Within the past year, I like many others have been on edge about what the 45th administration will do next, and as a result have ended up completely engulfed in the craziness of politics. On the other hand, I'm constantly scrolling through my Twitter feed not just to monitor the KKK's next move, but for Queen Bey's next selfie debut, for #BlackTwitter's weekly family Sunday night #InsecureHBO reunion, or for the latest, greatest review of the current #1 film (Girl's Trip). And not only have I recently launched my own podcast along with two of my closest college confidantes (BareSoul Pod), but I am OBSESSED with about eight different podcasts right now. The Read, The Friend Zone, Black Girl Pod, On One with Angela Rye, Still Processing, and Insecuritea, just to name a few.
Each of these have one thing in common; strong, fearless, beautiful black women on a mission to positively impact the culture -- something I strive to do myself. I'll forever be a lover and supporter of black women, so I thought why not acknowledge the I currently admire and who consistently inspire me through this 20 something ride? Whether it's their raw work ethic, effortless bronzy glow, or ability to so classily check anyone remotely involved with 45, they persist.
Here are ten black women for us to look up to:
At just 26 years old, Sanders served as national press secretary for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, during the Bernie Sanders Presidential campaign in 2016. As a Democratic strategist and political commentator on CNN, she has remained far from silent since November 8th and continues to let 45 know that she is not here for any of his shenanigans. Yesterday on CNN, Sanders appeared opposite former Virginia Attorney General, Kenneth Cuccinneli. During a debate over 45's failure to acknowledge white supremacists as the white supremacists they are, Cuccinneli aggressively tells Sanders to shut up. As you can imagine, it didn't go over to well. But, she stood her ground like the boss she is and let Cuccinneli know his type of tone nor words will ever be tolerated in her presence. She consciously and consistently serves as a necessary millennial voice during this time of resistance. Reclaim your time, sis!
2. Angela Rye
Rye is a force to be reckoned with, daily, in her pursuit to resist this alternative fact administration. Raised by parents who remain dedicated to fighting for equal rights for African Americans, and the former Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rye has BEEN woke, but strives to ensure that the rest of us are fully woke as well. Her motto is #livewoke, because it's one thing to stay awake, but what are you doing while you're up? Rye recently launched her podcast On One with Angela Rye, which in just four episodes already boasts fabulous guests such as #QUEENMAXINE, Jesse Williams, veteran journalist April Ryan, and her civil rights fighting father, Eddie Rye, Jr. A proud "sophistiratchet", Rye is ultimately the whole package. What's not to love?
3. Issa Rae
If you haven't been watching InsecureHBO, what have you been doing? Created and directed by Rae, and based on her Youtube series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Insecure premiered last October. The first season deemed Insecure to be in my opinion one of the greatest shows ever. Why? The show is about a 20-something black woman, living her regular ass life. It's the mirror I didn't know I needed! She somehow has managed to encompass what I think is the entire black female experience. But not only has she grasped the art of relating to regular schmegular degular black girls, but also black males. The show premieres at 10:30 pm every Sunday on HBO. Join the Twitter fun!
4. Yvonne Orji
Orji is best known for playing Issa's best friend/side kick, Molly on Insecure. Although I love her character and can relate for more than one reason, she's made an impact on me mostly as Yvonne. A 34-year-old virgin (I know, right!), Orji is a woman of her word, and a woman who believes in upholding her personal standards. In a way that's more so inspiring rather than condescending, she lets black girls worldwide know that it's okay to stand planted in whatever it is you believe. Her Breakfast Club interview, as well as her TEDTalk were both AMAZING, and filled with endless gems.
I had the incredible honor and privilege to attend the Essence Festival in New Orleans this year -- best experience of my life! My absolute favorite panel was the #wokewomen panel, which included, Luvvie, Angela Rye, April Reign (known for coining the #oscarssowhite hashtag last year), and April Ryan. As a writer, English and anything pertaining to grammar have always been my strength, so I thoroughly admire anyone who flourishes in STEM, more specifically black women. The tech industry needs our genius, and Luvvie is unafraid to share hers as a digital strategist. She's also a NYT bestselling author as of September 2016. Her first book, I'M JUDGING YOU: The Do Better Manual is basically a book where she tells everyone to get their shit together. Her words, not mine. Visit her black and dope website here.
6. Scottie Beam
As I said before, Black Girl Podcast is currently one of my favorite podcasts. The podcast consists of five 20 something young black women who crossed paths working for the hip hop radio station giant, HOT 97. While I love them ALL, I felt compelled to shoutout Scottie because she has shown herself to be both fearless and faithful. In one of the most recent episodes, Scottie made the what seemed to be pretty tough decision to leave HOT 97, and pursue more of her personal dreams. That alone is commendable, because not only is it difficult to leave all you've ever known, but it's got to be just as difficult to share. As 20 somethings, we feel we should have it together at all times and want the world to believe that as well. But Scottie wasn't afraid to let us know she didn't but she also made her faith in her future known. If you are unhappy, do what you believe will change that. If you've been sitting on a dream, keep in mind God didn't just plant that dream in your heart just because.
Another amazing podcast I highly recommend for the culture is The Friend Zone. Once a week, Assante, Dustin and Fran discuss mental hygiene, 'cause "who in the hell wants a musty brain?" Francheska, also known as HeyFranHey, is the one woman out of the crew, and she is a breath of fresh air, literally. When she isn't recording the podcast, Fran travels and facilitates health and wellness retreats nation wide. What seems to now be kind of a redundant conversation, but still necessary is that black people, but more specifically black women don't typically like to talk about mental health. A YouTube blogger since 2009, Fran continues to build her repertoire as she spreads her knowledge on protecting your mental, physical and emotional health at all costs. (It's just a plus that her natural hair videos are impeccable). The Friend Zone's 2-year anniversary live show is in NYC, on August 19.
Girl's Trip is without question one of the best films of 2017. And for those of us who've seen it, let's be honest, what would it have been without Tiffany? Which is amazing to me, because she is an up and coming actress, unlike Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah and Regina Hall, who have been on screen for decades. She speaks her mind, is not afraid to be herself and we love her for it. Also a stand-up comedian, Haddish said in her recent Breakfast Club interview that the film kept 75% of her improvisation. At just eight years old, Haddish was left with no choice but to help raise her seven younger siblings. She grew up in an abusive household and was thrown from foster home to foster home. Despite her difficult upbringing, and having to grow up at 8 years old, her smile remains bigger than most. She is the epitome of resilience.
9. Cardi B
Before I get the side eye and the question " Is Cardi someone to look up to?" let me say "yes" and here's why. When I think of black girl magic, I think of the black woman's effortless ability to adapt. Our ability to be Phylicia Rashad on some days and Trina the next. We can be Oprah at a corporate event, and Beyonce when out with friends. We can address you as Michelle Obama would, or as NeNe Leakes...depending on who you are. There's Solange carefree black girl, and then there's Cardi B carefree black girl. She represents the carefree black girl we have to be in the mirror after that long day of work, that carefree black girl we have to be when we realize we're not making as much as our white male counterparts. She represents the carefree black girl we have to be for ourselves when someone such as Cuccinnelli dismisses and disrespects us on national television. She represents the carefree black girl we have to be for ourselves when we Instagram stalk in private like Issa, but have to act like everything is okay in public at the day party. She represents the confidence we have to act like we have when our insecurities seem to be getting the best of us. Cardi is that internal fire that burns to remind us that we are the baddest, most brilliant, and beautiful beings on this Earth.