History Historical Badasses

You know Rosa Parks, but you don’t know Elizabeth Jennings and Claudette Colvin

For stories of Black history and excellence, check out our Black History Month series. Celebrate with us by sharing your favorite articles on social media and uplifting the stories, lives, and work of Black people.

We all know Rosa Parks, the American civil rights activist who is known for standing up against racial injustice. Okay, actually, she was seated when she took her stand, but you get what I mean. We learned about the pivotal role she played in the Civil Rights Movement several times in school and we rightfully still celebrate her today.

A picture of Rosa Parks smiling while sitting on a bench with Martin Luther King Jr. sitting in the background behind her.
[Image Description: A picture of Rosa Parks smiling while sitting on a bench with Martin Luther King Jr. sitting in the background behind her.] Via Flicker
















When she refused to give up her seat in the section designated to Black people to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, it led to her arrest. When she was arrested, she was met with support from her community and members of the Black community from across the country. This level of support is what initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott that lasted for 381 days.

Rosa Parks continued her work for racial equality and became an influential leader in the Civil Rights Movement.  However, she is not the first or only woman who fought against racial inequality by not getting up from her seat on public transportation. If you are surprised to hear this then I would like to share the stories of two women who also sat in their seats to take a stand.

Are you ready?

In 1854, Elizabeth Jennings, a free Black schoolteacher, was headed to church on a July Sunday morning. To get to church that day, she boarded a horsecar in Manhattan, New York. When she got into the car, she was told to get off and wait for a horsecar that operated for Black passengers. However, during this time, Black New York residents were expected to walk as horsecars designated for Black people were rarely available. In response, Jennings refused and resisted multiple physical attempts to remove her from the car until the police came to force her out of the car.

A black and white photo of Elizabeth Jennings posing in a long dress and standing with her arm resting on a chair.
[Image Description: A black and white photo of Elizabeth Jennings posing in a long dress and standing with her arm resting on a chair.] Via Zinnedproject










The Black community in New York responded just like the Black community in Montgomery would respond about 100 years later.  They held a rally at the church Jennings attended. Jennings sued the driver, conductor, and the Third Avenue Railway. She was represented by the future President Chester A. Arthur and won her case. Judge Rockwell from the Brooklyn Circuit Court ruled, “Colored persons if sober, well behaved and free from disease, had the same rights as others and could neither be excluded by the rules of the company nor by force or violence.”

Additionally, she received a total of $225 in damages.  Her court victory was a catalyst to the ongoing fight for equality in New York public transit. By 1873, the Civil Rights Act was passed in New York.  The act prohibited explicit discrimination on public transportation in New York, right before the New York subway first opened.

We also have Claudette Colvin, who refused to get up from her seat on the bus at the age of 15. Just 15! Colvin was arrested for not giving up her seat 9 months before Rosa Parks on the same bus system in Montgomery, Alabama. Colvin was on her way home from high school and when the bus driver told to get up to give her seat to a white woman. She responded by saying that she had paid to ride the bus and that it was her constitutional right. When she refused, she was put in handcuffs and was arrested.

A black and white head shot of Claudette Colvin. She is wearing a plain shirt, glasses, and has short curly hair.
[Image Description: A black and white head shot of Claudette Colvin. She is wearing a plain shirt, glasses, and has short curly hair.] Via Wikipedia

Colvin was charged with violating segregation laws.  She spent several hours in jail before her minister paid her bail. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People considered using her case to confront segregation laws. However, the association decided not to because of her age and her being pregnant at the time.

Despite the National Association for Advancement of Colored People not using her case, she became a plaintiff in the Browder v. Gayle case. The ruling of this case declared that the segregated bus system in Montgomery was unconstitutional.

We all know the story and the work of Rosa Parks, but few people know the stories of Elizabeth Jennings and Claudette Colvin.  Jennings and Colvin’s stories serve as a reminder that it takes more than one person to institute real change. We should always remember that there are many people that we do not learn about in our history books that made sacrifices and helped influence important changes.

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USA 2020 Elections Politics Race The World

Black women deserve more from the Democratic party

Throughout the course of an excruciating election week, many Black activists, community organizers, journalists, and political commentators, on social media highlighted the vital contribution of Black voters in key states like Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. Notably, and more specifically, it was the all-too-often thankless work from Black women providing substantial amounts of support for the Democratic party that helped Biden pull out a win in this election.

In her debut for the Washington Post, Taylor Crumpton wrote of Black women’s saving grace for the Democratic party- once again. Regarding Black women’s continued overall contribution to liberation efforts Crumpton states, “Black women’s civic and political engagement extends beyond the polls — we’re organizing for a future where Black women don’t have to vote for the “lesser of two evils,” but none at all.”

The “lesser of two evils” narrative has been a reoccurring one amongst American elections; correspondingly, Joe Biden was dubbed the lesser evil compared to Donald Trump in this presidential race. Many democratic voters, especially Black women voters, supported Joe Biden despite his shortcomings as a candidate. Namely, Biden’s many sexual assault allegations, his treatment of Anita Hill during her testimony before congress in 1991, and his history with oppressive crime reform.

Nevertheless, regardless of whatever reservations we had about Joe Biden as a candidate, Black women didn’t just simply vote for him, but rallied behind him. In addition, Black organizers and activists across the United States strategized and mobilized to advocate for marginalized communities and fight against voter suppression, often with less resources and funding than establishment run organizations. 

Even more, it was the combined efforts of Black Lives Matter, the cosign Joe Biden received from highly respected social justice activists within the Black community like Angela Davis and John Lewis, and community organizers across the country – especially in the south – that provided Joe Biden the opportunity to claim victory in such a crucial presidential race. Not to mention the efforts of Stacey Abrams, who registered an estimated 800,000 Georgia citizens to vote since her governor loss in 2018, that changed the dynamic of Georgia’s voter turnout and party support.

It’s time the Democratic party rightfully acknowledges the persistent work Black people are doing for their party. A party which notably continues to center white, moderate political figures and centrist politics that simultaneously condescends progressive and grassroots movements.

Some of the largest and most influential movements have been created from the labor of Black women and Black queer individuals. Therefore, if we collectively decided to reserve our right to be selfish, advocating only for ourselves, civil rights progress would be nearly non-existent. Of the many societal short-comings highlighted this year, it’s been noted that despite our consistent efforts towards equality and equity, Black women and queer folks are still the most marginalized and at risk demographics in the world.

The recent cases of Megan thee stallion, Oluwatoyin Salau, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade (a Black trans man killed by police this year), and so many more, illustrate how much work still needs to be done to protect the most vulnerable within the Black community.

During Biden’s first address to the American people Saturday night after his win, he recognizes how “The African American community stood up for me. [They’ve] always had my back, and I’ll have [theirs].” It’s true, Joe Biden has a lot of work to do in advocating for the Black community earnestly. In fact, showing up for the countless and nameless Black organizers is imperative going forward. Most of the time, Black grassroots organizations are underfunded. So, here are some organizations that do direct groundwork in urban and rural parts of America for under-privileged communities to support, donate to, or amplify:

Additionally, the state of Georgia is having runoff races for essential senate seats. Democratic nominees Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock need to win their election races to tie the senate with republicans. This would mean a Republican majority senate couldn’t immediately dismiss Joe Biden’s policies towards environmental justice and repair, affordable healthcare, and more.

Click here to directly support organizers in Georgia. Similarly, click here to donate to Ossoff’s campaign and here to donate to Warnock’s campaign.

Going forward, there needs to be more of an emphasis on community care, progressivism, and protection for those who continue to show up for everyone else. Trump is out of office, and the democrats pulled off an impressive victory; however, the necessary fight for true equality persists.

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Book Reviews Books Pop Culture

Brit Bennett’s “The Vanishing Half” is a timely tale about white-passing privilege

Being an avid reader, I love to participate in various book clubs and reading challenges. In the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests, it was extremely important that I picked the newly published The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

Reading books by Black authors can allow us to better understand black voices. The Vanishing Half is set in the 1960s and 70s, but draws eerie parallels to what is facing the Black community right now. The book focuses on two Black twins who try to escape a town obsessed with light skin. As deep as these prejudices ran in this community, light skin did not save the twins’ mother from working for white people in a neighboring town or their father from being lynched. 

One can assume that this trauma made the twins realize what it means to be Black in America. The death of their father changed the twins irrevocably and caused them to take two diverging paths.

“Stella became white and Desiree married the darkest man she could find.”

After abuse from the dark man, Desiree returns to town with a dark-skinned child, Jude. Desiree’s return causes lots of surprise among the town’s residents. 

Even though I cannot relate to the struggles of the Black community, I saw my own community reflected in how Jude and other dark-skinned characters were treated. Colorism is a major problem in the Desi and Muslim community; and reading some parts of the book made my blood boil. Jude did not feel like she belonged in this community simply because she was dark. I instantly thought back to how many aunties have bullied friends and family members for “being too dark.” 

Women, in particular, are scrutinized. I cannot begin to imagine Jude’s feelings, where you experience disgust from outsiders and your own community. It’s disheartening. 

But besides the town’s obsession with being light, folks were wondering about Desiree’s twin, Stella. Being white-passing, she had gone on to become “white” by dressing and talking differently.  She married a white man and that made her life remarkably better than her sister’s. But in the process, Stella’s sense of identity seemed to vanish. She lived in constant fear, nervous that one day, her husband would realize that she is Black. 

Passing as white made Stella lose touch with her family, but the privilege that came with looking white was undeniable. That privilege has not gone away in our “modern” society. 

Stella continuously plays a white woman and does not even tell her daughter, Kennedy, that she is Black.

When a Black family “invades” Stella’s white bubble, Stella panics and even gets upset when Kennedy plays with the neighbor’s child. She feared that the Black family will see Stella for what she is. Eventually, Stella allows herself to befriend the family. However, the other neighbors do not hide their hatred towards the new family and throw bricks through their windows.

They were sending a message: Don’t they know they aren’t welcome here?

As fate would have it, the twins’ daughters meet each other. Ironically, both struggle with their identities as well.

After failing to lighten herself, Jude is slowly learning to accept her color. Her boyfriend, Reese, who is transitioning from female to male, has played a crucial role in her character development.

I am grateful that Reese’s character was included in this narrative. He highlights the intersectionality of marginalized groups and how much we still have to fight for transgender rights.

Jude never really spoke about Reese’s transition. But she silently worked in order to save money for his surgery and threw herself into education so she could have a life that her mother could never have.

Kennedy always felt like her mother hated her and perhaps there is some truth to that, Kennedy was a manifestation of Stella’s lie. Additionally, Kennedy did not seem to understand her privilege much and felt “whiter than before” when she dated a Black man.

I feel like Bennett did that on purpose. Kennedy (thinking she is white) only sees her whiteness when it is in juxtaposition with someone who is not “from her world.”  It reminds me of how people say that they have Black friends so they totally understand when they do not.

All in all, The Vanishing Half, tackled problems that were seen as “issues of the past,” but clearly are not. Racism and transphobia are still very much alive today. The book should not be timely in 2020, but sadly it is; so, let’s reevaluate ourselves by acknowledging privileges and working against systems that oppress minorities.

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Culture Life

The divide within the African diaspora won’t get us anywhere

When I was in elementary school,  another Black student told me that she and her family were simply ‘African’ and not ‘African American’ because her ancestors had never been enslaved. If you thought I, a fellow Black woman, was confused at that moment, imagine how puzzled our predominantly white classmates, who had already mentally grouped this Black girl and me as the same person, were.

I initially failed to understand what this student meant by her separation between recent African immigrants and North American Black descendants of the enslaved. But as I learned more about our history, over time, I began to comprehend what she meant. Throughout my life, this discourse would come up again and again.

Although we look the same in everyone else’s eyes, there’s still an “otherness” in our history and culture that, oftentimes, separates us.

I’ve been told by recent African immigrants that because I am a descendant of slavery, my ancestors and I are weak, whereas Africans are stronger because they had the choice to come to this country. I’ve heard Black slave descendants use coded language when referring to Africans, saying things that allude to them being “unkempt” and “savage”. I’ve seen them question recent immigrants’ intelligence, talk down to them, or insult their beauty.

I’ve felt this divide within our community and I’ve seen it with my own eyes.


But recently, the world has experienced a global reckoning that criticizes the ways in which we approach race, culture, and ethnicity. Since the inhumane death of George Floyd on Memorial Day of this year, industries across all boards have had their historic dirty laundry with racism, colorism, and sexism aired out for the world to see as the public has assertively held them more accountable than ever.

With this, I’ve taken the time to truly question my nationality within this country, and have further understood the power of unity within the African diaspora through identification.

First, it’s important to understand where the ill-feelings between us comes from. The tension and animosity between Africans and descendants of the enslaved in North America are traced back to both group’s individual experiences with migration, slavery, and colonialism. 


The Atlantic slave trade stripped enslaved Africans of our culture and left us to recreate a completely new one, which many present-day Black Americans identify with. And whether we understand it or not, American Black culture today has strong and direct influences from slavery that those who were never enslaved in America may not be familiar with.

African empires and kingdoms have had their own relationships with slavery but with completely different meanings. Writers Daivi Rodima-Taylor and Zadi Zokou describe it as “local socio-cultural patterns of clientage and adoptive kinship rather than a large-scale commercial enterprise.”

Africa, which is the second-largest and oldest continent in the world, has many different unique cultures within it too. Like anywhere, Africa’s complicated history has similarly been processed into a unique modern-day culture that African Americans just may not understand.

Our cultural differences are at the forefront when associating with each other. On both ends, there’s an attitude of othering and criticizing.

And despite completing an ancestry test that told me exactly where in Africa my ancestors are from, I still am confused culturally as to where and who I should identify with. It feels like a bridge that will never be crossed and something that slavery has taken from me forever.

If I’ve learned anything from the recent reignition of civil rights discussion though, it’s that the diaspora’s otherness won’t make us any better as we exist in this country together. When looking at each other internally, we may notice our differences, but to anyone else, we are simply Black.

It isn’t the slave descendants’ fault that they were forced to assimilate. But it also shouldn’t be pushed upon recent African immigrants to assimilate if they do not choose to. There is no blame to be given to those of us that are non-consensual foreigners to this land. We shouldn’t side-eye each other because we are unfamiliar with each other’s culture.

There’s no easy solution and even I don’t have the answers to this age-old discourse in the slightest. But in this introspective time for the world, I’ve rethought my identity and nationality.

For myself, as an American descendant of the enslaved, I hope to only be referred to as Black. I’ve made this decision because of the danger and separation that I think the identification of ‘African American’ holds within our community.

When we separate African Americans from African immigrants, we, in a way, recognize slavery as the qualification to be a *true* Black American. But slavery is not the sole definition of what makes me who I am. It creates a false qualification that is unattainable for African immigrants. ‘African American’ also does not include the entirety of the diaspora. I think of the term as a way to further push this “otherness” narrative and it can separate us from the diversity within our community, rather than embracing it.

So no, the other classmate in my elementary school may not have identified herself as African American, but now I don’t either. I’m Black (with a capital ‘B’) whose ancestors came from Africa. Slavery may have reinterpreted my culture, but it does not define the legitimacy of myself as a Black woman in America.

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Politics Policy Inequality

Trump’s voter fraud commission is a guise to suppress voters, not protect them

Donald Trump’s Presidential Commission on Election Integrity had its first public meeting on July 19 amid less than stellar public reception: It’s facing at least seven lawsuits, as well as unwavering skepticism from watchdogs across the nation.

The commission was created to prevent voter fraud and investigate unsubstantiated accusations made by the President that 3 to 5 million people illegally voted during the 2016 Presidential Election. This claim has been widely debunked by lawmakers, experts, and federal courts across the nation.

The Trump Administration’s actions surrounding voting rights indicate that this task force could be nothing more than a ploy to restrict voting rights. The consequences of this commission could ultimately be dire for marginalized communities, potentially disenfranchising them at an unprecedented federal level.

We’re breaking down what this commission is planning to do and how it could affect the most vulnerable:

What exactly is this commission?

The voter fraud task force was commissioned by executive order in May to investigate supposed mass voter fraud in the 2016 election. Vice Chair Kris Kobach so far has asked states to turn in voter data to “enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes,” but has not explicitly discussed what will be done with this information.

Each state is required to keep records of its registered voters in accordance with the Help America Vote Act, but the type of voter information collected and how much is made public is to the discretion of each state. So far, 14 states have refused to comply with the task force’s voter data request.

What we know so far is that the task force wants to create a centralized collection of national voter information to “investigate fraud,” but this move could violate state-specific privacy laws and lay the foundation for voter suppression on a national level.

Why is the commission problematic?

The supposedly “bipartisan” commission isn’t so bipartisan after all: The majority of the group is composed of Republicans who have records of supporting restrictive voting laws that historically affect communities of color.

Kobach himself has notoriously disenfranchised voters in his home state of Kansas by requiring voters to show proof-of-citizenship. He was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union after he barred about 30,000 Kansas citizens from registering to vote because of policy that required people to show a birth certificate or passport to prove citizenship. 

According to a public email, Kobach also expressed how he hoped to amend the National Voter Registration Act with a provision that would implement proof-of-citizenship requirements on a federal level. The act currently prevents states from imposing a proof-of-citizenship on new voters and encourages states to streamline the registration process.

The Department of Justice has already sent out its own request for personal voter data from 44 states in a move to potentially force voter purging, which could assist in the Trump Administration’s wider efforts to restrict voting.

How could communities of color be affected?

According to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the task force is founded on the “false premise that Black and Latino voters are more likely to perpetrate voter fraud.” Trump himself has also claimed that much of the supposedly illegal votes in the most recent presidential election were from undocumented immigrants, a claim yet again unsubstantiated.

The commission believes that it can curb fraudulent voting by requiring voters to prove their citizenship. But as research has shown, those that are most affected by these proof-of-citizenship requirements are communities of color, as well as low income, elderly and disabled folks. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, these voters are less likely to have government-issued identification or ready access to proof of citizenship in the first place.

More than half of U.S. states implement voter ID requirements, effectively hindering marginalized communities from rightfully participating in the electoral process, even if they are eligible.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego found that Black and Latino voters who live in states with strict voter ID laws have the lowest turnout in elections. For example, they found that Latino voter turnout was 10.3 points lower in states where a valid photo ID is a required versus Latinos in states where the requirements are lax.

Voter fraud has been proven to be extremely rare, and American lawmakers need to stop using the fight against it as a guise to suppress already disenfranchised voters.

In order to have a truly democratic society, all citizens should be afforded the fundamental right to vote, no matter their racial or socioeconomic background. Lawmakers owe it to their consituents to do all they can to protect every citizen’s right to vote, not suppress it.

Race Inequality

Some Black men would rather pick Becky over Black women – but we’re okay

I’m not going to take time and lead up to how I’m feeling. I’ll start off with this: I’M TIRED.

Black women are disrespected by non-Black people all the time. Our hair, our sizes, our lips, the way that we talk, laugh, dance, and breathe overall is always criticized. Worst of all, our biggest critics are Black men themselves (with a Becky on their side of course).

“WAIT! NOT ALL BLA—” Nope. Stop it right there. Please, hold all your “not all Black men” comments until the end.

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I’ve never heard or seen men belittle women of their own race the same way Black men do to Black women. I’m not talking about the whole “women are weaker, men are superior” thing. I’m talking about the “Nah, I can’t handle Black girls” mess. The “Black women are too ghetto” and “Black girls need to be mixed with something to be cute” and “Dark-skin girls are so loud, damn…” crap irks me.

Black men: Do y’all realize that you’re not just insulting us, but also your mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers too? You came from Black women! You would not exist without us! Your hair, lips, hands, skin, and that smile you like to charm Becky with would be nothing without Black women.

Attacking the women who will support you is a bad move. “Black women are the worst,” huh? 

Yet, when a Black life is lost, all of a sudden, Becky gets quiet… 

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Some of your “better than Black girls” girlfriends are only around for their Black men fetish and light-skin mixed baby fetish.

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Then again, what do I know?

And something I have said and written about before: Black women DO NOT CARE if you’re not dating a Black woman.

I repeat, WE DO NOT CARE one bit. As long as you and your significant other are happy and staying in your lane, it’s all good. Black women are over here unbothered and thriving. However, if you’re just showing off your Becky with the caption “Black women never gave me what she gives me” or “White girls are evolving, Black girls better watch out” then……


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Sure, at first we might cringe a little, but we decided that it’s better to move on. We think your anti-Blackness is disgusting and it’s sad how you’re begging for our attention. 

If you want to be ignorant then, by all means, go ahead.

It’s not even worth feeling pity that you think this way. If there had to be any pity from me, it’d be for the non-Black girls you’re messing with for the sake of trying to make us jealous.

It’s tiring to see how much you try though. It’d be nicer to see you packing this kind of trash up and replacing it with positivity on my timeline. 

Maybe start with one of those anniversary posts of you and Becky love – without the “Black women got nothing on her” part.

Politics The World

5 pro-Trump media outlets you need to ditch – and 5 to start reading like your life depends on it

To say that the mainstream media has done American democracy a disservice this election cycle would be an understatement. From Day One, news organizations should have represented Donald Trump for what he actually is: a sexist, racist, tax-evading, business-failing man accused of sexual assault with absolutely no political experience. Instead, the media depicted him as a “controversial” but not altogether unexpected candidate (while constantly covering Secretary Clinton’s damn emails).

And that kind of support won him the election.

As the United States recovers from the election and prepares for what the next four years may bring, you might be asking where you should be getting your news. Unfortunately, many conservative and mainstream news organizations are still normalizing Trump, but there are liberal and independent media companies offering diverse and inclusive alternative coverage. In times like these, it’s important to keep John Oliver’s words in mind: “Keep reminding yourself this is not normal. A Klan-backed misogynist internet troll is going to be delivering the next State of the Union address. And that is not normal. It is fucked up.”

Here are 5 media sources you should ditch immediately, and 5 alternatives you should definitely switch to!


Whether mainstream news or “alt-right” (cough, neo-Nazi) propaganda, many American media organizations have failed to appropriately characterize Donald Trump’s actions as what they are: not normal. Here are five news organizations that either directly support Trump or indirectly contributed to his success by condoning his behavior (while we’re including links to theses sites so you can investigate them yourself, we encourage you to think twice before supporting these organizations with your views and resulting ad revenue):

[bctt tweet=”American media organizations have failed to characterize Donald Trump’s actions as what they are: not normal.” username=”wearethetempest”]

1. Breitbart News

There aren’t enough words to describe our absolute distaste and outrage for Breitbart. You’ve likely heard about Breitbart News in past weeks since Trump appointed executive chair Steven Bannon as his chief strategist. What you might not have heard though are some of Breitbart’s recent “news” headlines: “Hate Hoax: Student Fakes Anti-Gay Notes From Trump Fan,” “Nick Cannon: Planned Parenthood Committing ‘Real Genocide’ Against Black People,” and “Trump Supporters On Reddit Are Mailing Salt To The New York Times.” Um okay.

2. Fox News

We’re the kind of crazy liberal women that Bill O’Reilly would warn your grandparents about; that said we’re not huge fans of Fox News either. To be fair, even Fox News agrees that Donald Trump is too extreme a Republican. But that doesn’t take back the millions of dollars of free advertising the station gave Trump by covering him so extensively.

3. CNN

Probably the greatest reason why mainstream news organizations like CNN covered Trump was because he was just so strange that he was entertaining. For months, media companies covered Trump’s campaign in the entertainment sections of their publications instead of in politics. And when Trump’s campaign did become vaguely legit — well, then they started covering him in full force, referring to his policies as radical and controversial, but not downright scary.

4. CBS

We love you Sixty Minutes, we really do, and we get that inviting the President-Elect on-air for an interview is normal–but this President-Elect is not normal. At least we got this super awkward photograph out of the interview.

No worries about Trump/Pence beating Obama/Biden for Bromance Of The Decade.

5. The National Enquirer

With articles like “Why President Trump Must Build The Border Wall” and “The Face Of Death — Haggard Hillary’s First Post-Election Appearance,” we’re not really sure we should say anymore.

Switch to these, soon

We definitely think The Tempest should stay at the top of your media list. We’re deeply committed to telling the stories of diverse millennial women–exactly the stories that are going to come under fire during the next four years.

But if you need to expand that reading list beyond us, you should definitely start with these five fab news sources!

1. Mother Jones

Mother Jones has broken some of the first post-election stories about possible foreign intervention and conflicts of interest. They’ve also willingly admitted the role of media in normalizing Trump’s campaign, and offered an alternative–“We don’t claim to have all the answers on where things go from here. But we know a free, fearless press is an essential part of it, and that means doubling down on the investigative reporting.”

2. Bitch Magazine

Feminist magazine Bitch has joined the activist community in offering suggestions on how to move forward through the next four years. With “10 Ways To Resist Donald Trump: Activists Share Concrete Actions You Can Take Right Now” and “Journalists Shouldn’t Play By Donald Trump’s Rules,” Bitch is starting a dialogue about surviving in Trump’s America and making feminist waves

3. The Root

When it comes down to it, this election was about race (and how the U.S. has failed to deal with racial inequality) more than anything else. If you’re looking to expand your perspective beyond the white mainstream media, The Root is definitely the place to start.

For alternative coverage of the election, check out: “The Black Middle Class Is About to Get Trumped,” “‘White Working Class’ Narrative Is Nothing but a Racist Dog Whistle,” and “‘Make America Great Again’ Billboard Sparks Controversy in Miss.”

4. The Establishment

With articles like “Don’t Offer To Sign Up–Stop The Muslim Registry Before It Begins,”It’s Not Rural Voters Who Put Trump In Office–It’s White People,” “The Trans People Who Are Detransitioning To Stay Safe In Trump’s America,” and “What I’m Doing To Get My Black Ass Ready For The Next 4 Years” how can you really go wrong?

5. Autostraddle

The “feminist online community for multiple generations of kickass lesbian, bisexual & otherwise inclined ladies (and their friends)” hasn’t let Trump’s win silence them. Instead, they’ve gotten to work in full-force to produce stories like “Rebel Girls: A Reading List for the Revolution,” “Tila Tequila What The Fuck: Former MTV Star Now Identifies as ‘Literally Hitler,'” and “Foolish Child #10: The United States of Authoritarian Rule Bingo.”

The stories we tell ourselves about the world define our perceptions. As we head into these next four years, let the stories you hear be ones from marginalized groups or alternative sources.

Don’t let yourself get bogged down in news that justifies or normalizes Trump’s insanity. This is not normal: find media that reminds you of that every day.

Science Now + Beyond

The tobacco industry has a target out on African Americans, and it’s ruining lives

There is a call to action from many African American doctors in the United States to begin the process of further regulating the sale of menthol cigarettes. Dr. Phillip Gardiner, co-chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, is leading the charge against menthol cigarettes due to African Americans facing disproportional levels of lung cancer, nicotine addiction, and death.

Presently, menthol cigarettes play a colossal role in the health battle that African Americans are facing. The American Lung Association found that African Americans have a higher occurrence of lung cancer than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. Studies from the same source show that Black men are 37 percent more likely to get lung cancer than white men. NBC News reports that in 2010, 83 percent of black adult smokers and 72 percent of underage black smokers prefer menthol-flavored brands.

With such a large representation of African American smokers choosing menthols, we have to wonder: why? We have known for years that smoking cigarettes can cause cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease. So, what makes menthol cigarettes so appealing? Menthol cigarettes contain menthol, which has a cooling effect. This can soothe the dry-throat feeling that many smokers have, resulting in smokers inhaling more deeply, holding the smoke in their lungs longer, and gaining increased exposure to the carcinogens that cigarette smoke contains. So, while menthols may feel less harmful, the effects can ultimately be even more toxic.

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration performed a study on menthol cigarettes to determine whether or not restrictions should be placed on the purchase of menthols. Their findings concluded that menthol smokers show greater signs of nicotine dependence and are less likely to successfully quit smoking. They additionally concluded that as menthol cigarettes are marketed as a smoother alternative to non-menthol cigarettes, it is more likely that menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with non-menthol cigarettes.

More disturbingly, the FDA reported in the same study that menthol cigarettes are intentionally marketed toward African Americans, women, and youth.  Regardless of these conclusions, regulations were not placed in 2013, but the topic is being pushed again in the coming months.

Dr. Gardiner has proposed an executive order banning the sale of menthol cigarettes, an idea that is not at all outlandish considering the 2009 FDA ban on cigarettes characterizing fruit and candy, thereby attempting to decrease the appeal of cigarettes to children.

In the African-American Tobacco Control Leadership Council’s letter to President Obama, the council pleads that menthol tobacco addiction is “an issue of social justice, one which we have been defenseless in adequately addressing to protect our people.” They additionally write, “…our community’s addiction to nicotine continues to kill more Black people than AIDS, violence, car accidents, and non-tobacco related cancers combined.”  Dr. Gardiner’s push to place a ban on menthol cigarettes could save thousands of lives, and the time to act is now.


To join the battle against menthol cigarettes, please go to

History Race The World Policy Inequality

Why do Holocaust survivors get reparations, but Black Americans are told to forget their history?

In October 2015, then-Vice President Biden awarded $12 million in “assistance” to Holocaust survivors. The money was given to help the “quarter of whom live below the poverty line.”

This gift was a continuation of Germany’s efforts to pay Jews reparations from 1952. Then, Germany awarded over a billion dollars primarily to the government of Israel, which had resettled many Holocaust survivors. This money genuinely helped a community who had lost everything – family members, friends, homes, clothing, jewelry, their livelihoods. It helped people who had lost everything and had to rebuild with nothing.

Reparations helped these people put their lives back on track. Much of the original reparations payment in 1952 went to building Israeli infrastructure, and look at how powerful and strong Israel is today.

Reparations helped these people put their lives back on track.

As a Jew, when I read about the Holocaust, it boiled my blood and made me sick. I remember as a young girl, I was obsessed with Hitler and World War II and learning about every circumstance that led to this enormous event in the history of my people. On my father’s side, we lost many family members to the Holocaust. It wasn’t just reading about history.

It was personal.

When I learned about the reparations that were paid by the German government, I was pleased. No, it did not bring back my lost family members, and it didn’t reverse the blow dealt to thousands of my people, but it was comforting to know that at least survivors weren’t being sent home empty-handed. At the very least, it ensured a roof over the heads of the victims.

No, it wasn’t everything, but it was at least something.

Yet I will never forget the night when I was driving home with a family friend and we were arguing about many things: the election, the state of our economy, etc. We had been clashing over our opposing socio-political views for some time, but she really shocked me when we started talking about our views on racism in the United States.

For over three hundred years, Black people suffered extreme hardships under slavery.

I mentioned something off-hand about reparations for the Black descendants of slaves in our country, and she turned to me, the Manhattan skyline behind her. The lights in Manhattan glimmered, hearkening passersby to a world of diversity, the first stop for immigrants – but none of that mattered at that moment.

My friend exploded in anger.  “Oh, come ON! Slavery was 150 years ago! They need to get over it! Just stop already!”

“Why?” I retorted. “Why not? What, us Jews can holler ‘Remember the Holocaust’ until our throats are sore, but Black people have to forget their history?”

“Come on Liz, it’s not the same, and you know it.” The conversation was over for her, but not for me.

Why? Why isn’t it the same?

Consider this. A government paid billions of dollars to a group of people its former leader tortured for a period of twelve years. Twelve years.

Amidst this – a quick note: this conversation is not meant to derail those classic arguments that some posit: our people have suffered because of anti-Semitism for thousands of years, so reparations were obviously owed.

I am focusing on the fact that Jews suffered extreme hardships (bodies enslaved, children torn from their mothers, over 6 million dead, business destroyed, homes ransacked, wealth stolen) from one government in particular for just twelve years, and that government paid the survivors billions of dollars.

Now, take the issue of reparations for Black people in this country – those descended from slaves, which is estimated to be approximately 85-90% of the Black population.

For over three hundred years, Black people suffered extreme hardships under slavery – bodies enslaved, children torn from their mothers, hundreds of thousands of innocents dead, wealth stolen.

True, many of these atrocities were committed by “regular” white people, but the U.S. government often sponsored and supported their actions, going so far as to enact the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, which bound law enforcement to return runaway slaves to their master.

Even if the slave was in a free state. Even if that “free” state no longer believed in slavery.

Even after slavery was outlawed, Black people still suffered extreme hardships, sponsored and protected by the U.S. government. They were lynched, had their businesses destroyed, homes ransacked, wealth stolen – just like Jews.

The only difference? The Black community suffered at the hands of the state-sponsored violence for much longer than twelve years.

Between slavery, Jim Crow, and the contemporary school to prison pipeline, the suffering lasted (and continues to) for over four hundred years.

The Black community suffered at the hands of the state-sponsored violence for more than twelve years.

So why is it ridiculous for Black Americans to ask the U.S. government for reparations? After all, our administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has now set aside millions to Holocaust survivors, to be distributed through the Jewish Federations of North America.

Critics of Black reparations say that reparations to Holocaust survivors are just that: payments to survivors, not the descendants of survivors. They argue that paying reparations to people who never “did the time” is foolish and not useful.

However, I would argue for reparations for descendants of survivors if the original survivors did not receive any benefits to their hardships.

Why? When wealth is stolen, it is not easily replaced.

After slavery ended in the United States, slaves were supposed to receive reparations of 40 acres and a mule. This sentiment was not enforced, and so Black people were sent out in the world with nothing. Even when something was built and a moderate amount of wealth was created, like in the town of Durham, North Carolina, threatened Whites would burn businesses to the ground.

Why? When wealth is stolen, it is not easily replaced.

A quick Google of “black wealth vs. white wealth” brings forth an abundance of articles that all state the same thing: Black wealth is significantly lagging in comparison to white wealth.

One article even says that it will take Black families over 200 years to amass the wealth that white people have today. How can one confidently say that billions of dollars given to former slaves, especially at the time that slavery ended, would not have narrowed this gap?

As a Jewish woman, who has family living in Israel, I wholeheartedly support reparations for the thousands of Black descendants of slaves. I can only think back to when I learned about German reparations to Jews, and the thought that crossed my mind: “…at least that. It’s not everything, but AT LEAST THAT.”

I cannot imagine reading about the atrocities of the damage that was inflicted on my people, only to learn that nothing was done in an attempt to help remediate that damage.

It’s time for all Jews to stand up and support the Black community when it comes to requests for reparations. Even if symbolic.

It’s simple: if the United States found it in its heart (and budget) to help Holocaust survivors, then it can certainly help slavery survivors.

Tech Now + Beyond

17 black-owned businesses you’re missing out on

White privilege plays out in the justice system, education, entertainment, politics, opportunities, healthcare and…shall I go on? An area I didn’t really think about until about a year ago was the world of business. But it turns out that while black people make up 13% of the U.S. population, only 7 percent of businesses are black-owned. At the same time, black buying power is growing to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020. We’ve already reached about $1.2 trillion. Think of how much of an impact we’d have if the black community decided to not shop for a day. This county’s economy would not be the same without us.

If you’re startled by these numbers – hi, there, stranger. Welcome to the U.S. Let me catch you up on how folks do things over here: despite black people’s effect on American society, we’re still not viewed as equal. That even applies when black business owners are kept from receiving small business loans from banks. Don’t bother asking why. You know the answer.

I love that we have an impact on the market, but it feels like the relationship is unbalanced. Look at the beauty industry. Black women spend $7.5 billion per year on beauty products yet the standards society set for us are white skin and eurocentric features. Also, the black haircare industry will reach $761 million in 2017. However, my hair is still looked down upon as “unprofessional”. These mainstream companies take advantage of us and live off of it.

Learning about this makes me turn to black-owned businesses. Hardworking black women and men who don’t get looked at enough should get more business, especially knowing our economic power. Helping out these businesses is a way for us to come together. We as a community need to remember we’re on the same team. If one member is falling behind, we’re here to build them back up again.

There’s no better time than now than to start supporting black-owned businesses. I put together a quick list of shops I’ve bookmarked or bought from, but this is barely a fraction of the plethora of amazing black-owned businesses that exist — so I suggest you also start keeping an eye out for more shops.

Not convinced? Well, I know for a fact that makeup from black-owned beauty stores actually offer more than just three shades.

Just saying.

1. Legendary Roots

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@LegendaryRootz (Twitter)

2. Shea Moisture

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Photo taken by Whitney @TheTwoMacks (Twitter)

3. The Wrap Life

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The Wrap Life

4. Inspirado

<a href="">Twitter</a>
@INSPIRADO_CO on Twitter

5. Brave Chick

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@BraveChickTweet on Twitter

6. Marcus Kwame’s Shop



<a href="">Twitter</a>
@MiziziShop (Twitter)

8. Junk Prints

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@JunkPrints (Twitter)

9. naKIMuli

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naKIMuli Facebook page

10. Curlkit

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Curlkit Facebook page

11. Big Chop Hair

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Big Chop Hair

12. BGLH Marketplace

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BGLH Marketplace Facebook page

13. Heat Free Hair

<a href="">Facebook</a>
Heat Free Hair Facebook Page

14. Bevel

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Bevel Facebook page

15. Me & the Bees

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Me & the Bees Instagram page

16. Happy Hair

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Happy Hair Shop website

17. Nubian Skin

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Nubian Skin website
Culture Family Gender & Identity Life

I don’t need to “pray about it,” I need to go to therapy

I told my grandmother that I started to go to therapy when I used to go a while ago, and the first thing she asked was,

“What do you need therapy for?”

I come from a background where family figures I admire don’t trust mental health professionals. I also come from a background where going to a professional is encouraged. But the side that doesn’t approve of therapy intimidated me the most and affected me the most.

Just because one may experience depression and/or anxiety in their life, doesn’t have a direct correlation with their prayer life or spiritual life if they identify as a religious person. It doesn’t mean they aren’t trying hard enough to be rid of their personal pains. It doesn’t mean that they love God any less.

There is still this misconception in the black community where mental issues, or basically any personal issues for that matter, are white issues. We don’t want to be perceived as more wrong than we already are as black people. Which is why mental health is so taboo to talk about in the black community.

That doesn’t make it okay to not seek professional help when necessary and when you are absolutely able. It definitely doesn’t make it okay to tell others that they should not seek help.

We often hear from other black people that we should pray about it instead of going to therapy. But what is wrong with doing both?

I have struggled with anxiety and depression, and I would experience it worse when people would say things like:

“It’s all in your head. God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

I find this very problematic because I find this statement to be bull crap. I believe God has given me a lot of things that I couldn’t handle. If I could handle it, why would I experience it in the first place? However, I do believe that God doesn’t give me anything He cannot fix. I believe He is always to fix things that I can’t.

“You’re just not praying hard enough.”

How do you know what anyone’s prayer life is like unless they tell you? More people tend to pray when they are in stress. So I’m pretty sure my dedication to prayer is fine. If it’s not, that’s between me and the Lord. And, is this blasphemous to say, prayer eventually led me to go to therapy, where I am encouraged to get better and use my spiritual and religious practices along with other exercises.

“This will be all over soon if you just chose to be happy.”

…see, if I force myself to be happy, I’m not really happy. If things were all happy-go-lucky all the time, I wouldn’t know what happiness was. Moreover, I would much prefer to feel joy rather than happiness. Joy is more fulfilling, long-lasting.

Telling someone that one should just pray their depression away when they need other forms of help is not fruitful. Telling someone that they are experiencing depression because they are not loyal enough to God is cruel. I know one may not intend to be cruel, but it is.

Mental health issues are alive and well in the black community. They won’t go away unless we continue finding more ways to talk about it and encourage others to seek help.

Politics The World

What will it take to get you to care about our lives?

Rewind to me a year ago, a sophomore who just learned about police body cameras and is determined to prove to her classmates the positive changes through her next English assignment. Highlighting, gathering facts, making sure sources are reliable, and rewriting some sentences multiple times to get the best wording. Not only did I believe I would get a good grade, but I also truly believed in it despite the cons. Now fast forward back to the present day, I am logging out of Twitter again because I don’t want to run into any more clips of Philando Castile’s and Alton Sterling’s last seconds.

The results from the “Rialto Experiment” seemed promising when I first looked at them (the spark that started my trust in these cameras). Drops in use of force and complaints was enough for me at the time. However, if a jury can hear the recording of a father gasping “I can’t breathe!” while watching him be choked to the ground, but would still find no “reasonable cause” to indict the murderers, then the purpose isn’t being fulfilled.

I can’t tell if I want to cry or laugh at how naive I was to put so much faith into a camera. How could I be so blind? How didn’t I suspect before that the cops’ cameras would just so happen to fall off while on duty or would just so happen be off because they were just getting off duty? I should’ve known every excuse in the book would be used and reused.

And it’s not like the police are the only ones who have cameras. It’s common in the 21st century to see people of all ages have at least one digital camera in their hand (most likely a smartphone). However, visual evidence isn’t enough for White America. It makes sense to shoot a black father for selling CD’s, but not an actual killer who went into a church and stole nine lives (who was given a bulletproof vest). Apparently, it’s fine for a black woman to have her boyfriend taken away from her with five shots with their daughter in the backseat, but her recording the crime is a threat.

What part is not convincing? Would 136 more black lives lost be enough evidence or does it take a white man being treated like a black man to anger you?

Visual evidence is there to help cases, free the innocent, and save hundreds of lives—it’s what parts are being used, parts that aren’t being used, and how it’s being used altogether that is ruining it. Also, the people in charge of the evidence can make you suspicious. The police force is supposed to do their job, even when it means to admit that they were wrong along with making changes about it. However, these “models” and “heroes” of our country don’t like to own up to it, will try to get out of it, and/or try to hide it. There are officers who don’t believe they’ll be convicted before their colleagues assure them the same thing.

If the ones who are supposed to protect us aren’t, what are we supposed to do? It has to be up to us to make the changes. We can’t put down our cameras because it’s them who are being recorded (even if they don’t like it). We can’t go to them with the evidence so our only outlet is social media to bring awareness. White people who know the facts then have the audacity to tell us “stay in your lane”. They want us silent on an issue that doesn’t effect them. Understand this, if the help is only hurting when all you do is exist isn’t that wrong? It’s common sense to let the help know that they aren’t doing their job.