Browse Tag

black women

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$25 Million Black Women Owned Fund Receives Multi-Million Dollar Investment from Mastercard

Fearless Fund is a Black women owned firm that invests in women of color-led businesses seeking pre-seed, seed level, or series A financing. Its mission is to bridge the gap in venture capital funding for women of color founders building scalable, growth aggressive companies.

To help further access to funding for Black women, Mastercard today announced a multi-million dollar investment in the $25 million fund.

The investment will allow Fearless Fund to further expand its portfolio of women of color founded and co-founded companies in the consumer packaged goods, food & beverage, beauty, fashion, and technology sectors.

“This multi-million dollar investment from Mastercard is further proof of their commitment to providing resources in an effort to better serve the hard-working but severely underfunded Women of Color entrepreneurs who so deserve equal capital distribution. We have been working together with Mastercard for almost 3 years now and look forward to growing this relationship,” says Arian Simone, Co-Founder & General Partner of Fearless Fund.

Other investors in Fearless Fund include PayPal, Bank of America, Invest Atlanta, and the Florida A&M University Foundation.

Tony O. Lawson


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13 Black Women Who Were The “FIRST” To Do It

Time Magazine recently launched “Firsts”, a celebration of women who broke ground in their fields — from the arts and politics to the world of science and the military. Check out the Black women who were recognized:

Patricia Bath is the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology and the first African-American female doctor to receive a medical patent. She invented the Laserphaco Probe for cataract treatment in 1986.

Ursula Burns, the former CEO of Xerox, was the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company.

Mo’Ne Davis First was the first girl to pitch a shutout and win a game in a Little League World Series.

Gabby Douglas is the first American gymnast to win solo and team all-around gold medals at one Olympics.

Ava DuVernay is the first Black woman to direct a film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

Carla Haden is the first woman and first African American to be Librarian of Congress.

Loretta Lynch is the first Black woman to become U.S. Attorney General.

Ilhan Omar is the first Somali-American Muslim person to become a legislator.

Issa Rae is the first Black woman to create and star in a premium cable series.

Shonda Rhimes is the first woman to create three hit shows with more than 100 episodes each.

 

Serena Williams is the first tennis player to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles in the open era.

Oprah Winfrey is the first woman to own and produce her own talk show.

Rita Dove is the first Black U.S. poet laureate.

 

See the Full list here

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Forgotten Black Women of Early Hollywood On Display at CAAM

Hollywood has long had a problem with representation and diversity, especially concerning anyone female and nonwhite. In the first half of the 20th century, black women were largely relegated to playing mammy and jezebel roles.

D.W. Griffith’s 1915 classic “Birth of a Nation” even depicted African Americans as rapists and imbeciles, leading to a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.

The black woman’s unfortunate standing in Hollywood history is why the California African American Museum’s “Center Stage: African American Women in Silent Race Films,” which runs until October 15, is so significant.

It reveals how as early as 100 years ago, independent black filmmakers presented complex portrayals of women of color that major studios never fathomed.

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Iris Hall as Eve Mason in “The Symbol of the Unconquered” (1920). USA. Directed by Oscar Micheaux | Courtesy of the California African American Museum

These silent gems depict black women exploring their religious faith, fighting for the rights of African Americans and in loving relationships.

They underscore how even today Hollywood has much ground to cover in its depiction of black women.

Read more about the exhibition here.

The exhibition also includes images from Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates (1920). This film is the oldest surviving feature by an African American director and includes the race film genre’s “First Lady of the Screen,” Evelyn Preer.

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Evelyn Preer (1896-1932)

 

The actress gives a compelling portrayal of a mixed-race African American woman, determined to do well in a world working against her, who finds strength in her embrace of black pride.

 

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Some of the Dopest Black Women You’ve Never Heard Of

“In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own” wrote Alice Walker in her seminal essay about artistic Black women who graced this Earth with very little, if any, fanfare.

Their works were often forgotten, their voices muted, their styles co-opted, and in the case of Zora Neale Hurston, their bodies were buried without tombstones.

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alice walker

As Walker immersed herself in the life stories of other Black women, she came to understand her voice and the power that we relinquish when we don’t honor our own.

I think of my literary foremothers often, especially in our current cultural environment. There has been a lot of discussion as of late about Black women—our fragility, our magic, our invisibility, our power. These are private conversations turned public that are long overdue.

In many ways, we are reclaiming the genius that we call Black female creativity and we are doing it in spaces that once denied our very existence.

The only problem with reclaiming things is that we sometimes forget the people who came before us who tilted the infertile soil that made it possible for us to pave the roads that we now call our own.

In particular, I am reminded of a group of Black women who served as the Mount Rushmore of Black womanhood. You may know them as individuals, but not many of us know about the group that they formed together.

Harriet Tubman, Frances E.W. Harper, Margaret Murray Washington, Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell and Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin were each powerful in her own right, but collectively, they created a movement called the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) that would sweep this nation. And they did it with the motto, “Lifting as we Climb” as their guiding light.

(For today’s readers, this would be the equivalent of Oprah, Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Maxine Waters, and Toni Morrison coming together and using their collective platforms for one cause.)

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harriet tubman

Tired of the injustices being espoused by white southern journalists who viewed Black women with disdain and wrote scathing articles that called into question their humanity and morality, these women said enough is enough.

Rather than just sitting around pontificating about the problem and shifting blame, they decide to do something about it.

Frances E.W. Harper

They were strategic. Washington D.C. was the organization’s launching point, but to have real impact, the women knew that the clubs needed to touch every segment of Black America from its urban epicenters to its rural and remote corners.

As the word spread about the clubs, they started sprouting up in cities across America.

Margaret Murray Washington

Their purpose was intentional and their mission was specific—leverage the power of Black women as mothers, wives, consumers, educators, business owners, intellectuals, and thought leaders to change the ways in which Black people were treated in America.

This was before the NAACP, before any Black sorority was founded and before Black women could even vote.

Ida B. Wells

With an emphasis on culture, politics, education, and voting rights, the NACW once had over 300 clubs across America.

They made a profound impact on how Black women were viewed and perceived in the public eye before fading into obscuring in the 1930’s as America’s culture shifted.

Mary Church Terrell

So, why does this matter today?

There is a dominant narrative about Black women playing out in popular culture right now that is dangerous.

If observed with an uncritical eye, you just might believe that Black women see each other as competition or as threatening. Even more problematic is the misnomer that a benign disagreement will lead to a physical altercation.

Yes, I know reality TV shows, in particular, often pit women against each other because drama sells. However, whose reality is this?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t fight my friends; yet, we have young people who watch these shows, internalize the message, and then behave accordingly.

Young girls see many of these images as examples of Black womanhood and it creates the misnomer that we can’t or won’t get along. And if you think it’s just TV, think again.

The one group that is being disciplined and suspended at the most alarming, disproportionate rate is Black girls and their number one offense is often fighting.

What if the narrative shifted and we saw each other as potential partners, collaborators, and supporters? Can you imagine how different our schools and our communities would be if our girls, from an early age, embraced their true potential?

What would it look like if they aspired not just for material comforts, but for greatness?

We must lift as we climb—not just as a slogan that makes us feel good about ourselves, but because it is in our cultural DNA. And that’s why learning about some of the dopest Black women in American history is so important.

We already have a blueprint. If they did it in 1896, what’s stopping us in 2017?

 

Dr. Tyra Seldon is a professional writer, motivational speaker, and the Founder and CEO of

Seldon Writing Group, LLC. She has worked with a wide range of clients ranging from Dr. Boyce

Watkins, Damon Dash, and Kenyatta Griggs to Freelancers Union, National Geographic and

OpenEd. Her articles often explore the intersections of race, culture, gender, and identity. She

can be reached at seldonwritinggroup@hotmail.com

Black Women
Dr. Tyra Seldon

 

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How GirlTrek Inspired a Love Letter to Black Women

My interview with GirlTrek is one that has been in the making for a while now—I just didn’t realize it.  My first encounter with them was last year. I was in New Orleans, spending Christmas and ushering in 2016 at the home of my future parents in-law.  I came across GirlTrek’s website while doing research for a health-related post. At the time, I didn’t really pay much attention.

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In New Orleans with Shantrelle

Next, Shoppe Black content contributor extraordinaire, Mavis Gragg, mentioned GirlTrek in one of her recent posts. Then, a few months ago, my fiancées childhood BFF, Jewel, was in town for work. During one of our conversations, I found out that she is actually GirlTrek’s National Director of Communications.

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Jewel

We spoke more about the organization and I was immediately impressed by the impact they are having on the lives of thousands of women across the country. I asked her to please set up an interview with the co-founders, Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison.

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Morgan and Vanessa

Fast forward to my scheduled conference call that took place the day before yesterday. When I called Vanessa, she was grabbing a bite to eat at a Peruvian food spot in DC. We chatted briefly about the difference between DC and Philly before Morgan hopped on the call.

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I began the interview by asking how GirlTrek started. Morgan explained that it started 20 years ago. That’s how long she and Vanessa have been friends. They started walking together and eventually grew a following of 10,000 women.

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Since then, GirlTrek has grown to over 75,00 members. According to Vanessa, the more accurate number is most likely double that since they weren’t really keeping an accurate count in the beginning and several unofficial chapters have since sprung up across the country.

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Both women are deeply concerned with the fact that of the over 20 million Black women in America, 57% are obese and are leading in every obesity-related disease across the country.  According to Morgan, the root cause of obesity and the related diseases is connected to a history of racism and poverty.

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Black women have historically had to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and put everyone before themselves, sometimes neglecting their own health. Now, she says, it’s time for Black women to take that power back and reclaim their health, starting with making the commitment to walk for at least 30 minutes a day.

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I let Morgan and Vanessa know that as a Black man, I feel it’s my responsibility and the responsibility of other Black men to do what we can to ensure the emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of Black women.

I asked what ways they feel Black men can support their wives, partners, or relatives who are GirlTrek members. How can we support Black women in general?

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That question seemed to catch them off guard. It was pretty obvious they weren’t expecting to hear that. They thanked me for asking and explained that it is vital that Black women receive support from the Black men in their lives.

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According to Morgan, the best way to be supportive is to create an environment that allows Black women the time for self-care. Another way to be supportive is for Black men to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and financially so that the women in their lives don’t have to do so while trying to figure themselves out.

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Vanessa and Morgan are troubled by the narrative that is being told about Black women. We’ve all heard the negative stereotypes, so no need to get into all that. However, what concerned me was that based on our conversation, there seemed to be a sense that Black men just aren’t here for Black women.

That we are the ones perpetuating a negative narrative associated with Black women. Morgan said that from what she sees in the majority of cases, the only time love or appreciation for one’s partner is expressed, particularly online, is between a Black man and a non-Black woman or a Black woman and her non-Black partner.

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I explained that this is far from the truth. First, I am surrounded by far too many loving, caring, funny and brilliant Black women to subscribe to any type of negative stereotype or narrative about them. Second, my woman and I have absolutely no qualms about expressing our love for each other verbally, physically, or digitally. In fact, we do so regularly and often get playfully teased about it by our friends.

I also explained that I have conversations with my closest friends about how amazing and beautiful Black women are ALL. THE. TIME. Especially about the women that we are dating, engaged to, or are married to. I think one issue is that the negative minority are way louder than the majority of Black men that adore Black women. Maybe they have more time on their hands to be on social media talking nonsense, who knows.

But to be clear:

Dear Black Women,

We see you. We see you in all your glory and greatness. In your high and low moments. We see you because you stand out amongst the crowd. Your magic is undeniable. We see you because we are looking for you wherever we go. Wherever you are is where we want to be. You are our complement and we are yours. Not in a sexual or romantic sense, but universally. We know you were made by the hands of the Creator, and that alone imbues you with a power and a grace unmatched on this Earth.
 

Love,

Black Men

(by TJ Dean)

Click here to watch GirlTrek’s mini-documentary that highlights what happens when women walk. 

 

Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson