Beautiful Feminine Sisters

Notes From a Fantasy/Romance Author: Why I Made My Heroine Really Dark and Really Feminine

Beautiful Feminine Sisters

Where are these Black women in movies, books and films?

Re-posted with permission from

The short answer of why I decided to make the female heroine of my fantasy/romance novel The Last King really dark and really feminine is because such a woman is a rarity to see in literature, film or television.

I mean, even if a heroine is Black, she’s likely brown-colored or light, and she is most certainly going to have straight hair and not her natural curls.

Not so with Emmy Hughes – I decided to make her everything this world insists should not be considered beautiful, lovely and worth perusing – dark-skinned with kinky hair  (okay, it’s BIG kinky hair for sure, no teeny weeny afro’s I admit, but that’s because I like BIG hair).

The main reason I did this is because I’m tired of seeing the same images played out in the media of what’s attractive. I specifically wanted to contribute, no matter how small, to the idea of Black women being seen as attractive and feminine.

Why feminine? Because Black women have traditionally been denied the right to be seen this way, and personally, I think this has hurt us in numerous ways.


We are beautiful self definition

We Are Beautiful-Affirming Our Self-Definition

Sisterhood Agenda features a picture of actress, Viola Davis, in its Black Girls Guide:  How to Transition to Naturally Beautiful Hair.  Davis relishes the opportunity to portray a character who is “sexy… complicated… mysterious” in Shonda Rhimes’ new hit television show, How to Get Away With Murder.  In a recent newspaper article, the New York Times calls Shonda Rhimes “angry” and Viola Davis “less classically beautiful.” Watch how we defy stereotypes and labels:

“It seems that other people, they don’t quite get it, which I find insanely amusing. The New York Times seem shocked, let me say it again, shocked, and called Shonda an angry Black woman and says you are ‘less classically beautiful’ than typical TV stars. Now isn’t beauty subjective?” Whoopi Goldberg, “The View” co-host.

“I think that beauty is subjective. I’ve heard that statement ‘less classically beautiful’ my entire life,” states Viola Davis. “Being a dark-skinned Black woman, you heard it from the womb. And classically not beautiful is a fancy term for saying ugly. And denouncing you. And erasing you. Now…it worked when I was younger. It no longer works for me now… It’s about teaching a culture how to treat you and how to see you… Because at the end of the day, you define you.”

In The Hollywood Reporter, Rhimes also addressed the issue:

“In this world in which we all feel we’re so full of gender equality and we’re a postracial [society] and Obama is president, it’s a very good reminder to see the casual racial bias and odd misogyny from a woman written in a paper that we all think of as being so liberal.”


Discovered … Member of the African Choir, London Stereoscopic Company, 1891. Photograph: Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Hidden Beauty: Portraits Not Seen for Over 120 Years

Discovered … Member of the African Choir, London Stereoscopic Company, 1891. Photograph: Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Discovered … Member of the African Choir, London Stereoscopic Company, 1891. Photograph: Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

These long-lost series of photographs, unseen for 120 years, is the dramatic centrepiece of an illuminating new exhibition called Black Chronicles II.  “The portraits were last shown in the London Illustrated News in 1891,” says Renée Mussai, who has co-curated the show at London’s Rivington Place alongside Mark Sealy MBE, director of Autograph ABP, a foundation that focuses on Black cultural identity often through the use of overlooked archives. “The Hulton Archive, where they came from, did not even know they existed until we uncovered them while excavating their archive as part of our research project.”

“There is a certain melancholy to many of these images, particularly the portraits of children, that speaks of exile and estrangement…  The history of colonialism, in all its contradictions, is present in these portraits,” says Mussai.

 Sara Forbes Bonetta. Brighton, 1862. Photograph: Courtesy of Paul Frecker collection/The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Sara Forbes Bonetta was captured age five by slave raiders in West Africa, rescued by Captain Frederick E Forbes, then presented as a ‘gift’ to Queen Victoria. Photograph: Courtesy of Paul Frecker collection/The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography.

Drawing on the metaphor of the chronicle the exhibition presents over 200 photographs, the majority of which have never been exhibited or published before. As a curated body of work, these photographs present new knowledge and offer different ways of seeing the Black subject in Victorian Britain, and contribute to an ongoing process of redressing persistent ‘absence’ within the historical record.

Black Chronicles II is a public showcase of Autograph ABP’s commitment to continuous critical enquiry into archive images which have been overlooked, under-researched or simply not recognised as significant previously, but which are highly relevant to black representational politics and cultural history today.

Black Chronicles II is at Rivington Place, London, until 29 November 2014.

 Eleanor Xiniwe of the African Choir, 1891. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Eleanor Xiniwe of the African Choir, 1891.
Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Ava DuVernay, first Black woman to win Best Director at Sundance Film Festival

No Big Surprise: TV Directing Still Dominated by White Men, New DGA Report Finds

Ava DuVernay, first Black woman to win Best Director at Sundance Film Festival

Ava DuVernay, director of Middle of Nowhere, first Black woman to win Best Director at Sundance Film Festival

Directors Guild of America released a report on the number of non-white and non-male directors hired to direct prime time episodic television, between 2013 and 2014, and across broadcast, basic cable, premium cable, and high budget original content series made specifically for online consumption.

In its report, the DGA says that it looked at more than 220 scripted series, and 3,500 episodes, produced in the 2013-2014 network television season, and the 2013 cable television season. And here’s what they found:

  • Caucasian males directed 69% of all episodes;
  • Minority males directed 17% of all episodes;
  • Caucasian females directed 12% of all episodes; and
  • Minority females directed 2% of all episodes

“Minority” includes all ethnic minorities, not just those of African descent.  This statistic provides perspective when looking at our entertainment industry and wondering where women and girls of African descent fit in.  The good news:  sisters are taking back their identity and images by writing, directing and starring in their own independent films.

Reported by Shadow & Act

I Am Worthy Logo

I Am Worthy- For Our Daughters Community Campaign

I Am Worthy LogoFour Girls in Birmingham Alabama 51 years , 250 girls in Nigeria four months ago. Are these two things linked? Absolutely. We are the solution to the issue. Come let us stand for dignity, safety and vision FOR OUR DAUGHTERS.

Saturday September 20, 4pm New Winston Museum 713 Marshall St. Winston- Salem, NC

Join us in a community discussion led by Oyesina Ogunmola as we discuss the problems surrounding the continual misuse of women for the entertainment and comfort of men. This worldwide phenomena create a hostile environment for women and girls to grow and flourish. Let us discuss our responsibilities to address this troubling issue.

This event is free and is a part of I am Worthy’s FOR OUR Daughters Community Campaign. For more information or questions you can visit . You may also send an email to

Huff Post Domestic Violence Cover

In Their Own Words, Domestic Violence Survivors Explain ‘Why Didn’t You Just Leave?’

Love | Money | Fear | Family | Shame | Isolation

Huff Post Domestic Violence Cover

In June, after The Huffington Post ran an investigative report on a woman allegedly murdered by her boyfriend, we received an outpouring of responses from domestic violence survivors who wanted to explain why they had stayed with their abusers. We spent the next three months interviewing these women. While they offered hundreds of reasons, ranging from the logistical to the deeply personal, some common themes emerged: Fear. Love. Family. Money. Shame. Isolation.

In this series, you will hear from six survivors of domestic violence about why they didn’t leave sooner. The stories — told in their own words — are as distinct as they are similar. One woman suffered a brutal week of abuse before fleeing. Others stayed for decades trying to make things work. Two women were shot, the bullets narrowly missing their hearts. Another endured years of incessant stalking.


Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.


Out of the Binders Symposium


Sister with Pen and Eyeglasses
WAM logoFrustrated by the dearth of women writers being published in major magazines and literary journals, WAM! is proud to be sponsoring the Out of the Binders conference, a “symposium to empower women and gender non-conforming writers with tools, connections, and strategies to advance their careers.”

Inspired by the “Binders Full of Women Writers” Facebook groups, this conference will include a wide range of programming, including professional development and skills-building workshops; speakers from a wide range of disciplines; panels on things like women in the newsroom and starting your writing career after forty; networking opportunities for folks at every stage of their career, and more!

The conference will take place on October 11 & 12 in New York City, on the campus of New York University.
Reserve your spot today before they’re gone.

Suicide Prevention Logo

World Suicide Prevention Day is Today

Suicide Prevention LogoSeptember 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or someone you know is suffering, you are not alone.  The Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help.  Trained counselors are available:

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. If you feel you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Lifeline. People have called us for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and even loneliness.

By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

Visit for more information.


Sonia Sanchez

Happy Birthday Sonia Sanchez!

Sonia Sanchez

The Center for Black Literature, Akila Worksongs, African Voices Magazine, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Arts+Crafts, Inc. invite you to:


The Official New York City 80th Birthday Party


Friday, Sept. 19, 2014 • 6 pm

Bedford Hall, 1177 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn

(bet. Madison St. and Jefferson Ave.)

Performances By

Ursula Rucker – Jessica Care Moore

Remarks by Haki Madhubuti, Third World Press

Music by DJ Reborn and much more!

Admission: $35

Buy tickets at

For more info call: 718.804.8883 or 718.756.8501

Sisterhood Agenda Equality Badge

How Does Identity Impact Women’s Human Rights?

Let’s see more women of African descent included in a discourse about female equality.
We made this badge:

Sisterhood Agenda Equality Badge

























Explore the International Museum of Women’s selection of stories in Imagining Equality about identity:

“From the U.S. to Australia, from Cuba to Switzerland, women around the world are refusing to conform to stereotypes. Instead, they are embracing their individuality, rejecting social limitations, and striving for a more equal world.

The creative pieces in IDENTITY show that when we break the constraints of a mold, we are liberated to embrace our more authentic selves. And when we have the courage to pursue our individual human rights, we are also emboldened to work toward the larger goal of human rights for all women.”

International Museum of Women,
now part of Global Fund for Women

222 Sutter Street, Suite 500 San Francisco, CA 94108

BWDW Ambassadors  Commitment Day

Black Women Do Workout Ambassadors & Commitment Day 5K

BWDW Ambassadors  Commitment Day

“We completely sold out last year which is why it is important for you to reserve your spot early with our promo code BWDW15!

My goal for Black Women “Do” Workout in 2015 is to be the largest group represented at Commitment Day 5K on New Year’s Day, so PLEASE make sure you enter BWDW15  code during registration and get your FREE T-Shirt and FREE registration for any child accompanying you under 12!  

Or, volunteer as a Chapter Ambassador for the walk/run race and FIND OUT HOW TO REGISTER FOR FREE! 

We can do this!  Just click the registration button and we will see you there!”   Crystal Adell


National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV


PWN-USA’s first-ever SPEAK UP! A National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV will begin, bringing 200 women living with HIV from all corners of the U.S., together in Fort Walton Beach, FL. These fierce women are fundraising to pave their own roads to SPEAK UP! Read the stories in this eblast and find out how you can support these awesome efforts!

Why are so many women so passionate about attending this herstoric gathering? Watch these videos featuring women sharing why coming to SPEAK UP! is important to them and their communities.


World Pulse Speakers 2014

The Women of World Pulse Live

World Pulse Speakers 2014

Sep 21-Oct 3

NEW YORK CITYSocial Good Summit
September 21
Register Here!

Clinton Global
Initiative Mixer

September 22
By Invitation Only.


Experience the Pulse
September 25
Register Here!

City Club of Portland
September 26
Registration Opening Soon

International Women’s Forum—Oregon Chapter 
September 26
By invitation only.


Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) Workshop
September 30
By invitation only.

Learn more and register »

BWR.Final_Black_Women_in_the_US_2014Report Cover

Black Women’s Roundtable Assesses the State of Black Women in the U.S.



Contributors to Black Women’s Roundtable report, Black Women in the U.S., 2014 stop for a photo during the BWR Summit kick-off at the National Council of Negro Women headquarters. Pictured (L-R):Dr. L. Toni Lewis, SEIU Healthcare; Joycelyn Tate, Telecom Talk; Melanie L. Campbell, Black Women’s Roundtable; Felicia Davis, Building Green Network; Avis Jones-DeWeever, PhD, Incite Unlimited; Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Ph.D.; and Carol Joyner, Labor Project for Working Families. PHOTO CREDIT: CIT-VISUALS

Get the Report!
BWR.Final_Black_Women_in_the_US_2014Report Cover