Published in


Ambitious, and absolutely not sorry


There’s nothing new about women being criticized for being “too ambitious,” but every now and then there’s a story that deserves a fresh eye roll 🙄. Just take a look at the judgment and commentary around Kamala Harris last week, which reminded us of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s enduring words: “We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man.”

(Did a friend forward this email to you? Sign up here. 📩)

For women, particularly Black women and women of color, our ambition isn’t always appealing. Rather, it can be a demerit. I know this firsthand. Last year, an executive at a digital sports platform reached out to me to gauge my interest in joining his company. When I shared with him my career aims — to continue in leadership roles — the exec remarked, with a breathy chuckle, “Well, that’s very ambitious of you.” The words, and tone, stung. I later learned that the role he looked to put me in was too small for me — someone who gladly owns her ambition. Even when the men in my past have told me, in the most overt or covert ways, that my ambition can be intimidating.

Honestly, if someone has a problem with your ambition, that’s a clear sign of their insecurity.

Folks will be threatened by your big dreams, by how you move in the world, by the way in which you don’t settle for less. That’s on them — and never on you. The truth is, we will always be too much for a world that thinks too little of us. Even when it’s our ambition shaping this world for the better.

When we unabashedly own our gifts and our drive, folks want to knock us down by weaponizing our ambition. It’s their attempt to keep us in check. No one who calls us “too ambitious” has any right to check us. Instead, they need to check themselves.

Take care,

Christina M. Tapper, ZORA deputy editor

You may have heard the catchy “Not the Bayang” song by now. If not, have fun with it here. The song, created by 19-year-old Mississippi native Nyissa is prompting women, who had a bangs phase or two, to share throwback pics. We couldn’t let the moment pass us by.

📖 Booked and Busy 📖

This week, ZORA’s own senior editor Morgan Jerkins released her second collection of essays titled Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots. In the book, Morgan traces her family’s movements across America before, during and after the Great Migration. Writer Kaitlyn Greenidge spoke with Morgan about her travels and her book writing experience for ZORA. Congratulations, Morgan! 🎈

The Best of Us

News, art, and stories worth celebrating. All by or for WOC.

British Vogue’s September 2020 issue features women activists of color on the cover including Angela Davis, Brittney Packnett-Cunningham, Janet Mock, and more.

Did you catch all the visuals and symbolism in Beyonce’s new film for Disney+, Black Is King? ZORA contributor Gina Cherelus gives a refresher on all the music and magic.

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion have supplied summer IG captions after teaming up for the single“WAP.”

Speaking of Meg, she’s the covergirl for the 2020 Power of Young Hollywood issue of Variety AND she was named as Revlon’s new global brand ambassador. Hot Girl Summer is saved!

Danielle Brooks (of Orange Is The New Black fame) will star as gospel legend Mahalia Jackson in an upcoming biopic.

Singing duo Chloe x Halle are serving lewks in their new campaign for Fendi, #MeAndMyPeekaboo

Nia DaCosta will be the first Black woman to direct a Marvel Universe movie as she will helm Captain Marvel 2.

Congratulations to Cori Bush, who won a heated primary race to represent Missouri.

The SHINE self-care app is owned by women of color, so the voices that lead the meditations sound like us. It’s nice to be affirmed in every way possible.

Storm Reid offers great (and easy to follow!) advice on how to have a wonderful day in this IG self-care treat.

🗣️ The Last Word 🗣️

“Deal with yourself as an individual worthy of success and make everyone else deal with you the same way.”

— Nikki Giovanni

You’re subscribed to receive emails from ZORA. You can adjust your settings via the link at the bottom of this email.



A publication from Medium that centers the stories, poetry, essays and thoughts of women of color.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Christina M. Tapper

Rule breaker, champion of women and education, and recovering sports journalist.