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ZORA
Unapologetic. Ours. A publication from Medium for Black women.

Black Women

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Ethel’s Club Founder Naj Austin delivers critical tips and reminders

Last year, after just four months of opening Ethel’s Club, a social group and safe space invented for people of color, founder Naj Austin had to make a hard pivot from IRL to virtual fellowship amid a global pandemic. A heavy undertaking given the circumstances and uncertainty of the world. But Austin was game for the unforeseen challenges and refocused to build a path forward that is all about “creating a digital space that speaks to people in a way where they gravitate toward it.”

In Active Voice, writer Brianna Holt’s new interview series for GEN, where Holt catches up…


A selfie of Amerie with a bookshelf behind her.
A selfie of Amerie with a bookshelf behind her.
Photo courtesy of Amerie.

Amerie isn’t afraid to follow her passions. While many know her for her beautiful voice, the Grammy-nominated singer is also making waves in the publishing world. She’s released a New York Times bestseller, Because You Love to Hate Me, and launched her own book club and popular YouTube channel. In 2018, she gave birth to her son, River, and she’s still in the studio getting ready to put out some new music!

Amerie can (and will!) do it all.

I’m unapologetic about being a woman who speaks her mind. And one who has never been willing to play someone else’s…


It’s okay if your edges aren’t laid.

Black woman covering face with a hand, standing in a field of tall grass.
Black woman covering face with a hand, standing in a field of tall grass.
Photo: Ricaldo Donaldson/Pexels

When I was a small child, I spent every morning on the floor watching cartoons while my momma secured my hair in tight braids wound with hard plastic bobos and fastened with butterfly-shaped barrettes. All of my outfits were perfectly color-coordinated and pressed free of any wrinkles. I was explicitly told not to let anyone touch my hair and was repeatedly implored to stop picking up rocks and stuffing them in my pockets.

Presentability was instilled in me from an early age. All the women in my family know how to dress, and I was taught to take a lot…


Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Artist Carrie Mae Weems at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York in 2016. Photo: Photo: Stephanie Diani/The New York Times/Redux

“The first time I picked up that camera, I thought, ‘Oh, okay. This is my tool. This is it.’” — Carrie Mae Weems

Carrie Mae Weems is widely considered to be one of the most influential contemporary artists of recent history. While she is best known for her photography, Weems also works in text, fabric, audio, digital images, and installation video. She’s a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship (or “Genius Grant”), the first Black woman to have a retrospective at the Guggenheim and has even been cited as an influence for Beyonce’s “Lemonade” visuals.

Weem’s work primarily features Black subjects…


Good advice for women from women

Black man and woman posing together in front of a maroon background.
Black man and woman posing together in front of a maroon background.
Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

It’s been a bad week for Black love. Just a few days after learning that the love between rappers Saweetie and Quavo turned very icy (pun most definitely intended), car-seat relationship guru Derrick Jaxn revealed that he had been unfaithful to his wife, Da’Naia (and that he was selling a new book).

The internets immediately went into an uproar about everything from Jaxn’s audacity and betrayal of trust to his wife’s bonnet and checked-out demeanor in their confession video. It’s understandable why people are so outraged. This is a man who has built his entire career coaching women (Black women…


The poet pens a book-length love letter to Black girls and women on our journey of discovery and healing

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Redens Desrosiers

Spoken word artist and poet Jasmine Mans’ latest poetry collection, Black Girl, Call Home, is an invitation inside all the bitter and sweet moments that exist between the space of being a girl and being a woman. The crick in your neck after getting your hair washed in the kitchen sink. The sound of your colorful hair barrettes clacking against one another. The soggy feeling of your pillow after you’ve cried your eyes out after getting into it with your mother.

Some people might be familiar with the Newark, New Jersey, native’s work from her time as part of the…


Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Nikole Hannah-Jones, a staff w​riter and investigative journa​list for The New York Times Ma​gazine, a​t the Times building in Midtow​n Manhattan in 2016. Photo: Karsten Moran/Redux

Nikole Hannah-Jones is an award-winning investigative journalist known for her coverage of civil rights and racial injustice for the New York Times Magazine. Hannah-Jones also co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a training and mentorship organization dedicated to increasing the ranks of investigative reporters of color. In 2017, she was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship (colloquially known as the “Genius Grant”), and in 2020, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her work on “The 1619 Project.”

“I see my work as forcing us to confront our hypocrisy, forcing us to confront the truth we would rather ignore,” Jones…


How unconscious bias plays a pivotal role in therapy’s effectiveness

Photo: nappy/Pexels

Her office was always draped in heavy, dark curtains. The air was musty, perhaps because the emotional support dog frequently napped in the corner.

Where I come from, animals aren’t kept indoors, so the scent of wet dog clinging to the linens was new. The room, however, felt familiar. Maybe because it was filled with antiques, like British West Indian homes in the ’90s which were outfitted with Syrian rugs and Chinese porcelain figurines. Unfamiliar were the European-esque paintings, reminiscent of my therapist’s upbringing. …


Black woman looking up against a teal background.
Black woman looking up against a teal background.
Photo: Tony James-Andersson/Pexels

As much as I love being called a “strong Black woman,” it also makes me cringe because so much of our strength is defined by the struggles and hardships we face rather than how we find healing and enjoying our daily state of being.

The compliment can also cause severe anxiety and trigger the Superwoman Syndrome. According to Cheryl L. Woods-Giscombé, PhD, and her research, Superwoman Syndrome was born when Black women started denouncing society’s negative characterizations of Black women, such as “Jezebel” and “Welfare Queen,” in efforts to highlight the traits that go unnoticed. …


A photo of Miko Branch.
A photo of Miko Branch.
Miko Branch. Photos courtesy of Miss Jessie’s, LLC.

In 2000, Miko Branch and her sister, Titi, launched a natural hair care brand from their kitchen table in Brooklyn. They named their creamy concoctions for curls Miss Jessie’s Original, after their grandmother, a Southern Black matriarch who taught them all about hair care and family. More than 20 years later, Miss Jessie’s natural hair products are a staple in the regimens of many Black women around the globe. Even after the death of her sister, Miko Branch continues to carry the legacy of the family business and is helping millions of women own their beauty from the inside out.

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