Women of Color Who Rocked In 2018: Politcs, Beauty & a Duchess

by Charlotte Smith

A WOC’s biggest Question ‘ Am I good enough?’

As 2018 comes to an end I bought a copy of Michelle Obama’s book Becoming.  I was commuting to my digital 9-5 job when I passed the bookstore and saw Michelle’s smiling face talking to me. This was a good reason to be a few minutes late for work. Women of colour are always in need of heroes.

After a rigid year, I needed my fingers on real paper and some reading time. As I start to read the pages I find out the former first lady and I have a lot in common.  Many of the women who made history this year are also in the group of women who were the only brown face in the room and may have been whispered about or told to our faces, ‘Why do you sound like a white girl?’

When Michelle described her such moment she had me hooked.  The story of my life, people being surprised after they meet me in person, that I am a coloured girl, with a name like Charlotte, who speaks correctly, has manners, speaks several languages and is educated. This is why I have been stared at on the tube while reading.  While I crack and smile and underlined quotes. It is refreshing to have a hero who looks, acts and talks like me. This year I had a plethora of #JUSTLIKEME moments.  Michele Obama is just one of the topping a long list. Why is it still so rare to for women of colour to be included?

 

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That’s a wrap! When I think about all the people who have come out to our events over these past few weeks, I think about a little working-class kid named Michelle LaVaughn Robinson—an ordinary girl who had some tales to tell, some failures and some successes, too. She had a lot to learn, a lot to experience, a lot to give—more than she ever could have imagined. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my story lately, and what I keep coming back to is that no matter where we came from, we all share so much. People of all backgrounds, skin colors, and political persuasions can relate to feeling uncertain or overwhelmed. We’ve all been a little frustrated by the slow, frustrating growth necessary to get where we want to go. We’ve all struggled with the balancing act that can take over days, years, or decades of our lives. And I want us all to remember that these are the moments and lessons that make us who we are — every little twist and turn, every little bump and bruise, and ultimately every joys and every triumph, no matter how large or small. So I hope all of you believe in your story. I hope you recognize that what you see as a weakness might actually be a strength. I hope you recognize the power of your voice. And I hope you remind yourself that there isn’t one right way to be an American. There isn’t one way to make your contribution in this country. So thank you all for your part of our story. Thank you for being who you are. And to everyone who’s read my memoir, or come to one of our events, or posted something online, thank you for being on this journey with me. Thank you for helping me continue to become. I hope my story can serve as a boost in your own process of becoming, too. I love you all. #IAmBecoming

A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on

The US Elections

According to the New York Times, “more than a quarter of all the candidates that ran this year were female, including 84 women of colour — a 42% increase from just two years ago.” Out of this diverse cohort of candidates, many won big on election night, making history. When a female POC decides to run for office it is like an obstacle course for her.  Women of colour often face more roadblocks and a lack of institutional support than their white counterparts. But that didn’t stop an extraordinary number of candidates of colour from throwing their hats into the ring this last election season.

Many of them were victorious in their bids, therefore paving the way for upcoming generations to follow their path and helping make our elected officials look a little bit more like the face of America. Many of us dream of Michelle Obama running, but after reading a few pages of her book, it does not seem likely. She likes her freedom and not having to dress like a presidents wife anymore. Balenciaga down better than any fashion influencer on the streets of fashion week.

Minnesota State legislator Peggy Flanagan is the Lieutenant Governor-elect of Minnesota. Her election on November 6, 2018, made her the second Native American woman to ever be elected to state-wide executive office in U.S. history. She is the highest-ranking elected Native woman in the country.  Yes, my Native American sister!

The Women of Color Peggy Flanagan

Native American Women In Politics

Deb Haaland is another Native American female politician from New Mexico, elected to Congress on November 6, 2018. She is a former Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. She the first Native American woman in Congress.  Paulette Jordan will be the nation’s first Native American governor.

Muslim  & Latina American Women In Politics

Rashida Tlaib is a Palestinian-American woman, a lawyer who won Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, making her the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to Congress. January Contreras is the new Arizona attorney general and first Latina elected to the office.  Ilhan Abdullahi Omar the Somali American politician from Minnesota. In January Omar, a Democrat will assume office in January, sharing with Rashida Tlaib the historic distinction of being the first Muslim women elected to the US Congress., making her the first Somali American elected to legislative office in the United States.  The 36-year-old politician, who will assume office in January, hopes her remarkable story can inspire the next generation. In Texas’s recent primaries, two Democratic Latina women — former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar and State Sen. Sylvia Garcia of Houston — won in open congressional races and are in winnable, Democratic-leaning districts, possibly positioning them to win those seats outright in November.

Women of colour showed up to vote and support each other and the Latina community proved it.  Latina women, whom, according to a Scholar’s Strategy Network study, are more often the “catalysts of political change, the ones who take the lead in mobilizing families and communities,” are mobilized to vote.  This shows why the story of women like Rigoberta Menchú blood and spirit runs through many of us Latina women.

As Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to U.S. Congress and the first black candidate to run for a major party’s nomination for president of the United States, once said, “At present, our country needs women’s idealism and determination, perhaps more in politics than anywhere else.”

Women of Color Ilhan-Omar

Politics, Beauty & A Princess

Now the WOC beauty industry big bucks.   Rihanna and Pat McGrath are hip to the insights are want to cater to all their girls in the rainbow.  The beauty industry is going through a metamorphosis – a change evidently visible in our millennial age. But how far has it truly progressed?

Until recently  WOC’s were seen as a downmarket demographic, or else not seen at all. The rise of social media platforms like Instagram has given a voice to those who have difficulty being heard. It has allowed us to make the industry see women of colour active consumers, rather than idle wannabees.  Although many reputable beauty brands have attempted to cater for Women of Colour (WoC), it is only in recent years that WoC has started to spearhead the industry, pushing their way to the front. Thank you, Rihanna, Pat McGrath, and Iman for bossing up and take the industry by the balls.   For a long time now, WOC has found it extremely difficult to find affordable drugstore products that cater to our skin type. It has always been a struggle to find a high-street brand that takes into consideration our different undertones, textures, and hues, and that stocks more than one variation of Caramel.

With the launch and rise of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, black women are refusing to be seen as an add-on, but rather a collective part of the beauty industry. By introducing 40 shades of foundation, Fenty has provided ‘beauty for all’. Rihanna’s choice to create products that include women on both ends of the colour spectrum is how she has successfully ‘pushed the boundaries of this industry.’

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna - Rihanna Makeup Line Perfect for all Shades

Fenty’s acknowledgement and celebration of diversity is an appreciation that is rarely seen in the beauty industry and has forced other brands to admit their failure to adequately represent WoC.  The notion that darker shades are unprofitable has proven to be a false claim made by an inherently racist industry.  Models of colour working the fashion scene are tired of showing up to a fashion who or on set and the makeup artist does not have there shade. Pat McGrath knows he tails personally.  With the help of black beauty bloggers and influencers, we are now offered a (reluctant) seat at the table. Ultimately beauty bloggers provide digital marketing for brands, and consequently, WoC is now necessary to gain economical capital. Although Fenty, Glossier and IMAN Cosmetics encompass real inclusivity, it is feigned in much of the remaining industry. It seems that only when those who reign supreme decide black is beautiful or in this case ‘popular’ and ‘topical’, does it receive the recognition that it should have had over a century ago. It is estimated that African-American women spend $7.5 billion annually on beauty products. This unrequited love for the industry demonstrates that no matter how much commitment and support WoC exhibit, the industry just refuses to show it back.

The Duchess

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex made many of us give up a beautiful Saturday afternoon, to let us dream that a story of a royal princess is real. We live in a new world, where girls like us do big things. Meghan like the women above have their own stories to tell and share. Meghan Markle a mixed raced actress, a divorcee from California became a duchess and is having a baby in 2019. Who’ says dreams don’t come true?

Jenny From the Block

Will the beauty industry take note in 2019?  Maybe we will finally see Jennifer Lopez as the face of makeup brand and not only her perfume.  She makes being 49 looking good that is why we could not keep her off the list either. The more the merrier! The dancer, singer, actress, and director she shows us another way to boss up in 2019.  Give it your best, you are good enough and how to earn your right to sit at the table.  Today Latin artists are one of the biggest markets in 2018 that the Luxury designers chased to have seated in the front row at shows!


These women show us we do belong.  We have a voice and have to work harder than anyone to get there.  Our voices are heard! Time to Boss up Ladies or go home!  If you have not read the Michelle Obama book go get it!

Happy New Year!

 

 

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