This week in black women: We won big at the polls and fixed McDonald's ice cream problem.

We mourned, again. We voted, again. And black women had another week of breaking barriers and doing the most in the best way.

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

With elections across the country, this week was a big one. I've got shoutouts for a noteworthy artist, innovative entrepreneurs, and the black women politicians getting it done at the state and local level. Let's get to it.


"Taking care of business": the new elected officials

Black women across the country cleaned up on election night. Vi Lyles became the first African-American woman to be voted mayor-elect of Charlotte, North Carolina. By six votes, Mary Parham-Copelan became the new mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia. Yvonne Spicer became the first mayor of the new city of Framingham, Massachusetts. The Boston City Council welcomed two new black women to their ranks. Andrea Jenkins earned a spot on the Minneapolis City Council, becoming the first out transgender black woman elected to office in the U.S. (Just hours later, she was joined on the council by Phillipe Cunningham, also a transgender person of color. Go 'head, Minneapolis.)

Black women are out here leading the way and making things happen at every level.

Andrea Jenkins, center, celebrates her city council win. Image by Carlos Gonzalez/Associated Press.

"Go off, sis": Lena Waithe and Gabrielle McCormick

  • Lena Waithe — star and writer of Netflix's "Master of None" — became the first black woman to earn an Emmy for comedy writing earlier this year, rallying her LGBTQ family in her passionate acceptance speech. This week, as part of the Out 100 (Out magazine's annual list of LGBTQ movers and shakers), Waithe was selected as Artist of the Year. She will grace one of four covers of the magazine, along with Chelsea Manning (Newsmaker of the Year), Jonathan Groff (Entertainer of the Year), and Shayne Oliver (Stylemaker of the Year).

Image by Rob Kim/Getty Images for Museum of Modern Art, Department of Film.

  • Gabrielle McCormick thought her athletic prowess would pay for college, but after suffering an injury in high school she had to get creative. By canvassing lesser-known and more creative awards, like the $1,000 she received from her high school cafeteria, McCormick went on to earn more than $150,000 in different scholarships. Now 28, she's working on a doctorate — her third degree — and will graduate without any debt. She also launched Scholarship Informer, a small business to help parents and students find scholarships and avoid crushing debt.

"We've got your back": Demetria Obilor

A frequent viewer of Dallas' ABC affiliate WFAA posted to the station's Facebook page that reporter Demetria Obilor looked "ridiculous," body-shaming the young journalist for having curves and vowing to never watch the station again. Fans and strangers jumped to Obilor's defense, pushing back against the need to police or shame Obilor for the way she looks. The reporter even made a video thanking everyone for their support. Right on, Demetria. You do you.

"You the real MVP": Raina McLeod

Ever pulled into a McDonald's drive-thru for an ice cream cone only to discover the machines are down? It happens a lot. Like seriously, a lot. So Raina McLeod designed Ice Check, an app that uses crowdsourced information to inform you whether the local machine in your area is operational. The app launched this spring but is receiving national buzz this week thanks to shoutouts in BET and BuzzFeed. This is the future we've been waiting for. Thank you, Raina.

Soooo excited to have my app @ice.check featured on NBC6✨✨🍦

A post shared by R.A.I.N.A. (@oohraina) on

Final Thoughts: @onlineva

Eva told some of the women of Spelman College they're beautiful. These young women warm my heart.

I'll be back next week with more women to celebrate and support. If you know a black woman I should feature, send me some links!

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by Adelin Preda on Unsplash

A multinational study found that bystanders intervene in 9 out of 10 public conflicts.

The recent news report of a woman on a Philadelphia train being raped while onlookers did nothing to stop it was shocking and horrible, without question. It also got people discussing the infamous "bystander effect," which has led people to believe—somewhat erroneously, as it turns out—that people aren't likely to intervene when they see someone being attacked in public. Stories like this uninterrupted train assault combined with a belief that bystanders rarely step in can easily lead people to feel like everything and everyone is horrible.

But according to the most recent research on the subject, the Philadelphia incident appears to be the exception, not the rule. A 2019 multinational study found that at least one bystander (but usually more) will actually intervene in 9 out of 10 public conflicts.

The idea that people in groups aren't likely to intervene stems largely from research on the 1964 story of Kitty Genovese, a 28-year-old woman who was stabbed to death outside her apartment in New York, while dozens of onlookers in surrounding apartment buildings allegedly did nothing. However, further research has called the number of witnesses into question, and it appears that several did, in fact, call the police. Someone reportedly shouted out their window and scared the attacker away for a few minutes, and someone did rush to Genovese's aid after the second attack.

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