2018 was a seemingly rough year for everyone. With America in a political and economic freefall, and the ramifications of both causing domino effects in unprecedented ways, it can be difficult to look on the bright side of things. But, as always, Black women remained the highlight of the year, managing to shine bright in these dark times. Here is a list of my 10 favorite moments of Black girl excellence this year.
Black Panther was revolutionary for many reasons, one being how it utilized its Black actresses in a multitude of creative ways. Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, and Angela Bassett were all perfectly cast and gave superb performances. Their craft in their characters made the movie the powerhouse it was and remains to be.
Naomi Wadler’s Speech
In March of 2018, 11-year-old Naomi Wadler gave a moving speech at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C. The fifth-grader gave a voice to Black girl victims who are often left out of the conversation of gun violence.
“I am here to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news,” Wadler said. “I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.”
Beyoncé is the best. Let’s just be honest here. Beychella was definitely the most exhilarating experiences of the year, and probably of all time. I can’t remember the last time I had goosebumps for a solid three hours. It was almost overwhelming. That arrangement of “Say My Name” still gets stuck in my head at least once a week.
Meghan Markle’s royal wedding
Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle had one of the most incredible weddings of all time. She looked absolutely gorgeous. had an amazing array of guests in attendance, and became one of the few people of color to join the royal family. Harry was there too, I guess.
Alfre Woodard’s Sistah Soiree
The night before Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood event, Alfre Woodard hosted her annual Sistah Soiree and there was so much power in the room. The event was overrun with Black girl excellence and sisterhood and produced some of the most Instagrammable photos of the year.
Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer Album
Janella Monae will always hold a special place in my heart. For a long time, her music spoke to me as that weirdo music for weirdo Black kids. She just got me, you know? And with this visual album (featuring the effervescent Tessa Thompson who I will always ship with Monae), she spoke to the queer side of me, the one that had been locked away for much longer. The visuals of queer blackness were stunning and everything I’ve ever needed, and I’m forever grateful for her.
Serena Williams’s catsuit
Serena Williams is and always will be the GOAT. Her postpartum story that she so willingly shared with the public as a lesson in how Black women are not treated as well by doctors was harrowing and heartbreaking. I’m putting this catsuit here, after she was yet again singled out by the French Open for wearing it, because it, to me, was a symbol of how Black women are disrespected and singled out and how we have to be twice as good to get half as much as our white counterparts. Serena’s grace and patience, and honesty in the face of hatred was refreshing and necessary.
Black women take over magazine covers
Look, I don’t buy magazines anymore. They usually just end up in the recycling and then make me feel bad for ruining the earth. But! This September, the birth month of both me and Queen Bee, something very different and awesome happened; Black women graced the covers of 11 mainstream fashion magazines. It was such an awesome time to hang out in grocery store lines and see so many faces that looked like mine looking back at me. We say “representation matters” so much that it begins to lose its meaning, but seeing it in action, especially when you’re so used to seeing the opposite, is powerful.
Ayanna Pressley becomes MASSACHUSETTS’S first Black congresswoman
The 2018 elections were brutal. We had a lot of loses for, like, a decent country. Well, I mean, it’s been this way for a couple years, but this was like another punch to the gut. But, we had some good things happen too, including the election of Ayanna Soyini Pressley, the first Black congresswoman of Massachusetts, defeating 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano. Her election, along with a few others, served as a small, glimmering light of hope. It ain’t over, not yet.
Janet Jackson Finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Finally. FINALLY. How had the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame existed without having Janet Jackson honored at its inception? How? Someone, please, I’m serious. Janet Jackson is a legend, an icon. She was owed her dues ten times over, and getting news that she would finally be inducted was like a sigh of relief. It feels like Black women have to wait to get what we’re owed, and this was definitely one of those moments, it seems. But, despite how I may feel, I was ecstatic that Janet was given this honor.
2018 was an uphill battle, for sure. I have big plans for 2019 and the years to come, and I’m sure each year will come with its own challenges. But one thing I’m sure of is that Black women will continue to prevail and succeed and win and fight and inspire and be the reason for me to keep going. Happy 2019, y’all.