We got together as a team to share our favorite content we read in 2015 from outside the world of Blavity. It’s been quite the year, and these are quite the pieces. Check out what we came up with, enjoy the incredible work, and tell us your favorites on Twitter and Facebook using #BlavityPicks2015. Here’s to being unshakeable with our voices and more visible with our stories in 2016.

The Myth of Black on Black Violence” from The Root by Natalie Hopkinson

Hopkinson takes a term that has been used against black people for years and attacks some of the underlying issues of media influenced “color-coded death” propaganda. The article discusses the difference in coverage for “black-on-black” deaths and how the media turns fallible data into opinionated racial injustice. From start to finish the article does what great writing should — affects the way you view the subject matter you come in contact with on a daily basis. – @kaye_creates

“Oh, girl, get up. You got this”: Why the “strong black woman” stereotype is an albatross from Salon  by Tamara Winfrey-Harris 

This describes the very feeling that many black women have been carrying with them for most, if not all, of their lives. I have felt and lived it. Although we appear and believe ourselves to be “strong” in every sense of the word, we are also criticized for showing any signs of breakdown or vulnerability. Who cares for the ones who dedicate themselves to carrying the burdens of everyone else? This article points out that it is ok to not be ok all the time. Black women hurt, cry and feel overburdened often, which leads to mental illness and a variety of related stressors. This article is a firm, yet gentle, reminder that our feelings of being overwhelmed should not be discounted. – @unapologetic_us

The Boy Who Loved Transit” from Harper’s (via Longreads) by Jeff Tietz

An incredible account of Darius McCollum, an autistic New Yorker known for his encyclopedic knowledge of the NYC subway system and his run-ins with the law.This piece takes all of the nuance usually reserved for the privileged and applies it to a differently-abled black man, giving readers a protagonist they didn’t know they were missing. The telling of this story allows Darius some of his agency back, as readers follow him from his apartment in Queens to piloting his beloved subways, to finally standing before a judge. The painstaking attention to detail Darius shows to his obsession only underlines the sadder parts of this story — especially the ways in which the criminal justice system overlooks environmental and mental health stressors in favor of putting people of color into the system. – @effyeahcamille

9 Black Soul Singers That Move Us More Than Adele Ever Could from Water Cooler Convos by Daren W. Jackson 

Jackson only says what most of Black Twitter is either thinking or has alluded to. The double standard in the music industry regarding black soul and so-called blue-eyed soul strips originators of their fruits and leaves them with their underappreciated labor. What is so absolutely thorough about this piece is that it transcends generation and point of (celebrity) origin. Although Luther might be considered “old school,” he can still reside in the same list as baby Jazmine Sullivan, proving that our slayage as a people has been being appropriated and profited from for a long, long time. Adele might see herself as more of an appreciator than an appropriator, but Nielson SoundScan won’t allow her to deny that she is a profiteer of soul. – @IAMdomjones

Top mass murders of 2015 by Abagond 

After the attacks in Paris, many people publicly mourned the lives lost and condemned the terrorists involved but failed to realize that on a global scale the attacks did not even rank in the top ten mass murders committed globally in 2015. His painstaking research proved what many people of color already suspect: when victims are white, cis, straight, wealthy, male, and/or Christian, their lives matter in public spaces. I appreciated his post because it helped me fully articulate how I felt when people overreacted to the attacks in Paris and how the reactions validate the white gaze found in most media spaces. Abagond efficiently used numbers to demonstrate exactly why diverse voices in media are vitally important. – Cassandra 

Black Girls Don’t Get To Be Depressed from Cosmopolitan by Samantha Irby 

This headline swung a lasso around my emotional curiosity, and I felt a bolt of lightening shoot through me as I read about my life in some Cosmo article. Within days, others began writing about black women and depression and referencing this piece. Irby’s article sparked much-needed discussions, and I think it will be instrumental in spreading awareness. I’m guessing she just needed to vent and Cosmo gave her a platform.  @zurisupreme

Don’t Be a Fuckboy — Just Don’t…The Ten Whack Commandments from Those People  by Joel Leon

Have you ever been having an innocent text conversation, just trying to get to know someone, when out of nowhere there’s a d*ck pic staring at you? This has happened to me too many times in the last year alone…and with Tinder ablaze, I know I’m not the only one. Joel Leon succinctly writes the guidelines for navigating in a world of guys who’ve yet to learn to fully respect women, providing tips for swiftly recognizing a f*ckboy and showing guys how they can do better. – @Sam_Antrum

Rewriting history won’t save the NYPD from Mashable by Jamil Smith 

The Mike Brown case was my “enough is enough” moment in regards to the perceived value of black Americans in the country. By the time the video of Eric Garner’s death hit the internet I was disgusted and upset. When I first read this article, I thought the idea that the NYPD would go so far as to editing Wikipedia articles to justify Eric Garner’s murder was comical and utterly ridiculous. This piece affirmed my beliefs that we can NOT let others control our messages and that we, as black Americans, must write our OWN history. – @iamkeenarenee

Love In The Age Of Big Data” from The Huffington Post by Eve Fairbanks 

I’ve always had this insatiable curiosity about love; its power and control, the effect it has on the brain and most importantly why I believe that deep, unconditional, investigative love is the only weapon we have that can avert the current decline in humanity. I find this article important and necessary, especially for this generation, because society is constantly changing, whether it be for the better or worse. We are constantly evolving and this article speaks our language. Love is one of those things that you’re either obsessed with or completely afraid of and the Gottman’s have figured out a way to, essentially, remove the guesswork from falling in love. – @devonnieblack

FBI Informant Exposes Sting Operation Targeting Innocent Americans in New “(T)ERROR” Documentary from Democracy Now by Amy Goodman 

A torrent of recent events and a lack of indictments on behalf of the U.S. government following the deaths of many black Americans at the hands of those sworn to “protect and serve” calls into question the way in which we define the term “criminal.” Who has the power to define and exercise the law to its fullest extent? This chilling but candid interview with two independent filmmakers unearthed the truth about the FBI’s counterterrorism sting operations and investigated how Americans are targeted beyond the bullet. As someone directly affected by the epidemic of mass incarceration, this was powerful. – @dejanaetanye

Meet The Twenty-something Party Promoters Shaking Up The Concert Business from Buzzfeed News by Reggie Ugwu 

After living my hip-hop dream of seeing Kanye West and Jay-Z at a free Samsung sponsored SXSW concert last year, I was enamored to delve more into the large music scene in Austin, TX. It’s safe to say that when it comes to reigning music festivals in the south, SXSW is one of the biggest and comprehending how to find a way into this company and succeeding isn’t easy. ScoreMore business owners, Claire Bogle and Sascha Guttfreund, are a tale of breaking the rules and rewriting them when it comes to gaining the respect and clientele necessary to thrive in this cut-throat era of music and marketing. Between the artists that are highlighted, (Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Big Sean and Chance The Rapper, just to name a few) the featured millennial change-makers, and the Buzzfeed writer himself, (Reggie Ugwu) the article inspires me as it shows young folks are setting the pace and changing the game in their respective hustles to succeed in their chosen fields. – @kiaraaudrey

Islamophobia Will Never Be the New Black from Muslim Girl by Hallima Docmanov

On a scale of 1 to Stacy Dash, the trend of naming things “the new black” is up there on my list of pet-peeves, as this label is usually pegged from a place of privilege and dismissal of the harsh realities that actually come with being black in America. So when the Islamic Monthly decided to publish a piece earlier this year proclaiming “Islamophobia is the New Black,” I couldn’t help but break into a slow clap when I saw writer Hallima Docmanov slide an eloquent Jamie Foxx face-palm to this notion with her piece that pointed out why the article’s title and premise was problematic. Unpacking and discussing the intricacies of being #BlackAndMuslim is complex, and although I recognize the issues of the increasing climate of Islamophobia, I can’t get with our unique struggle as a race being dismissed or co-opted for the sake of bringing awareness to it. Thank you, Hallima, for breaking down why. – @ShahidaMuhammad

Being Black — but Not Too Black — in the Workplace from The Atlantic by Adia Harvey Wingfield

From the topic to the no-nonsense headline, this article grabbed me from the start. As a young black professional, it strikes me as a common struggle to move through corporate America. Albeit sure of yourself, those feelings don’t leave you, from the hiring process to the very end. Wanting to completely be yourself, as well as succeed in a space that was never made for you to even step into. Wanting to create the space for yourself that will never be created for you, but needing to do the work to even get to the point in your life where this is possible. All this because you know that those things more than likely can’t coincide are a sometimes bitter, horse-sized pill to swallow. This piece vividly illustrated the plethora of feelings that seem to be a blanket that covers the majority of us. Not only did it touch on the feelings that we sometimes wonder if we’re paranoid for feeling in the workplace, but it also included research. This was an important aspect to me because I love for things to make sense, and I love when people go the extra mile to make that happen. From the framework to the see-saw of emotions that have obviously been felt by the author, to the offer of well-thought-out solutions. I felt as though this was written with me in mind. – @thatsDaniforyou

Zola’s Story from Twitter by Azia King 

In 2015 we took the banner of #BlackLivesMatter to the front lines. We organized and rallied, laid down in the streets, consumed every headline, and took social media by storm — defending our right to exist. It has been a heavy year. So, when Zola took to Twitter and asked, “Y’all wanna hear a story about why me and this b**ch fell out?” we answered a collective, “Why yes, Zola… Yes, we would.” For several minutes and 150 tweets, we blithely scrolled through the #ratch adventures of two stripping, road-tripping, side-hustling girls on a mission. Not only did Zola’s story provide the gratuitous escapism we were all craving, it became one of this year’s most popular stories and established Twitter as a formidable medium for urban fiction. – @NaomiTeneAustin

This Poet Doesn’t Care If You’re Tired Of Hearing About Race from Huffington Post Black Voices by Zeba Blay 

The explosive first line immediately grabs your attention and provides the listener with historical context as to why we must continually speak about the racial caste system that operates in America. The poet Ashlee Haze’s most poingnant point comes towards the end of the piece where she clearly communicates the feeling and the frustation of blackness, using her voice, cracking in places but still powerful enough to say that though you may be tired of hearing about race, imagine how tiring it is to have to live with the fact of American racism. In a year where we have seen a non-indictment of Tamir Rice’s killer, the Daniel Holtzclaw mixed bag of justice, Eric Garner’s case still backlogged by the Department of Justice and several other police empowered miscarriages of justice for black Americans, this poem encapsulates the feelings of many of us. – @God_sgift_

Why An Asian-American Iron Fist Matters” from Nerds of Color by MC Nedelsky ft. Keith Chow

Marvel Entertainment is taking over the movie business with their comic book movies. This means they have a whole lotta sway in who and what makes it on screen. This has brought up legitimate questions about the lack of diversity in their movie universe. The latest issue takes form in the hero Iron Fist. Iron First is crucial because he represents the White Savior trope of old, but COULD become one of their best characters if he is updated as an Asian-American man. This article makes the perfect case for it and I was instantly sold due my attachment to old films that were inspired by the Kung Fu craze and the Blaxpoitation era. As a Black Nerd Girl™, I am 100% for other people of color becoming visible in the mediums that we all enjoy. – @IWriteAllDay_

40 Diverse People In Tech Who Made Big Moves In 2015” from TechCrunch by Megan Rose Dickey 

In the midst of the great diversity debate, these are the changemakers who are not concerned with bolstering diversity numbers, but in improving the status quo. These are my colleagues, my friends, and my mentors — a few I grew up with, worked for, or got acquainted with in the past year. It makes me proud to know that brown girls and boys have advocates in the tech industry who are paving the way for them to flourish and solve the world’s problems with diverse perspectives, because through technology our world evolves. – @lynmuldrow

Ta-Nehisi Coates Unpacks the Way Comics Have Conquered the World from Vulture by Abraham Riesman

Comics are relevant again in the mainstream, which excites me as a self-proclaimed Blerd. During this interview, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about why he, I, and so many other people of color fell in love with that medium of storytelling in the first place — the inherent sense of racial inclusion in the faces of our heroes. These next few years seem to be crucial in transplanting that same inclusion into the franchise films that have breathed new life into the comic book industry. As the journey for representation continues, both in comics and their cinematic counterparts, it feels like a necessary thing to emphasize this sentiment for diehards like myself and the casual fans who might find more of themselves in these stories than they previously thought existed. – @spikehobbsjr

Meet Thundercat, the Jazz-Fusion Genius Behind Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Butterfly’ from The Rolling Stone by Jeff Weiss

There’s nothing I hate more than underrated geniuses. At the height of all the praise for HTPAB, Rolling Stone’s Jeff Weiss caught onto Thundercat’s immeasurable talent and influence on the album, providing him with the highlight he deserves. The interview delves into Thundercat’s musical history, describes his relatioships with Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus, and provides us with the serependitity of how such great music was made. Thundercat drops major gems throughout this interview, making me rethink life, creativity and music. – @oreety

The Radical Vision of Toni Morrison from the New York Times by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah

I fall in love with how accessible Ghansahs’ profiles make our most celebrated artists and icons. Reading this piece felt like being at the kitchen table with these two great minds and it was just soulful — my favorite feeling to have when reading. – @storyscape

A Daughter’s Death” from The New Yorker by Jennifer Gonnerman 

This piece told a story that’s remarkable to me. It centers on Taylonn Murphy, the father of a young black girl that died due to gun violence. The piece gives an example of the work done by black people within their communities to deal with the issues that threaten people’s lives. It takes a lot of strength and wisdom to do the work that Taylonn does, so I’m glad this piece brought him to my attention. – @KenHicks_

The Issue With the Perceived “Whiteness” of Being An Alternative Black Girl from For Harriet by Inda Lauryn

This piece is one reflection of what the #BlackLivesMatter movement means to me — that ALL our lives matter and we each have a unique life and interests. There are different ways to be black than what the media feeds us. As a black girl who was often told the things I wore or liked were “white,” and sometimes feeling unaccepted by a community I’m fighting for, I definitely personally identify with the piece. But I think other groups with different lifestyles should write pieces like this as well, showing their humanity and passion for their blackness, so that these divisions within our community can be closer to healing. – @meatprintmami

The Academy is Poised to Strike Down A Generation of Black Feminists One Beyonce Class At A Time from Huffington Post Black Voices by Omiseeke Tinsley

I mean… #BeyHive all day. This article perfectly discussed the intersection of popular culture, academia, race and gender politics. It succinctly gave readers a glmipse as to why black womanhood is so controversial on many fronts — because we’re lit af. It spoke to my intellectual, artistic and political self and beautifully summed up my struggle/embrace of black womanhood throughout 2015. – @Maestro__

Call in Black [Video] from For Harriet featuring @Eveeeeezy

It’s been a tough year and there were many times that I woke up feeling like… nah I’m not feeling like dealing with people today. This video did a great job of capturing the shared thoughts that many of us had while negotiating with ourselves about interacting in our PWIs. –@Morgandebaun

Dr. Umar, The Conscious Black Community (CBC), and Sex from Jujumama Blog by Rakhem Seku

An alternative perspective of Dr. Umar Johnson’s alleged relationship with a stripper. –@thebeautykween

I Ate White People’s Collard Greens and It Tasted Like Oppression” from Truly Tafakari by Dara Tafakari

Personal (and funny) narratives really resonsate with me, primarily because that is the type of content I aim to write. This piece is endearing, relable and flat-out hilarious. And we’ve all been to or walked by that soul food restaurant that looked questionable: our ancestors would not be pleased. – @jumpedforjoi

The Problem We All Live With from NPR by Nikole Hannah-Jones

The storytelling of this piece was captivating and completely pulled me in. The reporting was thorough, the framing fair and the reality of the situation was served up in a way that tugged fiercely on my heart. – @cccchristine21

Why So Many Minority Millennials Can’t Get Ahead from The Atlantic by Mel Jones 

Mel Jones perfectly captured my colliegate experience. She seamlessly weaved anecdotes, data, and the truth of adulting for many of us without a safety net. I couldn’t look away. – @jon__jackson

It’s Time For Me to Move On from XONecole by Necole Kane

That moment when you wake up and realize you want to be more than what everyone else expects you to be. Necole’s final submission as a celebrity gossip blogger encapsulates the sentiments of anyone who has ever wanted to step out on faith, quickly realizing you are your only roadblock on the road less traveled. Necole’s transparency and vulnerability not only elevated her own career, but gave so many other young innovators the confirmation that it is absolutely okay to want more for yourself. Her courageous story transformed into a brand wrapped in fearlessness, creating a platform for free self-expression. – @sheistyler

What stories did you love? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter or leave us a link in the comments below!