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2017: Year of the Black Woman

2017: Year of the Black Woman

2017: Year of the Black Woman
Photo Credit: Laura Alston for Okayplayer
10 Of The Most Wisest Lines From Rapsody’s ‘Laila’s Wisdom’ Album
Photo Credit: Ginny Suss for Okayplayer

Rapsody: Conscious Cool

While some rappers vacillate between not giving a fuck about a goddamn Grammy and being mad they aren’t up for any, Rapsody just rolled up and won for being part of an ensemble cast of Kendrick Lamar’s “Best Rap Album” winner, To Pimp A Butterfly. This year, though, she’s stepped out into her own as she’s nominated for the same award for her own project, Laila’s Wisdom.

Filled with her own stellar blend of searing lyricism and emotive musicality, Rapsody has put in work after four mixtapes, three EPs and another full studio album. She absolutely deserves to compete with Migos, Jay-Z, Tyler, The Creator and her potna Kung-Fu Kenny for the Golden Gramophone. Rapsody is just more proof that women MCs don’t rhyme well “for a girl”.

The Clapbacks: Maxine Waters' Most Unapologetic Quotes During Trump's Presidency
Photo Credit: Paul Sancya for AP

Rep. Maxine Waters: The Voice of Reason

Now affectionately called “Muva” and “Auntie” Maxine, Representative Waters has been calling it like she sees it since she got to Congress in 1991. A leader of the resistance to America’s 45th president, she started the year off with a bang, unequivocally declaring her mission to impeach him. With singular focus, she has stayed the course—and become a pop culture celebrity along the way for her facial expressions, her fashion sense and the phrase that has become a mantra for black women everywhere thanks to the viral gospel remix by Mykal Kilgore: “Reclaiming my time.”

2017: Year of the Black Woman
Source: BET

Robin Thede: The New Face of Late Night

Personally, we’ve been waiting for a late night host to body roll in each episode—we just had no idea we’d get it in 2017. Enter Robin Thede: a former TV comedy writer turned frontwoman of The Rundown with Robin Thede. BET gave her a show where she can speak truth to power with razor sharp wit, wicked smoky side-eye and sketches about dating, colorism and reparations that only a sista can pull off.

2017: Year of the Black Woman
Source: Twitter

Roxane Gay: Truth Teller

This was the year a New York Times writer made headlines in the same paper where her byline resides. It was a repeat performance (her book Bad Feminist also made the New York Times best sellers list), but this time, it was for her deeply resonant memoir, Hunger. Called “luminous” and “profound,” Hunger tells her story of abuse, obesity, and her relationship to one’s own body. The book is as courageous as it is excellent. Oh, and alongside poet Yona Harvey, Gay makes the first time a pair of black women ever authored a series for Marvel Comics.

2017: Year of the Black Woman
Source: Twitter

Samantha Bailey: Live & Direct

Samantha Bailey, better known as Sam Bailey, is a powerful and dynamic guerilla filmmaker who bent the web to her will with her dream of representing women of color, who were queer, and best friends on screen—without a budget. The result is Brown Girls, a digital smash hit series that depicts LGBT women in ways that are relatable and authentic, with emotional complexity and raw humor at the center of the show. HBO took notice and gave her a development deal. Cut to: a move from Chicago to Hollywood for her next exciting chapter.

Serena Williams Makes Wimbledon History, Claiming 22nd Grand Slam Singles Title To Match Steffi Graf's Open Era Record.
Source: ESPN

Serena Williams: New Mother of All Athletes

While we know Serena Williams stopped giving energy to her legion of haters many, many Grand Slams ago (she’s up to 23). She leads by example as someone who, despite whatever pain it used to cause her, remains unphased by being denigrated just for being a black woman who is the best in the world at tennis.

This year, she stoked more ire just for serving up more greatness. Williams won the Australian Open, handily, while pregnant with the world’s first in-utero tennis champion, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr.. Then, she slayed in the wedding of the year, marrying the co-founder of Reddit, an internet mega-mogul, in a ceremony attend by ‘Yoncé!

She ain’t perform though… as New Edition was her musical guests of honor. Talk about living every “Candy Girl’s” dream!

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.
Photo Credit: Vickey Ford of Sneakshot for Okayplayer

SZA: The Soulful Spark

Ctrl by SZA is to 2017 what Control by Janet Jackson was to 1986. This month, the Chicago Sun-Times capped off an incredible year of acclaim by calling SZA’s debut studio release its “Album of the Year”. Topping a list of ten that includes Jay-Z, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Miguel, and her TDE labelmate, Kendrick Lamar. Given all the hits therein on Ctrl, we have every reason to believe she’s just warming up.

Taraji P. Henson Addresses Racism In Hollywood In New Memoir
Source: VIBE

Taraji P. Henson: Badass Sistafriend

Taraji P. Henson is unstoppable. The three-time Oscar nominated actress and best-selling author of Around The Way Girl: A Memoir (with biographer Denene Millner, another fierce black woman) sustained her trademark hotness all year long. It started in January with the wide release of Hidden Figures, where a rain-soaked, teary-eyed Katherine G. Johnson told a roomful of white male number crunching engineers off for underestimating her genius.

By summer’s end, Taraji was hosting Black Girls Rock! on BET, rocking a sick natural fade that turned her cheekbones, doe eyes and MAC Viva Glam endorsing lips into weapons of mass destruction on covers and red carpets. The woman who made Empire’s Cookie Lyon a household name closes out 2017 promoting her assassin-action-flick, Proud Mary. More Taraji is always a good thing.

2017: Year of the Black Woman
Source: Instagram

Tamika D. Mallory: The Liberator

Activist and founder of Mallory Consulting, Tamika D. Mallory is a woman on a mission. Her clarion calls for freedom from gun violence through policy change and intersectional justice via the Women’s March—which she co-chaired—confirms Mallory as a beacon of vigilance in the unapologetic tradition of foremothers Fannie Lou Hamer and Dr. Betty Shabazz.

2017: Year of the Black Woman
Source: Twitter

Tarana Burke: The Healer

2017 is, in fact, the #YearOfTheBlackWoman, and you know that because when a black woman is named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year,” it’s a wonderful time to be alive. Tarana Burke is that woman. She’s been in the trenches and the front lines fighting for survivors of sexual violence for over a decade. She created #MeToo in 2006 and the movement became a social media moment—not the other way around. Now that the #MeToo movement has global awareness, expect to hear more from Tarana on how we can mobilize to dismantle the systems that enable sexual harassment and assault.

2017: Year of the Black Woman
Source: Twitter

Taura Stinson: Lyrics To Go

Now, you might not have heard of Taura Stinson, but between the songs she’s written for Destiny’s Child, Deborah Cox and Raphael Saadiq, trust and believe you’ve heard her words and voice more times than you can count. She’s also the film lyricist behind numerous songs for projects including Men In Black, Beyond The Lights, Rio 2 and Black Nativity.

In 2017, all her labor in the studio earned her some serious hardware. She wrote the lyrics to Cynthia Erivo’s “Jump” from the documentary, Step: A Real Life Story, which chronicles a Baltimore girls step team. “Jump” is also in contention for an Oscar nod.

See Also

Meanwhile, Stinson’s composition, “Might River,” performed by Mary J. Blige, has already garnered a Golden Globe nomination for “Best Original Song”. Taura Stinson doesn’t just pen songs, she writes books too—as she self-published a must-have resource guide for girls like the ones in Step called 100 Things Every Black Girl Should Know.

2017: Year of the Black Woman
Source: Twitter

The Voting Black Women of Alabama: The 97%

Last year, black women who voted during the 2016 presidential elections did everything in their power to stop the raging trash fire that is the Donald J. Trump Administration. While they were unsuccessful in electing Secretary Hillary Clinton, the most qualified and experienced candidate in the presidential election, the sistas residing in Alabama were not discouraged when it came time to elect their senator.

Led by activists including Latosha Brown, an organizer for #BlackVotersMatter, and Faya Rose Toure, who mobilizes through Vote or Die, 97% of all black women voters in Alabama condemned accused serial pedophile Roy Moore. Despite 52% of white women with college degrees and 73% of non-college educated white women voting for Moore, black women saved the collective “Becky” from themselves, yet again, and kept Moore from adding to Trump’s swamp in Washington.

The efforts of black women organizers in Alabama staved off handing the GOP another win and helped the Democrats to earn a crucial victory ahead of the 2018 midterms. Doug Jones better remember what side his bread is buttered on.

Hint: It’s the toasted side.

2017: Year of the Black Woman
Source: Twitter

Yvonne Orji: Funny & Fine AF

You know Yvonne Orji as Molly, Issa Rae’s hot mess of a bestie on Insecure—the wingwoman who alternates as her conscience and her co-conspirator. What’s emerging is that Orji is much more than a talented actor: she’s a standup comic with the chops to open on Chris Rock’s Total Blackout tour and a red carpet slaying fashion influencer who rocks finery from the continents of Africa and Europe with ease. Getting here took a decade, and she had two degrees when she started her journey to kill it in Hollywood, but she used the major key of perseverance to kick open the door. Message!

Thembisa S. Mshaka is a business author. Chuck D of Public Enemy calls her book, Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your Entertainment Business, “the definitive industry bible.”

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