Work Career Career Advice Now + Beyond

Why the #HireBlack initiative is crucial for the modern workplace

Before finding out about the #HireBlack Initiative, my mental health was deteriorating with every passing day. I started to equate my self-worth to my inability to land a job. I cried many nights over being ghosted by jobs, not knowing what I did wrong. At that point, I was begging to get a simple rejection email as proof of being noticed. I spent so much time in college landing opportunities and internships, strengthening my professional relationships, and getting high grades, only to be reduced to not even being a second thought. 

I kept getting flashbacks from a horrible phone call I had with a job recruiter about a promising job offer. After telling me about the opportunity, the conversation did a 180. He told me that because I didn’t immediately get a job or internship the summer after I graduated college, I lost my chance at landing an entry-level job. No matter how great I did in college, it will mean nothing. Despite me working twice as hard to get more experience to make me more hireable in my already competitive field.

The recruiter thought being “real” with me was the best way to go but, instead, he was outright cold. I was holding back tears from the sound of my dreams being crushed. He then thought adding me as a LinkedIn connection would be seen as extending an olive branch after ripping me apart. Seeing that the person I was talking to was a white man made me feel not only personally attacked but had microaggressions thrown at me for no reason. It was like dealing with a racist guidance counselor from hell.

This upsetting situation all came to a head one fateful day over the summer. I have noticed #HireBlack LinkedIn posts from a friend of mine. I’ve been seeing them for the last couple of days and thought nothing of it, but soon decided to put myself out there in an attempt to try something new. At this point, I was willing to try anything for a new result.

The goal was simple; get 19 Black women signed up to get resume feedback on Juneteenth. Creator, Niani Tolbert, wanted to help other Black women in the same position as her – furloughed, jobless, and looking for a fresh start. Tolbert is a job recruiter herself, so she understands how companies select their candidates. At this point last year, not only was the number of people receiving unemployment getting higher but so was racial tensions worsening in the United States. June was a rough month to go through as a Black person. #HireBlack ultimately blew up. 

Job opportunities are always hard to come by, but it’s even worse when systemic racism fights you at every turn.

Along with thousands of other women, I joined the #HireBlack Initiative with hopes of bettering ourselves professionally using resources that are typically hard to come by. Black women who wish to start their careers get their resumes looked over without paying a fee. They can also seek advice about pivoting to a new industry, negotiation tips for higher pay, promoting their Black-owned business, and so much more. The management platform Slack played an essential role in opening communication channels within the initiatives. It hosted conversations about hair politics, discrimination, and everyday events that have long-lasting effects. There was finally a place for Black women to be Black women without sacrificing their identity. 

Initially, #HireBlack was only for those who identified as Black women. Tolbert understood how much harder it is for Black women to get hired compared to other demographics. In a Forbes interview, Tolbert states, “To my core, I believe in giving people resources, and I also believe in helping people pass their limiting beliefs … On another hand, trying to make sure that I am helping to challenge people to think bigger. Whether that’s helping people through coaching or helping through recruiting, I’ve always been trying to do those two because I think that when you have empowered people and you give them resources, they can be the best that they can be. They can do anything.”

Job opportunities are always hard to come by, but it’s even worse when systemic racism fights you at every turn.

Tolbert also said the idea of professionalism is inherently “Eurocentric.” The pressure to straighten naturally curly hair to appease jobs, ‘fix’ the way you talk, or be ashamed of your name because of racist unconscious bias. Through this process of whitewashing, Black women become the hardest hit in the job market and lead them to higher unemployment, few work benefits, and less job stability. Society forces Black women to change themselves to conform to their norms and yet still don’t provide them with the proper access to a sustainable lifestyle. This clear discrepancy is why the #HireBlack Initiative’s most significant objective is to get 10,000 Black women hired. This goal will help offset the established systematic racism and sexism which Black women are constantly fighting against.

While a tool for positive change, it is unfortunate that the #HireBlack initiative came from the turbulent job market mixed with the lack of intersectionality in American society. This plays a huge role in how Black women are oppressed and often discriminated against due to the cross-section of negative effects on gender, race, and class. Even though #HireBlack doesn’t solve everything, it contributes to the fight against gross mistreatment black women face due to systematic racism.

For as long as I’ve been in this community, I was fortunate enough to get a coach to critique my resume and help improve my LinkedIn page. I’ve made friends with other women, heard their personal stories, and listened to their advice. I even donated money because I believe in the message of #HireBlack. I was also able to land my first industry job because of my experience!

From the humble beginnings of June 2020 to now, #HireBlack has created a safe space for Black women. It has now become a place where non-Black allies can join the initiative to tackle their internalized bias. There are more professional services to improve your online professionalism. Weekly coffee hours are live-streamed on LinkedIn to talk about upcoming events. Job recruiters are available to increase network opportunities. The initiative held a virtual conference to address workplace issues and finding solutions. By no means has #HireBlack finished with its mission. It’s only getting started. 

In the words of Tolbert, let’s get to werk.

If you’re still looking for a job, need help, or know someone who would like this, reach out to the #HireBlack website. To join the #HireBlack Initiative, submit your invitation to join the Slack channel. Be a part of a community that only wants to see you succeed and flourish as the proud Black woman you are.

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Health Care Health

A woman discovers she has two vaginas—but why did it take her doctors 25 years to realize it?

Vulvasations is a Tempest Love exclusive series dedicated to spreading awareness about the female reproductive system, debunking myths about periods and dissecting everything vajayjay related. Let’s talk about vaginas!

I was today years old when I discovered a person could be born with two vaginas.

It was a typical Thursday night for me. I was swiftly approaching too many hours spent scrolling on TikTok when I stumbled upon a now-viral video posted by TikTok user @britsburg, Brittany Jacobs. Like most stitched TikToks, the video started with a prompt: What is something a doctor completely ignored you about when clearly there was something wrong? Jacobs immediately claims, “I’m about to own this!”

And own it she does. Jacobs goes on to reveal she was born with two vaginas. This is actually a rare genetic condition known as double uterus or uterus didelphys, which means a person is born with two uteri and potentially two cervixes as well. Typically, a baby’s uterus originates from two small tubes called Mullerian ducts that eventually fuse together while the baby is still in its mother’s womb. With uterus didelphys, however, the tubes never fuse and instead remain divided by a thin membrane.

Pretty cool, right? Well, not exactly.

Jacobs explains that every month, she experiences two painful periods, heavy bleeding, and painful sex. When she was pregnant with her son, she only carried on one side. The only reason she found out about her condition is because a nurse noticed it when she was giving birth to her son.


#stitch with @omqgabbi HOW DO YOU NOT NOTICE THAT LIKE WHAT. #UD #BiggerIsBetter #ShowerWithMoxie #uterusowner #womenempowerment #momsoftiktok

♬ original sound – Britsburg

My first thought after watching this TikTok a few more times was how did the doctors not catch this earlier? As a 25-year-old woman, Jacobs has technically been going to the doctors for 25 years, including gynecologist and obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) visits. The side effects she listed should have clued her doctors into her condition long before she delivered her son.

But this isn’t actually all that shocking when we take into account how modern medicine often fails minority communities.

Historically, medical institutions have long upheld racism and sexism. This deadly combination has culminated for hundreds of years and put many BIPOC in danger. Black women especially are often taken advantage of and dismissed by practicing doctors to this day, with many Black women going on TikTok to discuss why doctors need to do better.


#stitch with @omqgabbi consistently failed by doctors #fyp #doctorfail #listentoblackwomen

♬ original sound – Meikoshi

In fact, doctors’ implicit race- and gender-based bias has put many Black women in jeopardy. The medical industry’s malpractice has contributed to horrible statistics like 40% of Black women being more likely to die from breast cancer compared to white women and Black women being three times more likely to suffer from severe complications from childbirth than white women—both of which could be lower if proper care had been provided by medical professionals.

While egregious facts like these have roots tracing back throughout U.S. history, it’s important to note that “history” doesn’t always mean very long ago.

In the 20th century alone, federally-funded programs included forced sterilizations of immigrants, people of color, including 70,000 Native American women, poor people, unmarried mothers, people with disabilities, and the mentally ill. And, like most of American racism, this practice carried over into the 21st century. Between 2006 and 2010, California prisons authorized the sterilization of 144 female inmates, a majority of whom were Black or Latina.

Let’s say Jacobs did share her ailments with her doctors prior to her pregnancy. Even then there is still the possibility that her doctors dismissed her pain because she’s a woman.

In the 19th century, “hysteria” was often used to “diagnose” women and force them into mental institutions. At the time, it was perfectly okay for husbands to admit their wives to these institutions without the women’s consent. Postpartum depression, infertility, masturbation, and homosexuality were also reasons women were placed in mental institutions.

It’s important to know this history, wrought with the trauma and pain of racism and sexism because we need to be better about holding the medical industry accountable.

I think one of the reasons why we as a society have failed at this is because of doctor dramas like Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, The Good Doctor, House, and more—all of which can be viewed as the medical equivalent of Brooklyn Nine-Nine cop propaganda.

Doctor dramas often show medical professionals going the extra mile to deliver care to their patients. For example, Meredith Grey has been suspended, fired, arrested, and jailed throughout her story’s 17 seasons. She usually faces these consequences because she broke rules in order to help save her patients.

But doctors outside of dramas are not always known for having this same level of dedication. Many of my friends and coworkers struggle with chronic illness and have shared stories about having to convince their doctors to take them seriously and administer a diagnosis.

In addition, people with disabilities reportedly receive inferior health care because less than 20 percent of medical schools teach their students how to talk to patients with disabilities. Furthermore, patients with disabilities are often otherized, which adds a psychological toll for these patients who are already having to advocate for and even explain their medical care to their doctors.

Though we’re told to trust our doctors, this is often easier said than done for many communities. Women of color, especially Black and Native American women, and people with disabilities face discrimination in the medical industry every day, with many people struggling for years to demand proper medical treatment. If our doctors don’t see anything wrong with that, then they are part of the problem.

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Hair Lookbook

I chose to go natural after 11 years of relaxing my hair – here’s how it went

For Black women, hair is a huge part of our identity, esteem, and culture. Unfortunately, many of us have grown up relaxing or perming (straightening our hair using chemicals) our hair to hide our natural curl pattern. Relaxers were so common among us because kinky hair has been historically viewed as unkempt, unprofessional, and undesirable. Personally, I began relaxing my hair when I was 8-years-old. After that, I spent the next 11 years chemically straightening my hair, and in turn damaging it repeatedly. When I turned 19, I finally decided to do what Black women call “the big chop” (cutting all the chemically damaged parts of your hair off) and fully go natural. 

The emotional process while chopping off your hair can be tough. Like I said, for Black women, our hair is a tremendous aspect of our self-esteem. Undergoing the big chop feels as though you’re shedding dead weight in an attempt to release the insecurities that led you to continuously straighten your hair to the point of damage.

However, my natural hair journey has not been linear. As perfectly encapsulated by Giselle La Pompe-Moore in her i-D Vice article, “Natural hair journeys are as diverse as the spectrum of afro hair textures experiencing them.” Like many other Black girls, I initially struggled with my confidence while being natural as I had always been insecure about my kinky curls. It was particularly hard to see my hair so short after I spent my whole life having an unhealthy obsession with length. For a while, I would even use protective styles like braids or wigs to hide how short my hair was. And in between styles, I would wear scarves to avoid having to embrace my short length. It took baby steps to gain the confidence I sought in my natural hair.

First, I had to learn how to upkeep my 4c hair texture. 4c hair is very particular in how it grows, how it’s styled, and how it must be managed. So, I had to trial and error (emphasis on the error) my way through finding products that worked best for my hair. Then there’s the detangling process. Honestly, it took me years to learn how to effectively detangle my hair. All of which came with years worth of tears and frustration as well as me trying to refrain from hating my hair all over again; this time, for its difficulty to manage.

Though, once I figured out how to manage my hair, I had to learn to style it. Unsurprisingly, this took another long while before I perfected my signature slicked updo with laid edges. Admittedly, it was the easiest style I could manage learning, so now it’s my signature look when I’m not wearing a protective style. After I found a way to make my hair presentable enough, I would periodically tease showing my natural hair outside of my house. For example, if I was going somewhere I was sure no one I knew would see me, I would test my confidence while wearing my natural hair out of a protective style or scarf.

However, three years since embarking on this hair journey, I’m in love with my 4c hair texture and kinky edges more every day. Going natural taught me how to be truly confident, for being natural allowed me to work towards loving myself in ways I never could before. It forced me to get to know a version of myself I hadn’t even seen since I was a child. Regardless of difficulties along the way, I began to find comfort in my nonlinear road to self-acceptance and love because I thoroughly liked the person I was getting to know. 

In addition, many Black women seem to be undergoing the same journey of acceptance. Thanks to social media and Black female influencers who started the hair love movement, Black women everywhere are embracing their natural hair texture. In fact, a short film titled, “Hair Love” won an Oscar last year due to social media’s strong support of the project, which has been further impactful to the movement.

To any Black girl reading who is thinking of going natural, despite how it may seem on social media, the process is not easy, but it is worth it. It’s likely you won’t immediately fall in love with your kinks, and it’s likely you may even feel self-conscious for a while. However, there’s so much power in our natural hair as well as the way our hair connects us to our identity and lineage. We should’ve never been made to feel insecure about the hair that grows naturally from our scalp in the first place. Simply being natural feels like you’re a living act of resistance. A resistance that firmly rejects Euro-centric beauty standards pushed onto Black women and allows us to reclaim our confidence on our own terms.

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History Historical Badasses

How Mildred D. Taylor’s stories can teach us how to be hopeful throughout hardships

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.

When I was in seventh grade, my English class was assigned to read a book titled Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. I can’t remember the exact moment I learned about racism in school, but reading this book was an eye-opener. To this day, I can still recall two vivid scenes from the book: Cassie Logan describing the worn-out textbooks meant for Black students and her Papa’s leg being crushed by a wagon during a racist ambush.

Mildred D. Taylor began writing about the Logan family in 1975 with her first novella, Song of the Trees. Her historical works are about the hardships faced by African-American families living in the Deep South. Taylor was not the first author to narrate such moving stories. Yet, to me, she stood out for the sense of hope and resilience she breathes into her characters.

Taylor was born in Jackson, Mississippi, but moved north with her family when she was just three months old. Despite not having a Southern upbringing, she insisted that the region held pleasant memories for her as her family’s home. They eventually settled in Toledo, Ohio as her father did not want her and her sister to grow up in the racially segregated society of the South that he lived in. When Taylor started school, she was the only black child in her class. Yearly trips to Mississippi and firsthand stories from family gatherings helped her become familiar with the South. Taylor would eventually use some of the stories for her novels.

Taylor attended the University of Toledo where she majored in English and minored in History. By age 19, she had written her first novel, Dark People, Dark World. Sadly, due to revision disagreements with a publisher, the novel was never published. After graduation, Taylor joined the Peace Corps and taught in Arizona and Ethiopia. She then attended the University of Colorado School of Journalism, where she worked with university officials and fellow students to curate a Black Studies program. It’s inspiring how Taylor maintained the respect from her roots and encouraged for others to do the same in education.

In addition to all those accomplishments, Taylor kept writing. In 1973, Taylor entered a contest funded by the Council on Interracial Books for Children. “I tried writing [a story] from a boy’s point of view because the story was based on my father’s life, but that didn’t work,” Taylor said in a 2006 interview with the American Library Association. “So I decided to retell it from the girl’s point of view. It won that honor and got my foot in the door.”

The story was eventually published as Song of the Trees, and won first prize in the contest’s African-American category. It was also listed as an outstanding book of the year in the New York Times.

In 1977, she also won the Newberry Medal for the sequel to Song of the Trees, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and several other literary recognitions.

“I wanted to show a different kind of black world from the one so often seen,” she said of her characters, the Logan family. “[Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry] will always be the most special book I have written.”

Black stories are often heavily centered around trauma. There’s a common assumption that Blacknes and suffering go hand in hand. While the Logans are a disadvantaged family, what we learn from them is their ability to make the most out of situations. Cassie and her brothers are a strong unit who have a solid relationship with their parents and appreciate who they are surrounded by. If anything, Taylor has shown us the importance of family dynamics in the face of constant trauma.

In an interview with The Brown Bookshelf, Taylor commented on the backlash of parents who felt her work was too painful for children to read. “As much as it hurts me to write words of pain, I know that they must be written, for they are truthful words about the time I write,” she said.

Sometimes, even if it can be uncomfortable, writing about pain is necessary. It can help others become more attentive to voices that are often silenced. What I find heartbreakingly relatable is that the Logan children instantly learned that they were living in a different world than their white peers. How Taylor writes about pain from Cassie’s perspective lets readers know that children are never too young to start understanding the world around them.

In the same interview, Taylor discussed receiving letters from students like myself who read her books as required reading. The students, however, said the books weren’t just about history. Rather, they are about the values they wished were more a part of their world today.

In Taylor’s words, “[It] is so uplifting to find there are still those who read my books and not only feel a greater understanding about our past, but feel the relevancy of that past to apply to the great turmoil of today’s world.”

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Skin Care Lookbook

7 up and coming Black owned skincare brands to keep an eye out for

Lately, the beauty community seems to be shifting its focus to skincare. Skincare tips and information are quickly becoming more popular amongst the public who are searching for beauty related content. There are popular skincare influencers across all major social media platforms from Instagram, YouTube, Tick Tock, and even Twitter. 

Particularly, Black women skincare influencers are a major influence and source of reliability in the skincare community on social media. Notably, many of these Black women who are skincare enthusiasts or estheticians also own skincare lines or companies of their own. 

Here are 7 up and coming Black woman-owned skincare companies to look out for:

1. Rosen Skincare

[Image description: Skin care products from Rosen Skincare.] Via
[Image description: Skincare products from Rosen Skincare.] Via
Jamika Martin, brand owner, and founder created Rosen after her own struggles dealing with acne. Rosen caters to individuals with acne-prone skin and offers people a cleaner way to combat their stubborn skin concerns. Rosen values integrity by committing themselves to be transparent regarding what is in their skincare products, how the products are made, and, ultimately, what makes their products so effective. 

Rosen’s skincare products can be found in Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

2. Black Girl Sunscreen

[Image description: A product photo of Black Girl Sunscreen.] Via
[Image description: A product photo of Black Girl Sunscreen.] Via
Black Girl Sunscreen, created in 2016, is probably one of the most prominent, up and coming sunscreen companies to come out of the last decade. Black Girl Sunscreen caters specifically to people with melanin as the founder, Shontay Lundy, wanted to make a sunscreen that doesn’t leave streaks or white casts on dark skin. However, anybody can benefit from Black Girl Sunscreen’s amazing formula. They do not use parabens or harmful chemicals to craft their sunscreen, which, notably, is also kid-friendly.

You can find Black Girl Sunscreen in Target. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

3. Buttermeupgoods Skincare

[Image description: Skin care products from Buttermeupgoods Skincare.] Via buttermeupgoods' Twitter
[Image description: Skincare products from Buttermeupgoods Skincare.] Via buttermeupgoods’ Twitter
Established in 2014, Buttermeupgoods Skincare covers all your skincare and wellness needs in one go. This Black woman-owned luxury skincare company challenges consumers to invest in their skin and seeks to take your skincare routine to the next level. Buttermeupgoods provides natural, hand-crafted products that are formulated with organic, non-GMO ingredients as stated on their website. Their products cater to various skin types and concerns and have no harsh additives, chemicals, or ingredients.

Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.


[Image description: Two hats from GLOWDEGA laying on the grass.] Via
[Image description: Two hats from GLOWDEGA laying on the grass.] Via
“Like a bodega but for skincare.” GLOWDEGA’s online shop was born amidst the pandemic last year to accommodate the company owner’s temporarily closed skincare studio in Oakland, California. This up and coming skincare store is owned and operated by @FairyGlowMuva as listed across her social media accounts or otherwise Hadiyah Daché.

GLOWDEGA provides a range of products and services. Customers can order face products and cleansing tools from some of their favorite brands as well as book online skin consultations.

Follow GLOWDEGA on Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to Hadiyah’s Youtube channel.

5. Ixora Botanical Beauty

[Image description: Skin care products from Ixora Botanical Beauty.] Via
[Image description: Skin care products from Ixora Botanical Beauty.] Via
Ixora Botanical Beauty’s products are the results of when natural skincare meets science. This small, Black woman-owned company was launched in 2012 from the St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Since then, Ixora Beauty has since sold over $100,00 worth of products and caters to customers across the globe. 

Ixora Beauty’s products specifically cater to dry skin and other skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis in a way that is both natural and affordable. They also offer personalized skincare consultations in addition to their wide range of skin, bath, and body products for both men and women.

Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

6. Honeydipped Cosmetics

[Image description: Skincare products from Honeydipped Cosmetics.] Via
[Image description: Skincare products from Honeydipped Cosmetics.] Via
Honeydipped Cosmetics was founded in 2017 by company-owner Tamara Thomas. This up and coming skincare line is an all-natural, plant-based, organic skincare line that is additionally cruelty-free. Honeydipped offers its customers a diverse range of products from cleansers, face and beard serums, and moisturizers as well as body care items like body butter and washes.

Their products have been featured in prominent publications like British GQ, Vanity Fair, and Harper’s Bazaar. Additionally, Honeydipped frequently offers valuable skincare advice across their social media accounts, including Instagram and Tik Tok.

Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

7. Base Butter

[Image description: Skin care products from Base Butter.] Via
[Image description: Skin care products from Base Butter.] Via
Base Butter has been featured in publications such as Essence, Elle, and Cosmopolitan. Co-founded by CEO She’Neil Johnson and VP of product Nicolette Graves, Base Butter seeks to make accommodating skincare for acne-prone and oily combination skin types.

Their products are designed to be understood by their customers in a way that is simple yet effective. Base Butter wants to help people feel protected and comfortable in their skin by crafting nourishing products that are redefining the intersections of beauty and skincare.

Follow them on Twitter

With the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer as well as it being Black History Month, many consumers are looking for Black-owned companies to give their support. There are tons of great up and coming Black woman-owned skincare lines, founded within the last decade, definitely making their mark within the skincare space across social media and beyond. We’re definitely here for it and hope you are too!

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History Forgotten History Lost in History Historical Badasses

Black women were at the core of the Harlem Renaissance

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.

I first heard about the Harlem Renaissance when watching Black Nativity, a retelling of the Nativity story with Black characters.

The Harlem Renaissance was a twentieth-century African-American movement in art, culture, literature, politics, and music. Creativity and intellectual life flourished at this time for African-American communities following the Great Migration, where hundreds of families migrated from the South to the North for economic opportunities and to acquire cultural capital. Major players include Langston Hughes, Adelaide Hall and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

The name Langston was a frequent recurrence in the Black Nativity and I thought to myself, “who was this man?” After researching, I found out that Langston Hughes was an exceptional poet who contributed immensely to the Harlem Renaissance. However, as great as Langston’s poetry is, I began to think about the countless Black women who must have had an influence on the birth of this new African American identity.

It was not limited to only Black men or just Harlem. Despite being centered in Harlem, it was a diasporic movement with Black Francophone writers in Paris being influenced.

[Image description: Meta Warrick Fuller] Via Library of Congress
As mentioned above, the Harlem Renaissance has been known to be about the emergence of new forms of art and literature by African Americans living in Harlem, New York. After the First World War, artists such as Meta Warrick Fuller were influenced by African themes and this was reflected in her artwork. She was the first Black woman to receive a federal commission for her art. One of her most notable sculptures, ‘Ethiopia Awakening’ (1914) catalyzed the resurgence of numerous African themes in the Harlem Renaissance.

[Image description: Jessie Redmon Fauset] Via Library of Congress
Jessie Redmon Fauset has been described as the “midwife of the Harlem Renaissance” due to her position as the literary editor of The Crisis, an NAACP magazine. Her position as editor gave her the opportunities to promote literary work relating to social movements of the era. Fauset was ahead of her time as an editor! She discouraged writers to write about their struggles being Black in the early 20th century but rather encouraged them to speak about positivity, ensuring there was positive representation of Black identity in the magazine.

It’s interesting to see how even back then there was a collective understanding of what constitutes Black joy, Black identity, and why it must be preserved for future generations. It’s just bittersweet to see that up until today Black people are still writing about struggle given our experiences in the world. I wonder what Fauset anticipated for the future of Black writers. Would they be writing about joy and positivity?

Her influence during the era was unmatched, she bolstered the careers of figures we now know to be Langston Hughes and Nella Larson.

[Image description: Josephine Baker poses for a portrait in a beaded gown in 1970.] Via Getty Images
Remember Betty Boop? She was inspired by Josephine Baker. Dubbed the trendsetter and fashionista of the Renaissance, she served as inspiration for Black women and white women at the time with her outfits. Even across the Atlantic, she was causing a commotion. I mean, this is nothing new.

One of the most notable aspects of her career as a dancer is her refusal to perform for segregated audiences and this speaks volumes. By refusing to do so, she acknowledged her worth and respected herself enough by not doing so. I guess not everything is worth the bag. Her fashion influence left people copying left, right and center. Josephine was an influencer before her time.

After shining a light on three prominent women during the Harlem Renaissance, I’ll remember that there are so many stories out there and sometimes you just have to find them. 

[Image Description: An illustrated graphic featuring several Black women with the text saying Black History Month in capital letters] Via The Tempest
[Image Description: An illustrated graphic featuring several Black women with the text saying Black History Month in capital letters] Via The Tempest
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Race Life

The “angry Black woman” stereotype makes me hesitate to defend myself

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, life, and work of Black people.

Being a Black woman causes me to severely overthink, especially when contemplating if and when to stand up for myself while being viewed by others as inherently angry. The angry Black woman stereotype: every Black woman has felt the burden of this stereotype at one or many times throughout our lives. Personally, I’ve found myself in many situations or conversations that were both micro-aggressive and aggressive in a racist context. As a result, throughout my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood I’ve been made to feel uncomfortable while at school, at parties, and in work environments. 

Therefore, I’m constantly battling the angry Black girl stereotype, and my personal mission to always stand up for myself. Admittedly, too often, I allow my internalized insecurity to win. The societal stigmas against Black women cause me to be silent. I’ve been called angry, aggressive, or defensive in times I was simply not allowing someone to disrespect me or others. So given my history of being gaslighted, I’ve forgone standing up for myself or firmly setting or maintaining a boundary out of fear of being seen by others as the angry Black girl.

However, I’m slowly learning to overcome my internalized insecurities with the intention that I’ll never second guess putting myself first again.

The angry Black woman stereotype was created as an extension of the sapphire stereotype during the antebellum period, which categorized Black women as inherently masculine, aggressive, and dominant. The angry Black woman stereotype is a reimagined, racially charged trope that often goes undetected as it persists within modern society, pop culture, and politics; mostly because the stereotype is a manipulation technique used to silence Black women. The imagery of the original sapphire trope may look different or be less obvious, but the harmful effects it has on Black women remain.

Within recent years, prominent figures and celebrities such as Janet Hubert, who originally played Aunt Viv in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, and Monique have all had to navigate through being stereotyped and/or type-casted as difficult, angry, or masculine women. In particular, Janet and Monique have been blacklisted in Hollywood for years because of the harm being labeled as “difficult” have on Black women’s careers.

Besides, the angry Black woman stereotype is downright hurtful as much as it is harmful. According to a Forbes article written by Janice Gassam Asare, “Black women were found to experience many negative health outcomes including anxiety, at a greater rate than their white counterparts” because of how often we suppress our emotions. This gaslighting technique of accusing someone of greatly overreacting when they aren’t, that people continuously use against Black women, is an intentional tool of oppression.

Essentially, we are taught not to challenge the intersecting marginalizations that continue to severely oppress Black women. Instead, Black women are forced to shrink ourselves into quiet submission or simply be complicit with treatment we aren’t comfortable with so people won’t weaponize our emotions against us. Consequently, the angry Black woman stereotype lumps Black women into a monolith of combativeness and negativity while it strips us of our feelings and humanity.

Notably- if the world can impose this stereotype on the aforementioned women with as much status, money, or influence as they have, imagine what the average Black woman is forced to tolerate at work, in class, in shops or restaurants, and elsewhere.

Since late May of 2020, we should be seeing a supposed societal shift in oppressive race dynamics, as people promised to “listen and learn” about the harmful effects of racism. Luckily, I have some suggestions on how people can better show up for Black women, specifically when we are forced to combat the angry Black woman stereotype.

People need to first reflect on what about Black women causes the world to view us as inherently angry and why Black women are the ones most punished for having feelings perceived as negative. People must confront their internal biases and empathize with Black women’s frustration- and yes, anger- regarding how we are treated in a racist and patriarchal society. Lastly, people should begin the work towards dismantling the stereotype by always standing up for Black women whenever and wherever they can. 

As for Black women, it’s hard, but we must learn not to view ourselves as inherently angry either. Standing up for yourself or exerting your will does not make you angry. In fact, there is nothing wrong with anger as an emotion. It’s natural and sometimes warranted. After all, we have a lot to be angry about anyway. As Delta B. Mckenzie perfectly concludes in an article for Medium, “As a Black woman, I have a right to be angry. I have a right to be loud. I have a right to be anything I want to be. If society wants to put my emotions down to a demeaning stereotype then I say, let it.”

Black women- work towards consistently showing up for yourself despite what others have or continue to tell you. I’m additionally trying to remind myself that my feelings are valid, and I shouldn’t ever have to make myself smaller to coddle anyone. Ultimately, my humanity should matter more than other people’s biased, racist, and inaccurate perception of me anyway.

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[Image Description: An illustrated graphic featuring several Black women with the text saying Black History Month in capital letters] Via The Tempest
[Image Description: An illustrated graphic featuring several Black women with the text saying Black History Month in capital letters] Via The Tempest
Music Pop Culture

For the kids who grew up with reggaetón: an interview with Katelina Eccleston, creator of “Reggaeton con la Gata”

A great example of mainstream reggaetón was Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi’s 2017 song, Despacito. The song spent 16 weeks at No. 1 in the Billboard Charts and became the most-streamed song worldwide. No doubt Despacito was a commercial triumph. However, reggaetón fans felt Despacito did not have the same flow as other songs that defined the genre, such as 2005 Daddy Yankee’s hit song Gasolina. Recent reggaetón hits like Mi Gente by J Balvin, Tenemos que Hablar by Bad Bunny, and Despacito lean towards a pop sound and distance themselves from the pure Latin American sounds.

I remember being in middle school in 2006, where I would listen to The Strokes, and Tego Calderon. I was one of the few kids in my school who would listen to alternative rock and reggaetón.  But reggaetón was part of me, my parents listened to it. My most vivid memories are of when I would travel to Nicaragua, and my friends were all dancing and singing to reggaetón.

Reggaeton is distancing itself from the pure Latin American sounds.

Now as  I step out into my streets in Los Angeles, California I hear people blasting the tunes of Bad Bunny and Ozuna. Which is great and I am glad reggaetón is attracting a new audience. However, nothing compares to those reggaetón dembow beats of the late 90s and early 2000s.

Walter Mercado co-founder of Adobo a DMV’s Authentic Afro Latin American experience express the following: “The genre’s popularity in the Western market may seem sudden, but it has been a long time coming. In order to get a closer look at reggaetón history we decided to speak to an expert.”

“Reggaetón needs to go back to when everyone had their own sound, now it’s all cookie-cutter,” he said in a tweet

We decided to interview an expert to ask her if she felt this was the case.

Meet Panamanian Katelina Eccleston, creator of Reggaetón Con La Gata a multimedia platform dedicated to the history, and evolution of reggaetón. She started this platform in 2017 as a result of her interest to bridge academia, and reggaetón. We spoke about the history of reggaetón, what is reggaetón, and women in the genre.

[Image Description : Katalina with DJ Blass.] Via Reggaeton Con La Gata
[Image Description : Katalina with DJ Blass.] Via Reggaeton Con La Gata
For Katelina “reggaetón is Puerto Rican”, but as she meant with reggaetón pioneer legend DJ Blass he says that reggaetón all began with Panamanians.

The movement began as a result of migration from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and other countries in search of labor at the Panama Canal. As a result of this Jamaican-Panamanians created Reggae in Spanish or plena as it is largely called during the Puerto Rican era of the underground in the 1990s. Katelina describes how reggaetón pioneers such as Maicol Superstar, and a number of others travelled to Panama, to learn the instrumentation of Panamanian Reggae. After staying as much as 6 months she says, these pioneers contributed what they learned in Panama to the Nuyorican hip-hop influences.

Katelina states how “this fusion created the framework for what is known today as reggaetón”. She further elaborates how people tend to combine reggaetón with reggae en español when they are entirely different.

El general Reggeaton con la Gata
[Image description:  Spanish reggae legend El General.] Via Reggaeton Con La Gata

“This conflation of both genres is due to people associating Panamanian Spanish reggae singer El General to reggaetón,” Katelina says. El General is considered to be one of the “founding fathers” of Spanish reggae. His songs such as Tu pum pum, and Rica y Apretadita in the early 90’s became famous in the mainstream market. Which opened doors to other Spanish reggae artists.

Katelina describes how El General, and Panama history is important to the evolution of what is known today as reggaetón. She as well emphasizes when El General retired from music, the efforts by Puerto Ricans dominated the industry, and continue to do so.

“Reggaeton is the manifestation of the blanqueamiento of perreo,” Katalina adds.

She goes on to explain how perreo is a genre which was created in the late 1990s early 2000s by the likes of DJ Playero, DJ Blass, DJ Rafi Mercenario, and DJ Nelson. She mentions how the essences utilized in perreo are largely black, reggae, dancehall, bomba, hip-hop, and rap. She relates how a large number of the artists were black, but perreo transformed to pop or reggaetón as it became mainstream. Katelina expresses how the sound reflected less, and less nuances of black culture. Instead she describes how the black aesthetics are largely used in fashion aesthetics but for a few exceptions like Sech, Bryant Myers, Anonimus, Ozuna and Don Omar–as mainstream goes.

As we spoke about reggaeton, we dived into the discussion of women in the genre.

I do not see any mainstream negras in reggaetón, despite the genre being derived from such a black place,” Katelina says, although she is glad to see more women in reggaetón.

Despite the lack of black reggaetoneras, for me, Katelina is already breaking barriers by creating her platform as a black Panamanian woman talking about reggaetón.

Amongst all these reggaetoneros, we both discussed our love for Ivy Queen, the star of the genre. 

Ivy Queen Sentimiento album
[Image description: Ivy Queen in her Sentimiento album] . Via
“Ivy Queen is iconic because at the time of her introduction to the movement lyrically, her music transcended a number of intersections tying in feminist attitudes into a largely macho space,” Katelina says.

She elaborates how Ivy Queen timeless hit Yo Quiero Bailar and her classic Reggae Respect were executed with such success during a time where the movement was moving so quickly makes her master of her domain. Before we wrapped up our conversation, Katalina mentioned one of her podcast episodes where she talks about how under this new era, and new market, she is not a fan of the clean reggaetón that is being produced.

Katelina describes now even grandma likes reggaetón because they sing to Maluma. Top hits from artists like Rosalia, and J Balvin in 2019 like Despacito dominated the world with their clean-cut song Con Altura. Another reggaeton hit that is just pop. Or how many like Katalina refer it to as popetón.

However, reggaeton is still seen as low, and dirty despite the change. Although she has no problem of Grandma singing to Maluma, Katelina says the misses “the raunchiness that attracted me to the genre in the first place.”

You hear elements of this raunchiness in Bad Bunny song Safaera, but if you are like Katelina you are aware this hit is influenced by Alexis and Fido song “El Tiburon ” which debuted back in 2005.

Recently on August 7th old school reggaetoneros Jowell y Randy dropped their album “Viva El Perreo” or “Long live Perreo”. The album is literally a homage to the essence of reggaetón.  It brings a mix of old and the new school of reggaeton, by featuring  reggaeton artist from the early 2000s in album produced by young composers like San Benito (a.k.a Bad Bunny).

For many this release brought us back to the perreo we had been yearning for years. No doubt there was some of us dancing to this album in our room, making our quarantine a little more fun.

For people like Katelina, the perreo in reggeaton is what makes people dance.  If you are one who is just now vibing with today’s reggaeton then it’s time you follow Reggaeton con La Gata to get in sync with perreo.

Despite reggaetón going more mainstream, there are still great songs out there. From artists like Rafa Pabon, Myke Towers, Sech, Jhay Cortez, and even Bad Bunny’s recent albums.  Yet one must know all these new artists who have emerged over the last few years are influenced by the old school reggaeton, they grew up listening to.

Now I am always going to celebrate the growth of this genre, and yes I am going to listen to the new artists, and I might not be a fan of all the breaking hit songs, but I am always going to play those throwbacks, because I am a kid that grew up with reggaetón.

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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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History Forgotten History

How Nikiwe Deborah Matshoba stood for the liberation of South Africa

It is no secret that women are the forgotten heroes of our past. Women have routinely been written out of history: Black Consciousness activist Nikiwe Deborah Matshoba is no exception. 

Growing up, my mother always talked of the women who had birthed South Africa’s democracy through their commitment to the liberation struggle.

I used to nod dutifully as she recalled, often with tears in her eyes, the sacrifices and pain endured by the women who inspired her, who taught her how to fight and how to love.

After all, love is the mark of a true revolutionary.

The Black Consciousness Movement is a well-known aspect of South African history. However, the names associated with the struggle for freedom are those of men, undeniably great, but by no means alone in their endeavors. I never questioned this, because ultimately, how can we remember those who we have never known? 

I learned about Steve Biko’s BCM in school and lamented the past imprisonment of my childhood hero, Nelson Mandela. But it was only at home that the women who fought for our freedom featured. Unfortunately, I was guilty of that tragic belief held by many young people: that my mother was not more knowledgeable than the teachers designated to educate me.

If we look to the women whom history has passed over, we can find strength in their resilience and hope in their courage.

I regret my arrogance and inattention to this day. 

A true freedom fighter, Nikiwe Deborah Matshoba is celebrated for her critical and endless role in South Africa’s struggle for liberation and equality. Born in 1950 in Krugersdorp, Matshoba went on to play an instrumental role in the demise of the apartheid regime. 

Matshoba followed in her mother’s footsteps, joining the South African Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) when she was fresh out of high school. At only 20 years old, she was sent to Ghana to represent the organization at its 1971 world congress.  

A year previously, Matshoba had joined the ranks of the South African Students Organization (SASO). She gained wide respect when later nominated as SASO’s Literacy Trainer, teaching the necessity of cognitive liberation using the Paulo Freire Method. 

Black Consciousness taught love and self-worth, strength and dignity. It was the movement which enabled a national understanding of the oppression that had allowed the white minority to sustain an apartheid state. Matshoba played an integral role in progressing the BCM. She advocated for the psychological and physical liberation of the oppressed, enabling conscientization of the reality in which Black communities existed. 

Matshoba was well-known for her radical politics and unfailing resolve in the pursuit of justice. She was quick to challenge ideas that undermined the core principles of Black Consciousness and equality. 

During her testimony at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in July 1997, Matshoba recounted her past as a BCM activist and executive member of SASO. She spoke of her brutal encounters with apartheid security police, detailing the inconceivable torture and psychological abuse she was subject to. 

A poster for 1976 Soweto Uprising in South Africa
[Image description: A red and black poster with a crowd of protesters and the words “June 16 Mass Action for People’s Power”.] via South African History Archives.
Matshoba was first arrested in June of 1976 for her involvement in the Soweto Uprising and held in the infamous John Vorster Prison in Johannesburg.

Whilst imprisoned Matshoba joined forces with many other liberation activists, including veterans Winnie Madikizela Mandela and Fatima Meer. Despite their incarceration these activists continued to organize the revolution, protesting from within and conscientizing Black wardresses. 

Six weeks after her release Matshoba was arrested again, this time under Section Six of the Terrorism Act.

A week into her detainment she was taken from her cell and her ankle manacled to a large iron ball. She stood like this for several days. A policeman gave her a pen and told her to write a statement, detailing her personal history and involvement in SASO. She wrote only on herself. The officers repeatedly tore up her statement, forcing her to rewrite it each time.

On the third day her leg began to swell and she became delirious. Still, she persisted in her refusal to betray the movement. She was beaten, strangled and had her head slammed against a wall repeatedly. This continued for over a week. She was not allowed to sit. It became evident that Matshoba would not decry her fellow freedom fighters, or the cause to which she had pledged her loyalty. 

Matshoba was tortured, but she never gave up.

Physically weak, severely traumatized and denied her asthma medication, security police hoped that she would die as a result of her conditionShe was transferred to a detention facility where she recovered, aided by a sympathetic policeman who smuggled in her medication. 

Matshoba was then moved between several other detention centers, spending a total of 18 months in solitary confinement. 

In 1978 she was told she was being released, but upon arriving home was instead arrested and imprisoned for a further six months. On the day she was eventually freed she was served with a five-year banning order, effective immediately. During this period she was confined to a single magisterial district; her marriage did not survive. 

Unlike those who narrate history, Matshoba was acutely aware of the critical role that women play in times of revolution. She was known for fiercely rejecting her male-counterparts views on gender and continually refused their asserted authority.

She firmly believed that “a nation’s political maturity is measured by the political awareness of women.” 

There is a war of gender-based violence currently being waged on South African women. But if we look to the women whom history has passed over, we can find strength in their resilience and hope in their courage. These are the women who got us to where we stand today.

Matshoba stood for the liberation of her country, literally. It is our duty to rewrite her into history. 

As a South African woman, I take great comfort in knowing that liberation is in my country’s blood. It is our legacy.

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TV Shows Movies Pop Culture

21 movies and shows you can watch to understand how racism works

If you’ve had the privilege of never experiencing discrimination or if you are a POC who doesn’t fully grasp the history and weight of racism, now is not the time to burden your black friends with the task of educating you, even if you have the best of intentions.

Now is not the time to be asking for free emotional labor from the black community, many of whom are already under emotional duress from the events of the past weeks. Racism has been long established as a tool of oppression on a global scale that it’s contributed to generational trauma. In fact, it’s been more than established, racism is a learned behavior that has been protected and enforced to this day. So while you’re donating and signing petitions, here are some works that break down systematic oppression.

1. Who Killed Malcolm X? (2020)

Malcolm X
[Image description: Malcolm X standing at a podium, arm raised over microphones] Via Who Killed Malcom X?
This Netflix mini docu-series is on the assassination of Malcolm X, a prominent black American Muslim Civil Rights Era activist. The series outlines some alarming evidence regarding his assassination in 1965 and explores the conspiracy that he was killed by white supremacists with the help of the government. After the docu-series was released earlier this year, the murder investigation of Malcolm X was put under review. 

2. When They See Us (2019)

When They See Us
[Image description: A detective points a finger at one of the Central Park Five in an interrogation room] Via When They See Us 
A true-crime mini-series, this is the story of the Central Park Five, five teenagers falsely accused of the assault and rape of a white woman jogging through Central Park. The show follows their trial and wrongful convictions. 

3. 13th (2016)

[Image description: Angela Davis, prison abolitionist, speaking in an old court room] Via 13th
Named for the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery in America, this documentary film traces the connections between the rise of mass incarceration in the United States and the justice system. It proves how slavery is alive and well in modern times through the prison-industrial complex and the disproportionate convictions of minorities. Netflix even uploaded the film in full to YouTube, so it would be accessible to everyone. You can watch it right here

4. American Son (2019)

American Son
[Image description: Kerry Washington looking at a cell phone in horror with an FBI agent and a police officer] Via American Son 
Starring Kerry Washington, this film follows a mother anxiously waiting for news on her disappeared son in a police department. Racial tensions are discussed through conversations with her ex-husband, a white FBI agent. He is just as concerned for their missing son but doesn’t understand his ex-wife’s fear of police.

5. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

Beale Street

This film tells the story of Tish and Fonny, sweethearts since childhood, and of the racial discrimination they face. From being denied rent by New York landlords in the 70s to Fonny’s wrongful arrest after being falsely accused of rape. The film discusses abuse of power by the police as well as the flaws in the justice system.

6. Imperial Dreams (2018)

Imperial Son
[Image description: John Boyega sitting with friends, looking at something out of view] Via Imperial Son
Starring John Boyega, this film is about a reformed gangster, returning home after serving time in prison. Imperial Dreams discusses mass incarceration, racial profiling as well as the rehabilitation prisoners need after being granted their freedom.

7. Dear White People (2014)

Dear White People
[Image description: Tessa Thompson and cast staring directly into the camera] Via Dear White People
Later also adapted into an amazing Netflix show, this comedy film details the many microaggressions Black students experience at a fictitious Ivy League. The lead Samantha White, played by Tessa Thompson, is a frustrated student who begins a radio show to call out white people for their racist behavior.

8. The Great Debaters (2007)

The Great Debaters
[Image description: Denzel Washington and cast sit attentively, one holding a vintage camera] Via Great Debaters
Denzel Washington plays a debate coach at a HBCU during the 1930s in the Jim Crow South. He is determined to elevate his team of students to the same stature as their white opponents. This film discusses the racism and segregation found in academia as well as the violence experienced by black students in the American South.

9. Seven Seconds (2018)

Seven Seconds
[Image description: A detective stands a snowy, blood spattered hill with the Statue of Liberty in the background] Via Seven Seconds
This show is about the hit and run of a young black boy by a police officer and how members of the Jersey City Police Department scramble to cover it up to “protect their own”. This limited series is crucial in understanding the way a police force operates like an elite gang, abusing their power and carrying out injustices.

10. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)

The Last Black Man in San Francisco
[Image description: A young man stares up at a Victorian style house] Via The Last Black Man in San Francisco 
Jimmie Fails and his best friend Mont Allen spend their days roaming San Francisco, musing over the city’s changes due to gentrification and how it’s affecting the community. Jimmie dreams about reclaiming the Victorian house he grew up in and sees his opportunity when the current owners have a dispute over the estate.

11. Selma (2014)

[Image description: Crowds of marchers cross a bridge to advocate for black voting rights] Via Selma
A historical drama, Selma follows the voting rights marches lead by the revolutionary Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965. Directed by 13th’s Pea-body award-winning Ava DuVernay, this film centers on the political tensions and various threats King faced while organizing a march to register black voters in the state of Alabama.

12. BlacKkKlansmen (2018)

[Image description: Split screen of the conversation the Colorado Spring Police Force’s first black officer] Via BlacKkKlansman
Directed by Spike Lee, this film tells the story of Ron Stallworth, the first black officer in the Colorado Springs Police Department. It details the racial discrimination Stallworth faces from his coworkers and the undercover operation he begins to infiltrate a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

13. Do the Right Thing (1989)

Do the Right Thing
[Image description: A white man confronts a younger black man in Brooklyn] Via Do the Right Thing
Another directorial piece from Spike Lee, this classic dramedy outlines the rising racial tension in a Brooklyn neighborhood. The film focuses on the ethnically diverse neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant and the violence that erupts as summer temperatures rise.

14. The Hate U Give (2018)

The Hate U Give (2018)
[Image description: Amandla Stenberg, playing Starr, hands raised in surrender] Via The Hate U Give
In this masterpiece film adaptation of the novel of the same name, after witnessing her childhood friend being murdered by a police officer, sixteen-year-old Starr, played by Amandla Stenberg is swept up in the national news coverage of the killing. Starr must decide if pursuing justice is worth destroying her carefully crafted image at her mostly-white prep school and having a police target on her back.

15. Whose Streets? (2017)

Whose Streets? (2017)
[Image description: Ferguson protestors standing with arms raised and megaphones] Via Whose Streets? 
This documentary follows the murder of Michael Brown and the Ferguson uprising. After Brown was killed by a police officer, Ferguson. Missouri was engulfed in protests and riots demanding justice. Documenting the protests this way, on camera, was intended to show what was really going on as print journalism was lacking in their coverage as the events in Ferguson unfolded.

16. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
[Image description: A black man stares skeptically into the camera, surrounded by white men] Via I Am Not Your Negro
Inspired by James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, this film breaks down the history of racism in the United States by examining civil rights leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the documentary voices Baldwin’s personal thoughts on the American civil rights movement.

17. Freedom Writers (2007)

Freedom Writers (2007)
[Image description: A white teacher stands directing a classroom full of multiracial students] Via Freedom Writers
This drama film focuses on the lives of a highly diverse student body at the once prestigious Woodrow Wilson High School. Set two years after the Los Angeles riots, racial tensions are at an all-time high among rival gang members who attend the school. Freedom Writers outlines the racism and prejudice found among various ethnic minority groups.

18. Hidden Figures (2016)

Hidden Figures (2016)
[Image description: Taraji P. Henson, playing a black female NASA mathematician, stands in an office full of white men] Via Hidden Figures
Detailing the work life of the black women who worked at NASA during the Space Race, this film exposes the racial and gender segregation that dominated the space agency. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monàe and Octavia Spencer, the Academy Award-nominated Hidden Figures describes the life and important work of three black female mathematicians who rose above their white male peers’ perceptions of them.

19. Just Mercy (2019)

Just Mercy (2019)
[Image description: Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx tensely sit in a courtroom] Via Just Mercy
Starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, this film follows the pro bono work of Bryan Stevenson, freshly graduated from Harvard law and determined to free Johnny D. McMillian, a death row inmate who was coerced by police into confessing to the murder of a white woman. The film outlines discrepancies in the legal system and how it upholds racial bias in murder cases.

20. Get Out (2017)

Get Out
[Image description: A conversation between two of the film’s characters in a forest] Via Get Out
Written and directed by Jordan Peele, this psychological thriller follows what happens when Chris Washington, played by Daniel Kaluuya, learns a horrifying secret about his white girlfriend and her family.

21. Zootopia (2016)

[Image description: Judy Hopp, a rookie police officer confronts fox Nick Wilde] Via Zootopia
Lastly, this animated film educates audiences on discrimination and racial profiling. Following a rookie cop on her dreams of serving and protecting, Zootopia shows how perpetuated prejudice feeds into a flawed justice system. A perfect movie to use when educating the little ones on racial inequality.

Do you have other suggestions? Let us know!

Health Care Mind Mental Health Health Love

How I’m taking care of my mental health as a Black woman

As a Black woman, I can tell you, dealing with racism has serious effects on our mental health. 

It happened suddenly. I was sitting in the backseat of my parents’ car when I started to feel trapped. At first, I tried to ignore the feeling but then I became increasingly aware that I felt like I couldn’t breathe. As I looked around at the closed car windows, the bags and jackets on the floor and my brothers sitting in front of me time seemed to slow down.

I didn’t know what to say or do and although I wanted someone to stop the car so I could jump out and gulp in the fresh air I decided against it. I moved in my seat, joked around with my brothers, and kept repeating in my head that I needed to calm down.

It was a bit later when we all returned home and I went to my mom to ask for prayer and guidance that she told me the weight of what is going on in the world had probably manifested in me feeling this way. I realized that she was right. I have been vocal on social media, watching news stories, and donating to bail funds.

During all of this, I never stopped to think about how it was affecting my mental health. Now, as the murder of George Floyd continues to be at the forefront of my mind I’m making sure taking care of myself is as well. 

Here are some things I’ve been doing to look after myself:

Take time off social media

No matter what is going on in the world I often find myself having to take breaks from social media. It can be as little as putting limits on my phone to keep my social media usage to one hour or as big as deleting an app altogether and never re-downloading it. Right now, I have to be especially careful with how much I interact online.

It becomes draining to continually see police officers abusing their power via protest videos or to go on Twitter and read comments from those trying to belittle the Black Lives Matter movement. Even though I don’t have a large number of followers online I feel an obligation to use my voice to spread awareness. Through all this, I have been making sure to log in and out of my personal accounts or take breaks for large amounts of time in order to find my bearings. 

Talk to people who understand and support you

Being surrounded by my family has been incredibly helpful during this time. We can have candid conversations about what is going on and also be there to lift each other up. Outside of talking to my family, texting and calling my friends has also helped me through. Each day you get a reminder that there are people in this country who hate you for something you can’t change. This is why turning to people who understand and support you is vital. 

Find moments of joy with television

When the news and posts on social media become too much I find myself turning to television. Luckily, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ are there to get me through. Recently I have found comfort in re-watching comedies like “New Girl” or teen dramas like “Legacies”. Anything that’s lighthearted or allows me to escape is the perfect television show at the moment. 

Listen to music

Music is the ultimate form of self-care. When things in life become hard or overwhelming I can put in my headphones and dance around my room until things seem brighter. Right now listening to music has been a lifesaver. When my thoughts become too loud I can drown them out with some of my favorite tunes. 

Help how you can

In the midst of what’s happening in the world, I have found it nearly impossible to stay silent even when it becomes increasingly tiring to be engaged. If you are someone who gets restless being still or not feeling as though you’re making a change then do what you can to help. Donate to organizations, talk about what’s going on with your friends, and use the platforms available to you to spread awareness.

For Black people, dealing with racism is nothing new.

This is why it has become easier to compartmentalize and let things roll off our backs. In order for us to continue the fight for equality, we also need to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves first.