16 Black Women We Learned From In 2017

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2017, I will not miss you. I am so ready for the new year, but before the clock strikes midnight, it’s only right to give a shout out to the Black women who we learned from in 2017. It’s easy to dismiss 2017 as the worst year since... well, 2016, but 2017 has had a few silver linings, and it’s time to give credit where credit is due. Because chances are good that if you’ve learned something new this year, a Black woman had something to do with that newly acquired knowledge.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? In 2017, an actual establishment served an alcoholic beverage called “Pill Cosby” and thought it was funny. Kendall Jenner and Pepsi thought a can of soda would solve long-standing racial tension. And in Alabama, Democrat Doug Jones beat Roy Moore, an accused sexual predator, by less than 2 percentage points — a victory that was rightfully credited to Black women showing up in the face of widespread voter suppression. It’s been a rough year, but with a few silver linings thrown in.

Despite all the obstacles 2017 has thrown our way, Black women have still managed to teach and inspire millions. Whether it was in entertainment, journalism, sports, health, beauty, or politics, Black women were leading the conversation and making people pay attention. Ahead, find a small sampling of the Black women who dropped the knowledge we needed this year.

Cardi B

Cardi taught us that dreams really can come true with hard work and perseverance. The stripper turned reality television star turned rapper has had an incredible year professionally and personally and she doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

Maxine Waters

Auntie Maxine taught us a little known Congressional rule when she stated that "When you're on my time, I can reclaim it," but more importantly she gave us a mantra to carry into 2018 and beyond.

Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke's vision literally changed the course of 2017 for the better. Her #MeToo Movement empowered many survivors of sexual assault to speak out and even inspired TIME's 2017 Person of the Year.

Nikole Hannah-Jones
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Nikole Hannah-Jones, a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Award" recipient, staff writer at the New York Times, and “The Beyoncé of Journalism,” taught us about racial segregation, desegregation, and resegregation in American schools through her moving investigative longform pieces.

Issa Rae

Issa Rae proved that accurately representing Black people in media is possible with her HBO show Insecure gaining a larger following in its third season. She always showed the world that there are many ways to be beautiful as a spokesperson for Covergirl.

Yara Shahidi

Yara Shahidi is proof that actresses can be socially aware and critique the systems that they benefit from. The young starlet called out colorism in Hollywood in addition to speaking on issues of racism and exclusion.

& 8. Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu

Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu taught Another Round listeners so much in 2017. From professional development to mental health management techniques, Clayton and Nigatu have given their fans the space to listen to, learn from, and dialogue with like-minded folks.

April Reign
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If anyone tells you "it's just Twitter," kindly point them in the direction of April Reign, the co-creator of #NoConfederate, a hashtag that helped stop the creation of a show that imagined if the South would've won the Civil War. She also helps folks (including herself) get jobs with the #ReignyDayJobs hashtag.


Rihanna taught the beauty industry a thing or two when she launched Fenty Beauty, a makeup line that caters to women of all shades. Some of her competitors scrambled to include foundations of darker shades, with the lesson being that inclusivity sells.

Dr. Joy Harden Bradford

Dr. Joy saw a need for therapists among Black women and created a therapist directory, blog, and podcast to help folks in their mental health journeys. "Therapy for Black Girls" is a needed resource that drops knowledge consistently.

Eve Ewing

You'll probably learn more about race and education from following Eve Ewing on Twitter than you ever learned in any classroom.

Lena Waithe

Lena Waithe speaks about forcing people to pay attention to her talent, and it paid off because she won an Emmy for her contributions to Master of None. Now, she's creating her own show. Whether you're in the entertainment industry or not, you can learn from Waithe's assertiveness.

Paulah Wheeler

Paulah Wheeler is a co-founder of BLKHLTH, an organization that educates, engages, and empowers the Black community regarding health and wellness. Wheeler co-facilitates community events and proudly proclaims "Black Health Matters."

Munroe Bergdorf

Munroe Bergdorf was fired by L’Oréal after speaking out about white privilege, but Bergdorf got the last laugh. Twitter collectively had her back, and she landed new gigs while staying true to herself and her beliefs.

Raianna Brown

Raianna Brown took a stand by taking a knee and showed solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and other athletes who were protesting police brutality and other racial injustices. Brown proved that literally everyone can use their voice.

As the year comes to a close, thank the Black women in your life that you've learned from, and if you're not familiar with any of the women on this list, read up on them and learn a thing or three. Then, be sure to thank them for dropping the knowledge we needed during this trash year. Hopefully, the lessons we learned from them will make it easy to reclaim our time in 2018.