America has been backed onto the ropes since Donald Trump was elected president in November of 2016, but we got a good punch in last night when Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore for the U.S. Alabama Senate seat. When the exit polls came in, there was a stark division between the way white people and black people voted, and it became clear that black voters — particularly black women — are responsible for the fact that a pedophile didn't get voted into Congress. We have always owed a lot to the efforts of black women who've regularly been erased from history and stripped of the credit they deserve. Finally, in 2017, which is beyond too late, we are starting to listen. In an effort to keep listening, this is a list of the best recent work of some of 2017's most exciting artists and creators and movers and shakers, all of whom are black women.
In the presidential election last November, and in the Alabama Senate election last night, black women proved that they are stepping up in a big way for the Democratic party, while white women are only hurting the cause.
It’s important to point out that the narrative of black voters “saving” Alabama is a dangerous one — they are trying to protect themselves, their rights, and their livelihoods by voting for the only candidates that will work to dismantle the oppressive systems of racism that have been holding them back for hundreds of years.
Meanwhile, white women, especially evangelical ones, thought electing a pedophile to Congress was better than electing a guy who thinks women should be able to make decisions about their own body and prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members who killed four black girls in a bombing. It’s a problem we must address.
In the aftermath of the election, when these voter statistics were released, many began thanking black women for saving Alabama and swaying the election in the right direction. And that's great. But we have to do more, as poignantly pointed out by writer and speaker Austin Channing:
We need to thank black women for the immense amount of work they’re doing, yes, but then we must continue to listen and learn from them.
Below is a (definitely incomplete) list of fantastic, important, and downright entertaining content made by black women in and around 2017 that everyone should know and follow and consume voraciously. We must amplify these significant voices and be true allies and listen and listen and listen some more.
Insecure, Issa Rae
The HBO series Insecure is the brainchild of Issa Rae, who created, co-writes, and stars in the show. It’s based on her runaway success of a web series Awkward Black Girl, and it’s hilarious, whip-smart, and super relatable. Rae is pretty much taking over the world, and we’re here for it. It was recently announced that she’s developing a new series for HBO, an L.A.-set drama that takes place in the ’90s. She’ll be working with another fierce female creator of color, Angela Flournoy, whose 2015 book The Turner House, was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Suffice it to say, we’re beyond excited.
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Sing, Unburied, Sing is a National Book Award winner and the third novel by Jesmyn Ward. Ward previously won the National Book Award for her 2011 novel, Salvage the Bones. Sing centers around a road trip — a black woman and her two children make their way to a prison to pick up their white father. It’s part road novel, part ghost story, and all brilliant. One thing’s for certain — Jesmyn Ward is a powerhouse.
@AprilDRyan, Twitter account of April D. Ryan
Journalist and author April D. Ryan has served as a White House correspondent since 1997. She’s incredibly smart and insightful and respected in the journalism world. Her commentary is always on point, and she’s become famous recently for asking the Trump administration the tough questions they don’t want to answer. We need more reporters like April Ryan, though she is truly one-of-a-kind.