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.
If the AG can’t name ONE org that’s a “black identity extremist” group, we’re faced with one reality — the FBI & DOJ are reverting back to a time when citizens were surveilled based on the color of their skin and their level of activism exercising their first amendment right. pic.twitter.com/7Gw2FIphqx
— Congressmember Bass (@RepKarenBass) November 14, 2017
“Hail to the Queen”: Jennifer Lewis
Many know her only by her current role as Grandma Ruby on “Black-ish,” but Jennifer 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.
“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.
- 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.
- 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
- The first Barbie wearing a hijab is modeled after Ibtihaj Muhammad, an Olympic fencer and the first Muslim woman from the U.S. to earn a medal at the Olympics.
- 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
Women of color have been out here winning this week.
Shout out to us.
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) November 14, 2017
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!