Black girls are still winning!
These Black women are named Glamour Magazine’s 2021 Women of the Year.
23-year-old Amanda Gorman has also been named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year for a second time. The young poet was named College Woman of the Year by Glamour in 2018, even before she made history as the youngest Inaugural poet in U.S. history. Since then, she’s had many more historic accomplishments, becoming the first poet to perform at the Super Bowl, the first poet to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine, signing with IMG models, and even announcing her plan to run for President in 2036.
Still, Gorman says she has to remind herself that she’s doing well and doesn’t have to live up to any expectations except for the ones she sets for herself.
Amanda Gorman. Photo Courtesy of Shaniqwa Jarvis
“I’ve had a crash course in confidence-building. I think when it started, I was so nervous, so unsure of myself, and just so insecure if I could be the role model that I think so many purport me to be. Can I live up to this pressure? Can I live up to this kind of idealized Amanda? I’ve learned that it’s not about living up to external expectations of myself but living into the values and the principles that I hold most dear. That’s all I can ask of myself. I had a moment last night where I was thinking to myself, ‘Actually, Amanda, you’re doing a good job, kid,'” Gorman said.
Three voting rights advocates that Glamour calls “The Goddesses of Democracy” were also honored: New Georgia Project CEO Nsé Ufot, Black Voters Matter Fund co-founder LaTosha Brown, and executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda Helen Butler.
When Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock were elected to the United States Senate in 2021, it effectively secured Democratic control over the chamber. This outcome was made possible by the grassroots efforts of Black women who advocated for voter registration in their communities and ensured turnout at the polls. Afterwards, Republican-led state legislatures fought tooth and nail to pass discriminatory voting laws that impede citizens’ constitutional rights to vote. They created limits on voter eligibility and even made it a crime in Georgia to pass out snacks and water to voters who may have to wait in line. Still, women like Ufot, Brown, and Butler have continued to fight to defend democracy by any means necessary. For them, organizing voting rights is just a small part of the larger fight for a better world.
LaTosha Brown. Photo Courtesy of Melissa Alexander
“I keep telling people that my work is not about elections. It’s about, How are we going to restore or reclaim our humanity? And for me, voting is an expression of that. Every single human being should have a right to have some input on decisions made about their lives, and so I fundamentally believe that to the core of my being. I want the world to be better,” said Brown.
Ufot agreed, saying that the work they’re doing is revolutionary, but they still have a long way to go.
“I think one of the things that has stuck with me throughout the course of my career and my organizing is the idea that we need to practice revolutionary democracy in every aspect of our organizing…I feel like – there is a danger for people who are marginally in the work or tangentially related to the work, to claim easy victories. That’s why you will never hear me say that Georgia is a blue state, because we’re not there yet, right? We got a lot of work to do,” Ufot said.
Helen Butler. Photo Courtesy of Melissa Alexander
For Butler, it’s about inspiring people to be active in their freedom, encouraging the community to take charge and demand the change they want to see.
“We got to also become engaged. Run for office. Offer yourself to be that change agent. Don’t rely on someone else to do it for you. Do that. And more importantly, research information that comes across your path because all of this misinformation and disinformation does no one any good. Be engaged in this process. You can be that difference,” said Butler.
Nsé Ufot. Photo Courtesy of Melissa Alexander
The women said they plan to keep fighting the good fight and maintaining as much joy as possible in themselves and the world. They want to keep being transparent about how daunting yet fulfilling the work is to keep securing victories in Georgia. It is the collective efforts of many, not the individual actions of a few, that are helping to truly transform democracy.
“We are honest about the challenges and the difficulties so that when we win – because we will win – people will know how hard it was, people will know how we got there, and the results of our efforts can be duplicated, can be replicated in other places and at other times,” Ufot added.
Megan Thee Stallion. Photo Courtesy of Kennedi Carter
26-year-old Megan Pete is a Houston, Texas native who burst onto the hip hop scene with bold lyrics, chart-topping collaborations, and a fierce women empowerment movement of “hotties.” This year at the Grammys, she made history as only the second woman rapper to take home the best new artist award since Lauryn Hill in 1999 and has continued to set the bar, musically and otherwise. Megan proves she’s coming for everything she deserves, from her partnership with Popeyes and becoming a franchise owner to her upcoming fall 2021 graduation from Prairie View A&M.
Despite her successes, she’s experienced a lot of loss in a short time, crediting all of her success to her mother and great-grandmother, who both passed away within two weeks in 2019 when Megan’s star was starting to shine.
“They always taught me self-love. They always gave me such high praise. I could be doing the smallest things, [and they would be like,] ‘Oh, my God, Megan, you tied your shoes so well!'”
The love and affirmation she received from her foremothers keeps her grounded as she continues to put on for the city of Houston. Recently, Megan partnered with Popeyes to make a six-figure donation to Houston-based non-profit Random Acts of Kindness, which uses kind gestures to spread community empathy, compassion, and care.
The rapper says it is this type of work that she plans to continue doing and using her platform for, advocating for Black women, encouraging the “hotties” to go to college, and inspiring unapologetic boldness in women. Megan says she’s doing it not out of duty or obligation but simply because it’s what makes her happy, and she hopes more people do the same.
“In life now, I’m just walking around here doing whatever I want to, and I had to learn. It doesn’t matter how that makes other people feel because I’m not going to be with none of y’all. I’m not looking at y’all when I wake up in the morning. I’m not looking at you in the mirror. I have to do things that make me feel good from the inside out,” she said.
Congratulations to all of Glamour’s 2021 Women of the Year! Because of you, we can!
Photos Courtesy of Kennedi Carter/Melissa Alexander/Shaniqwa Jarvis