2010 was a whirlwind year as the nation kicked off an entrance into a new decade. As a society we became technologically hip, strapped to social media, and empowered ourselves through the click of a button. Politically, we saw the ongoing struggles of racial injustice in communities across the nation and questioned the accountability of our government and current administration. As much as there were troubles, there were indeed triumphs, and a boatload of life lessons were disseminated. So, as we gather together during the last days of this year and reflect on our pasts to inform our futures, think of the ways that as women we can collectively remain empowered. Here are eight highlights for Black women in 2010.
Whippin’ Our Hair
Several Black women said goodbye to the creamy crack and let their curly tresses hang free. Going natural was a big trend in 2010, as we watched not only the urban, contemporary woman take a hold of the hair phenomenon, but young professionals and entertainers in the media as well. We took pride in natural hair, short crops, and long tresses and shook our glorious manes like the beautiful lionesses that we are to prove that Black is indeed beautiful. And so is our hair no matter, like Willow Smith would say, if it’s long, short, curly or straight—we’re still hot.
The Harajuku Barbie
As much as we’d love to dish and dissect her all day, we can’t shy away from the way that Nicki Minaj, a 26-year-old rapper from Queens, New York, has stayed hungry and pushed her way to the top. Although her appearance, and mantra for youth may be questionable, her motivation and drive is something to value and admire. As she moved from simply being the featured artist and sidekick on tracks, to releasing her own album, Pink Friday, Nicki Manaj proved in 2010 that Black women should not be afraid to be unique in today’s world—and that the underdog always wins.
The international context for Black women was brought to the surface back in January, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti and affected more than 1 million people. It was amazing to see how the Black community banded together to help individuals on a global scale. There was no Caribbean, African, or Black American divide during this time of need. The Haitian earthquake helped us to realize as Black women that we are all members of the diaspora and a cultural responsibility extends beyond ancestral history. Together, along with a majority of the nation, we reached out to help one of the poorest nations in the Western hemisphere—through monetary fundraisers, donations, and words of support—and the outpouring of love continues to this day.
Our Love Is Too Sanctified
The state of Black women was heavily analyzed by society and the media. 2010 was the year in which a study released by Yale researchers that claimed that 48 percent of Black women were unmarried started a year-long debate on the state of the single Black woman. Discussions and viral videos made it appear that Black women are too picky and have unrealistic standards. However, the chatter about Black women and love also revealed a new state of empowerment, helping us to realize that we don’t need to settle; as leaders in our community we can challenge Black men to rise above those standards and change the statistics that serve to divide Black men and women.
Big Girls Rule
The self-proclaimed comedian and big girl, Mo’ Nique, made headlines when she received her first Oscar for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Precious’s mother in the film “Precious.” Also, making headlines was Gabourey Sidibe’s Oscar nomination for Best Actress in her first acting role ever, and her appearance as the cover girl for Elle magazine. Both leading ladies proved that the big girl doesn’t always have to be the “funny one” or the chick in the background. As women in the public eye, both actresses embraced their sizes and touched America with their talent and were recognized for their outstanding work with Oscar nods. They proved that in the world of skinny America, big girls still rule too.
Black Feminism is Not a Beast
And Tyler Perry let America know that in the production of “For Colored Girls,” which featured a plethora of big-name actress and entertainers. Adapted from Ntozake Shange’s 1975 screenplay For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Isn’t Enuf, the film showcased, with exaggeration and gravity, the extreme daily mores that Black women face in society. The film left many with mixed reviews, but one thing can be agreed on: it helped Black women to understand the definition of sisterhood and looking out for each other—leaving us feeling a whole lot more empowered about ourselves and helping us to recognize the steps we can take to help uplift each other.
The Battle Against Hunger
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, nearly twenty-five percent of African-American households suffer from food insecurity. Our leading First Lady, Michelle Obama, made it a point to change those figures and impact the lives of millions by spearheading a national program geared towards health and a piece of legislation that was recently signed into law. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, otherwise known as WIC Reauthorization Act, which passed successfully through the House and Senate in December, grants $2 million to improve state schools’ food programs. The First Lady not only worked her magic, but proved that as role models, leading ladies, and mothers of young ones in our community, we are true to our nature and continue to care and fight for productive, healthy lives.
The Power of Words
Last summer’s case of Shirley Sherrod and the United States Department of Agriculture showed her ability to bounce back after the political fiasco raised questions about Black women’s vulnerability in the digital age. Back in July, Sherrod was forced to resign from her position as Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the USDA after blogger Andrew Breitbart posted a video excerpt of a speech that Sherrod made at a 2010 March NAACP event. However, upon later review of the unedited video, the USDA apologized to Sherrod and offered her a new position overseeing diversity in the organization. The incident let us know that the struggle against racism is inadvertent but still present, and taught us about the power of the media and context.