5 Trailblazing Black Women You Should Know About

By: Raven Gillus

Black History month is here! This is a time to recognize black people and black culture in all its glory. It’s important to remind ourselves of those who have made great accomplishments in history, broken barriers and pushed for the advancement of black people. We often focus on black male leaders such as, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X during this time, but there are many black women in history who have also made amazing achievements and deserve their flowers just as much, and we wanted to do just that. 

 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe is known as the Godmother of Rock & Roll. She was inducted in the rock and roll hall of fame in 2018. As a black lesbian woman in the 1940s she blended gospel lyrics with New Orleans jazz and rock arrangements, which was especially innovative for her time. 

 

Tharpe influenced many artists such as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. In an interview with Yahoo Music, Lizzo’s guitarist said,“Rock ‘n’ roll really is a black woman. The genre is a black woman personified.”She has often been overlooked within music history. Undoubtedly, she has paved the way for many black female artists. 

 

Judge and Lawyer, Jane Bolin, achieved many firsts in her life. Bolin became the first African American woman to graduate from Yale Law School, in 1931. She was the first African American woman to serve as assistant corporate counsel for New York City. Also, Bolin became the first African American female judge in the United States, in 1939. 

 

She served on the domestic relations court, now family court, in New York for 40 years. Those many firsts came with many challenges. She often faced overt racism in her time. However, she did not let that stop her. She continued to do amazing work in law for the black community and many other communities.

 

Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting rights and women’s rights activist. Hamer experienced violent harassment by police and white supremacists when she registered and exercised her right to vote. Hamer suffered permanent physical damage to her kidney because of the attack. 

 

In 1961, during a surgery to remove a tumor, Hamer was given a hysterectomy without consent by a white doctor when she was just 44 years old. She endured many hardships, but still dedicated her life to championing for others.

 

Hamer co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP).In 1971, Hamer co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus. She pushed the importance of women using their agency in the political structure by acting as a voting majority in the country regardless of race or ethnicity.

 

Hamer said, "A white mother is no different from a black mother. The only thing is they haven't had as many problems. But we cry the same tears."

Althea Gibson was the first great African American tennis player and professional golfer. Tennis was a white dominated and segregated sport at the time. After many challenges, Gibson eventually was allowed to play in major tournaments and became the first black player to win Wimbledon and the French and U.S. Open titles. 

 

Also, she became the first African American on the women’s pro golf tour in the 1960s. In 1971, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971. 

 

Ursula Burns is the current chairman and CEO of VEON and the former CEO of Xerox. Burns is the first African American woman to serve as a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Also, she is the first woman to succeed another woman in such a company. This year, she donated $1 million to TheHistoryMakers, which is an oral history archival of African Americans. 

 

We encourage you to do more research on each of these women and dive deeper into their lives and contributions. Let’s continue to celebrate Black History! 

Meghan Markle: Life As A Royal

By: Raven Gillus

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, shocked us all when they made the unexpected announcement to depart from the royal family earlier this month. Since they went public with their relationship in 2016, Meghan Markle has faced harsh criticism from the British tabloids. In an ITV documentary, Harry & Meghan: An African Journey she said, “I never thought it would be easy, but I did think it would be fair.”

 

Meghan added, “But when people are saying things that are just untrue and they are being told they’re untrue but they’re allowed to still say them – That’s different from just scrutiny. It’s a really different beast, you know.” Often the reason for the harsh coverage seems to be revolved around the subject of her identity. The glorification of famous figures exacerbates this reality. 

 

There are a few things about Meghan that are unconventional to royal traditions. She is American, a divorcee, and she is half black. As a bi-racial woman, she payed homage to her African American heritage at her wedding. Bishop Michael Bruce Curry, the first African American head of the Episcopal Church gave a powerful sermon at her wedding and the Kingdom Choir, a Christian gospel group from southeast London sang ‘Stand by Me’, which showcased her pride for her Black identity to the British monarchy.

 

Meghan doesn’t shy away from expressing her blackness, she has felt the harmful effects of racism throughout her time as a royal. The Dutchess of Sussex has seen scrutiny about cradling her baby bump from some news outlets, while Dutchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was celebrated for her bump throughout her pregnancy. Also, a British radio host was fired amid a tweet he posted comparing Prince Harry and Meghan’s baby to a Chimpanzee. 

 

Prince Harry is adamant about protecting his family from the tabloids. He said he is reminded of the negative treatment his mother, Princess Diana, received from the British tabloids and paparazzi through Meghan’s experience. 

 

The Duke and Dutchess of Sussex wrote a statement on Instagram earlier this month saying, “We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the royal family.”

 

They have chosen to split their time between the UK and Canada and intent to become financially independent. Queen Elizabeth II, responded, “We respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”

 

Ultimately, many more black and biracial women experience racism every day. Those who believe Meghan’s race is not a major factor in the harsh judgment she has received are a part of the problem. We commend Meghan for her strength and her decision to put the well-being of her family first, along with the support of her husband.

Attain & Maintain New Years Resolutions

By: Raven Gillus

If you put a photo of Fiji on your vision board, but have yet to see a palm tree or want to get in shape, but haven’t done a squat in months… let’s have a chat. Ladies, we are goal getters. That means we make goals and maintain them. We’re going to give you specific solutions to help you stick with your resolutions all year long.

 

Get a Better Body

 

Setting a goal weight or a weight loss number is a good thing to do on a fitness journey. It can also be very daunting. Don’t hurt yourself girl, remember this is about your overall fitness. We don’t want you ladies to only hit that weight goal. A fit and healthy lifestyle is key to maintaining your weight for a long period of time. 

 

Plan your workout schedule, so you can track your process. Setting reminders in your phone can help you to not forget. Give yourself rewards and consequences depending on how well you stick to your regimen. Use health apps like “Fooducate”, which allows you to take note of your nutritional intake. 

 

Cut Off “Toxic” Relationships

 

It’s a common resolution to dissolve relationships that aren’t serving you in any way. However, you don’t have to wait for the new year. Let that negativity go when it needs to go. Make a pro’s and con’s list to aid you in deciding what can stay and what cannot. 

 

When letting go off negative relationships, nourish healthy relationships that deserve your attention, too. Network and build friendships with people who bring positivity into your life. Another thing to consider is exploring the energy you have internalized from that/those relationship(s) and begin to the energy you want to present.

 

Financial Gains

 

We often want to have more money, but fail to have a proper plan to do so. You may want to travel, buy a new car, upgrade your lifestyle, or just stack your savings this year. This is achievable through better spending and saving habits.

 

Stick to a budgeting plan that works for you to get to where you want to be. Along with a stable plan, try savings challenges, i.e. the $5 savings challenge, where you tuck away every $5 bill you receive. Use a banking app to transfer a recurring reasonable amount from your checking’s to your savings account every month.

 

If you need further help with finances, we can fix that! For more information about financial advising, go to https://www.tamanilyn.com/lynfinancialadvisingco.

Women's Holiday Safety Tips

By: Raven Gillus

The holiday season is a time for family, joy and giving. Unfortunately, it’s also a time where safety concerns heighten, especially for women. Let’s be real, women have to take various safety precautions when going out on a regular basis. During the holidays, women are more vulnerable to thefts and other crimes. Ladies, we want you to stay safe and stay in the spirit of the holidays.

 

Holiday shopping

  • Dress down – thieves will target those who they believe have valuable items.

  • Walk with your head up. Avoid looking down at your phone to be aware of your surroundings.

  • Hold your purse close to you. Strap your purse to your shopping cart with a carabiner clip to prevent someone from stealing it.

 

Safety in your car

  • Have your keys in your hand before you get to your car. You do not want to spend vulnerable time trying to find your keys in the bottomless pit of your purse.

  • As soon as you get in the car lock your doors

  • Don’t sit in your car after you have just gotten in it. Leave from your parking space as soon as possible.

 

Preventing break ins

  • If you are away on vacation during the holidays, have someone you trust check on your home while you are away.

  • Don’t share on social media when you’re leaving your home to go on vacation in real time. Wait until you are back home.

 

Stay safe ladies and happy holidays!

Health & Wellness in College

By: Raven Gillus

College can be a lot of stress on the body. Most students don’t keep up with a healthy lifestyle in school. In fact, many things can affect your health and wellness as a busy college student. According to the American College Health Association, a study revealed that only 7.3% of students ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Let’s talk about some things that you can add to your life to improve your health. Your body will thank you later.

Add vitamin C to your diet

Winter is coming, which means a dreadful time is approaching... finals week. Flu Season is also among us. This can be a hard time on the mind and the body’s immune system. Your body is working extra hard to fight off those nasty germs during this time of the year. In classrooms, you are constantly exposed to germs throughout the day. Add more vitamin C to your diet by drinking orange juice in the morning, add lemon to your tea, and eating a salad with spinach instead of lettuce.

Make your own meal once a day

Avoid eating high calorie foods that aren’t good for you by making your own meals. Ramen noodles are the go-to quick fix for students with busy schedules, but they are high in sodium and don’t always fill you up. Prepare yogurt with granola, oatmeal or a fruit bowl instead.

 

Exercise

Often, we neglect exercise due to being too busy. It’s so important to incorporate exercise with a healthy diet to see results. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do some simple exercises in your room during free time. Squats, push-ups and pull-ups can easily increase the number as you go along throughout the week.

Quick Q&A:
Q1: I feel so tired all the time. How can I feel more rested?


A1: Try to get on a sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible. This may be hard don’t skip breakfast, it will boost your energy at the start of the day.


Q2: I am in need of some “me” time, but I never have time to myself.


A2: Schedule a set time for self-care as if it is a class or a job (e.g. Sundays from 7pm-9pm) Work your schedule around that time, so you get into the habit of always making time for yourself.


Q3: My hair and skin feels so much drier, especially around fall/winter time. How can I fix this?

A3: Bring a bottle of water to drink in every class to keep hydrated.

Back To School, Back To You

By: Raven Gillus

In the words of Megan Thee Stallion “Hot Girl Summer is winding down, but Hot Girl Semester has arrived!” The journey to getting that degree can be a struggle. While trying to balance a social life, academics, and self-care, one seems to always suffer. Don’t stress because these tips can greatly help those in need of some advice on achieving their goals this semester and beyond.

Self-care

  • Take 15 minute breaks every couple hours, between doing school work.

  • Join an extra-curricular activity that you enjoy to let off some steam.

  • Especially when you have early morning classes, get everything prepared for class the night before so you are ready and do not forget anything. 

 

School Life

  • Have a planner to use consistently. Write important dates ahead of time. (ex. Projects, Midterms, Exams.)

  • Take clear notes as much as possible.

  • Sit in the front row in all of your classes. It will help you pay attention and get your professors to remember your face.

Social Life

  • Plan a couple days throughout the week to dedicate time to your loved ones.

  • Dedicate some time in the morning and/or night to speak with your friends if you are really busy during the day.

  • Have a study session with some friends to get some work done, then get together after to grab a bite to eat and chat.

 

To keep up with the important things we value; we must prioritize them accordingly. Fitting a couple of these tips into your life this semester can help you maintain a healthy balance in all three areas of your life.

Women in Hip Hop 

By: Raven Gillus

Women have always been in Hip Hop, we just aren’t always included in the conversation. With the rise of women empowerment movements, the emergence of more female rappers in recent years is challenging an industry that has been heavily male dominated. Here are some women who are currently expanding the face of Hip Hop in 2019. 

Tierra Whack


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native Tierra Whack is greatly applauded for her incredible talent in freestyling and creative music videos. ​Briana Younger, a writer for ​The Fader​, said, "...popular and mainstream rap hasn't championed a darker-skinned woman since Missy Elliot...and Whack seems poised to be the one."​It’s important for young black women to see someone as talented as Whack represented in the music world. Whack often references very random concepts and ideas that fit together in an intentional masterful way. Whack told crackmagazine.com, “I’m up and down all the time, trying to catch a vibe. I write about things I go through, my friends, people I don’t know, people I do not like. Life, death everything.” As a kid, Whack was influenced by Dr. Seuss books to help her put together rhymes for her poetry assignments in school. On May 30, 2018, she released her first studio album, “Whack World,” which was named “Best New Music” from pitchfork.com. She is a part of the 12 edition XXL “Freshman Class.” Also, Whack is one out of three women, the most women ever featured in XXL “Freshman Class.” 

Rico Nasty


Lakin Starling said in a review on pitchfork.com, “She remains one of the heaviest hitters in the no-rules arena of rap.” New York City born, Nasty was raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland where she originated her career in rap music. She has an eclectic, bubbly, punk style that culminates a genre of her own she coined called, “Sugar Trap.” Nasty expressed a bold, hard-hitting delivery over fun cartoony music. By 20 years old, her music was featured on ‘Insecure’ and ‘The Fate of the Furious’.​She is a part of the 2019 XXL “Freshman Class.” ​She is putting on for young women and mothers in hip hop music, where it is so male dominated and women have to work twice as hard. Rico Nasty says how motherhood has influenced her in Washington Post, “​I had my child straight out of high school and it grew me up, and it made me see that life is amazing, but that there’s a dark twist to everything, too — from nursery rhymes to the stories we tell them. That’s why I call my music ‘sugar trap.’ It’s trap music, but there’s still happiness in there.” 

Lizzo


Born in Detroit, Michigan, Lizzo moved to Houston, Texas when she was 10 years old, where she began rapping. She later graduated with a degree in Classical Flute Performance from the University of Houston before moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota. With the influences of the many places she has lived she has been influenced by indie, hip-hop, classical, soul, electro and R&B music. This multifaceted queen shows us through example that it pays to be yourself. She makes music that is about accepting yourself for who you are and not letting anyone tear you down. Lizzo gives us a lesson in self lovery with her 2017 single, “Truth Hurts.” The single hit number five on the Billboard Hot 100. She started to hit the mainstream with the release of her third studio album, “Cuz I Love You,” in 2019. ​In an interview with ​Vice​, she said that, “you can wake up and change many things about your appearance, but the inevitability of waking up in your skin is what unifies us.” 

Megan Thee Stallion


The Houston, Texas born and raised rapper, Megan Thee Stallion, is known for her authenticity, confidence and sexually explicit lyrics. She makes all of her fans, “Hotties,” feel confident and freely express their sexuality with songs like “Big Ole Freak.” Listening to her influences growing up, such as Three 6 Mafia, Pimp C, and Biggie Smalls, she thought it would be even better if a woman rapped like them. She got an ear for music early as she sat in on her mothers’, Holly aka Holly-Wood, recording sessions at a child. When Megan got to college at Prairie View A&M University she began to rap. Her success and social media following continued to grow. On May 17, 2019, “Fever,” Megan’s first full length project was released. She makes in a point to empower women and their bodies by embracing the term “stallion,” as her name, which is used to describe a tall, beautiful woman in the South. Also, she is included in the 12t​h​ edition of XXL’s “Freshman Class”. While, Megan is climbing to new heights in her rap career, she is pursuing a degree in Health Administration at Texas Southern University. In an interview with Rolling Stone she said, “We have so many legends and so many greats. But I don’t feel like we ever really had a female rapper from Houston or Texas shut that shit down.” With her recent successes, this ‘hot girl’ can definitely be the one to do that for her city. 

Dreezy

Born and raised in the Southside of Chicago, Dreezy climbed her way through her city’s rap scene in the early 2010s. She used fine arts as an escape from her home life. In 2014, she released a remix to Nicki Minaj’s “Chiraq.” ​She was named as the "Princess of Chicago Rap" by Noisey via ​Vice Magazine. ​Soon after, Dreezy signed to Interscope shortly, then released her debut, ​No Hard Feelings​, in 2016. Following some non-album singles, Dreezy dropped her sophomore album, ​Big Dreez​, in 2019, with features including Jeremih and Kash Doll to encourage her dynamic style of trap music. 

Rihanna: The Renaissance Woman 

By: Raven Gillus

Attention Rihanna Navy! According to Forbes, Rihanna has just been named the world’s richest female musician worth a reported $600 million. She has been very successful in the music industry and is one of the highest selling artist of all time. As Rihanna fans, we first fell in love with her eccentric, edgy music. However, she has been dominating other industries, giving us fashion and make up for us to style and profile in. She is continuing to expand her growing Fenty Empire.

In 2014, Rihanna teamed up with Puma to create “Fenty x Puma”, an apparel and footwear line. She released her first sneaker with Puma as the creative director of Puma sports and footwear brand a year later. Within hours of the launch it sold out. She continued to collaborate with the brand over the years. Also, she created her own lingerie line, “Savage x Fenty”. The line includes bra sizes from 32A to 44DD and underwear sizes from XS to XXXL.

One thing Rihanna does a great job of is knowing her audience and what they want. She keeps her ear in the streets. Many make up lines rarely seemed to cater to darker skin tones. She knew, darker skinned women especially, had a hard time finding makeup that suited their skin tones. Rihanna also knew that most of these women were her fans, so she did something about it. In September 2017, Fenty Beauty launched and was the first make up line to create 40 foundation shades to cater to women of varying skin tones and promote inclusivity. Soon more make up lines began to follow, expanding their shade range. A true trendsetter.

In May 2019, Rihanna launched her own a luxury clothing line, “Fenty”. It’s full of gender inclusive and bold statement pieces, with sizes ranging from 2 to 14. Rihanna became the first woman to launch an original LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton brand and the first black woman and woman of color to run a major luxury fashion house. With this big accomplishment, we’re able to see that there is opportunity for black businesses to reach such highest.

Rihanna has shown us that she is more than music. She stays true to her style while expanding her brand, showing us the importance of collaboration, and empowering women of color. We cannot wait to see what other business ventures she will do next! In the meantime, we’ll have on our Fenty outfit, with our Fenty lipgloss, with Anti on repeat patiently waiting for the next album to drop.

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