's turn. With the way things are going, we cringe for what's in store for Hemsworth.

Earlier this week, Warrior Nun writer Amy Berg posted a photo on Twitter of four famous Chrises - Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, and Chris Pratt. "One has to go," Berg captioned the photo.

Pratt started trending as he was quickly dubbed the "worst Chris." And things just got worse from there. Until some real-life heroes stepped in and tried to address the situation, defending their co-star and friend.


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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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via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

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A photo of Joe Biden hugging and kissing his only living son, Hunter, is circulating after Newsmax TV host John Cardillo shared it on Twitter with the caption, "Does this look like an appropriate father/son interaction to you?"

The question is clearly meant to be a dig at Biden, whose well-documented life in politics includes many examples of both his deep love for his family and his physical expressions of affection. While his opponents have cherry-picked photos to try to paint him as "creepy," those who know him well—and who are in some of those viral images—defend Biden's expressions of affection as those of a close friend and grandfatherly figure. (And in fact, at least one photo of Biden holding and kissing a child's face was of him and his grandson at his son Beau's funeral, taken as a still shot from this video.)

Everyone has their own level of comfort with physical space and everyone's line of what's appropriate when it comes to physical affection are different, but some accusations of inappropriateness are just...sad. And this photo with this caption is one of those cases.

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