Within the last few months, we've pushed through a never-ending pandemic, elected a new president, witnessed protests to recognize Black humanity, and observed an insurrection with the goal of dismantling all notions of that humanity. Finding the positivity in these moments as a Black woman, and as a Black writer, has felt nearly impossible.
After a year like 2020, it can feel tempting to write this turmoil off as a necessary part of our American story, pick President Biden as our Superman and move forward. After all, superhero stories are the American way. But I've come to the conclusion that if we are going to glean anything silver from this storm, it has to be the truth. And the truth is, Americans have never been unified behind a single savior. Our nation survives on the shoulders of marginalized heroes who are only ever cursorily acknowledged by history. They are the people who step in, fueled by their own moral fortitude, even when so little in this country seems to benefit them.
Coretta Scott King once said, "I am made to sound like an attachment to a vacuum cleaner. The wife of Martin, then the widow of Martin, all of which I was proud to be. But I was never just a wife, nor a widow. I was always more than a label."
If there is anything positive to be gained from this moment in history, it is the opportunity to do something differently. That means honoring Black women who, like Coretta Scott King, are dedicated and resilient, radical and trailblazing, tough and smart—and deserving of our full, undivided attention.
This Black History Month, HelloGiggles is honoring five Black women who have made crucial, enduring changes in their respective fields, from Queen Sugar star Bianca Lawson, who has been a beacon of visibility for Black audiences for decades, to Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a therapist who has created a community to nurture Black women's mental health. We spoke to Teresa C. Younger, an activist and advocate who's the President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women; Nafessa Williams, the groundbreaking actor saving the world in TV's Black Lightning; and Lauren Ash, the founder and CEO of the meditation collective Black Girl in OM, focused on Black women's mental wellbeing.
For us, recognizing the value in these women's actions is a small, positive step in correcting course. Once we begin telling the story of a nation with many heroes, not just one, perhaps that nation will begin to change for the better.
Photo Editor: Jasmine Purdie
Art Director: Jenna Brillhart
Designers: Sarah Maiden & Emily Lundin
Illustrator: Aleea Rae Campbell