This is an email from Keepin' It 💯, a newsletter by ZORA.
It’s a rallying cry, an expression adorned on merch, and a popular phrase tweeted, especially after elections: Thank Black women. The gratitude is warranted, but insufficient. We save democracy at the polls, clean up messes at work, and move the culture in every corner of the world. I’m talking about the breadth of Black women who are doctors, grocery store clerks, teachers, grassroots activists, and poets. The Stacey Abramses, Nse Ufots, and LaTosha Browns in our communities. The mothers and caretakers. And all the Black women in between who hold this country together.
We do the damn thing, and are worthy of far more than a hat tip. It is not, after all, our job to repeatedly shoulder burdens and be saviors for this country. We ain’t trying to be America’s safety net. Yet, here we are, putting in the work in hopes that our votes, our decisions, and our moves will liberate us — thus freedom for all. As the Combahee River Collective statement tells us, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.”
So these pithy statements of thanks? They come off as performative and passive salutes. Black women are deserving of praise that translates into actionable measures to improve our material lives. Thank Black women is not a strategy for change. Policy is.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley agrees. This week, she tweeted: “You want to thank Black women? Cancel student debt — all of it. Black women carry more student debt than any other group in America. Save your words of appreciation. Policy is our love language.”
And while it’s great to see Black women represented in President Joe Biden’s cabinet, including our newly elected Vice President Kamala Harris, Marcia Fudge, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, more needs to be done. Lawmakers can thank Black women, who mobilized to seat them and flip the senate, through policies that combat Covid-19, bolster the next stimulus package, close the wage gap, ensure access to low cost childcare, make health care affordable and equitable for all, dismantle the prison industrial complex and invest in transformative justice. That’s just a sample.
Elsewhere, folks can show gratitude by hiring, promoting, advocating for, and funding Black women. (Also stop treating us as a threat in the workplace.) As we continue to move the culture with our innovations and creativity, folks can show their respect by giving us the credit and the coins.
We’ve had this country’s back even when it hasn’t had ours. We deserve more than a thank you.
Christina M. Tapper, deputy editor
Zero to 💯
Who kept it 100 this week? Let’s take a look.
Black women have a moment at the inauguration: 💯/💯
Forever FLOTUS showed up and showed out with a head-to-toe matching ensemble and hair laid for days. Amanda Gorman, 22, delivered a stunning poem as the youngest poet to perform at the inauguration. Oh, and of course Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first Black Asian woman Vice President. Black women remain unmatched.
Dr. Maya Angelou honored with her own Barbie doll: 💯/💯
Mattel is paying homage to Dr. Angelou by creating a Barbie in her image as part of their “Inspiring Women Series.” The Barbie is designed in her likeness with a curvy body donning a head wrap and floral print dress. Are we too old to play with dolls? ’Cause we want one!
Clap When You Land book optioned for TV: 75/💯
If you’re looking to dive into new stories, look no further than Elizabeth Acevedo’s novel Clap When You Land, which tells the story of two Afro-Latinx teens living in two different countries who discover they’re sisters after the death of their father. The book, written in verse, has been picked up for a TV series with Acevedo as executive producer.
Indya Moore is trying to make the world a better place for trans youth: 💯/💯
We just want to take a moment and give actor, model, and activist Indya Moore their flowers for everything they do on their social media platform to advocate for the lives of trans youth, Black people, and the intersections therein. Check out their social media for posts defending trans lives and beseeching followers and lawmakers to protect trans youth. Indya is using their platform for good and we love to see it.
The Houston Chronicle fumbles their Kamala Harris tweet: 🚮/💯
It started out so well… An image of our VP dressed in all purple being sworn into office was shared on the newspaper’s Twitter account. After commenting on the cultural significance of the color purple, the Chronicle mentioned purple was a nod to Harris’ sorority. Um, what?! Do they think Kamala is a Que? AKA is pink and green, baby.
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“For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb
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