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Things That Gave Us Life: The "Unapologetically Black" Edition

 Celebrities attend Disney | ABC TCA 2014 Summer Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton hotel - Arrivals

Featuring: Tracee Ellis Ross
Where: Beverly Hills, California, United States
When: 15 Jul 2014
Credit: Brian To/

Things That Gave Us Life: The "Unapologetically Black" Edition

Words: Ashley Poag

Our weekly roundup of the best things that happened online and IRL.

Wikimedia Commons

Black actresses aren't staying quiet about the different beauty standards they face in the industry. Our favorite natural hair gal pal, fashion maven, and actress Tracee Ellis Ross recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly and gave them an earful on the narrow beauty standards placed on black women “You hire me, you hire my hair and you hire my ass. It’s all coming with me.” She said. Ross' looks and her abilities haven't gone unnoticed—she was nominated for an NAACP Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series award for her role as Dr. Rainbow Johnson on the ABC primetime show blackish.

Likewise, 42-year-old actress Thandie Newton (Half of a Yellow Sun) spoke to the Telegraph  about a number of childhood instances that affected her self-worth, including a nun not allowing her to take her school pictures, leading Newton to believe her braided hair was considered "ghetto." "There were layers and layers of low self-esteem attached to these early experiences, and I continued to have very low self-esteem for years," Newton explains in the essay. "So as soon as I could I had my curly hair professionally 'relaxed' with chemicals to make it "normal", and it stayed straight until only a few years ago. It was how Hollywood wanted my hair, too." Thankfully, Newton has embraced her looks and her experiences have inspired her to co-found  Thandie Kay, an inclusive beauty blog that caters to a wide range of beauty.


Ava Duvernay has made history. again: She became the first black woman to be nominated for a best director Golden Globe for Selma. Only two other black directors have been nominated for that category: Spike Lee in 1990 for Do the Right Thing and Steve McQueen in 2014 for 12 Years A Slave.

In an interview with USA Today, Duvernay had this to say about being the first: 

"It's bittersweet. It's a sweet moment for me, not because I'm the first, but because of the fact [that Selma is] something I worked hard on, I gave it 100% of everything I had.

"The 'first' of it all is the bittersweet part. I'm certainly not the first black woman deserving of this. You can't tell me that since 1943 there's not been another black woman who's made something worthy of this kind of recognition. But for whatever reason it hasn't happened. The time is now. I thank them for recognizing Selma. I just hope … that we get through all the "firsts," that we can just get to the good stuff and that people can just make their work and move on from [that conversation].



  • Ariel Investments president Mellody Hobson discussed why she stopped apologizing for being black with Forbes Magazine during its Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference. After hearing the founder of Jet and Ebony described as "unapologetically black," Hobson realized she had been "been apologizing for who I am, about being a woman, and about being black—and it stops today."

  • Showing off one of her many talents, singer, model, and now certified chef Kelis, shared recipes and her holiday meal preparations during a special on the Cooking Channel, Holiday Feast with Kelis.

  • Jamaican swimmer Alia Atkinson was the first black woman to win a world swimming title. She is now the 100m breaststroke champion. She broke records at the Fina World Swimming championship this week as well.

  • Al Green was among those honored by President Barack Obama at the Kennedy Center. During an interview on the Tom Joyner Morning show, Green said he tried to get the president to sing his hit “Let’s Stay Together” as he did at a fundraiser in 2012. The president declined. Maybe he was a little shy in front of the legend.

  • Protests continue in response to police brutality and lack of indictments in the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. And it seems as though anger around these injustices has spread beyond our borders—photos of protesters standing in solidarity in Palestine, China, and many places around the world have emerged. All of them are holding signs in support of the victims in Ferguson, Missouri and New York. Nice to know we are not alone.

  • The White House held a travel blogger summit this week aimed at getting more Americans to travel abroad. We didn’t see many faces of color, which led us to Travel Noire. They feature travelers of color selfieing it up from places like Abu Simbel, Egypt and atop elephants in Jaipur, India. If you are looking for some travel inspiration and tips be sure to check them out (and their Instagram account is out of this world).


Ashley Poag is mater mea's intern and an aspiring multimedia journalist.