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14 Of The World's Most Flawless Black Women

2014 may have been a rough year, but black women were still bad as hell.

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Everyone (read: strangers on tumblr) knows that 2014 was the official year of the black girl. Black women are some of the most vulnerable yet powerful people on that planet. (And yes, I know that women of all colors and creeds are incredible). But for right now I want to take a moment to celebrate a few of the most empowering, brave, and fierce black women and girls in the world.

1. Quvenzhané Wallis

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First up (and the youngest on this list) is the relentlessly adorable and unquestionably talented Quvenzhané Wallis. After becoming the youngest person to be nominated for an Oscar with her spellbinding debut role as Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild, this little firecracker is at it again, garnering a Golden Globe nomination for her groundbreaking title role in the reboot of Annie. As if that weren't enough, she also knows how to rock a puppy purse.

2. Kara Walker

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This year Kara Walker made headlines with "A Subtlety," her powerful study of the complicated history and politics surrounding black female bodies. A lot of people completely missed the point, but she took every reaction and ill-conceived selfie and released a film titled "An Audience", footage for which she had been secretly capturing for months.

3. Ava DuVernay


Ms. DuVernay's eerily timely film Selma has been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture (Drama) and Best Director. This marks the first time in history that a black female director has been nominated for the award, and stirs up the already lively Oscar buzz. You can watch the powerful trailer here. Although she had already begun to make a name for herself in Hollywood (she directed one of my favorite Scandal episodes, "Vermont is for Lovers, Too") the Christmas Day release of Selma is really going to put her on the map. Go head, girl.

4. Amma Asante

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When I saw Belle last year at the Athena Film Festival, I instantly fell in love. Ms. Asante had created a film that little black girls everywhere had only dreamed of -- an Austenian romance starring someone who looked like them. Amma Asante, a glamorous woman with a posh British accent, is a former actress who began her writing career at 23, and was first launched into the limelight with her 2004 BAFTA Award-winning film A Way of Life. She's also slated to direct Warner Brothers' upcoming thriller Unforgettable, starring Kerry Washington and Kate Hudson.

5. Audra McDonald

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Audra has more talent in her pinky toe than most people have in their entire bodies. With her superb acting and heart-rending vocals, she could shine in even the most unimaginative Broadway revival (I'm looking at you The Sound of Music). This year, she shattered records by winning her sixth Tony for absolutely killing it as Billie Holiday in Lady Day. Everyone will have the opportunity to be #blessed by Audra's glory when HBO releases a special version of the show recorded at New Orleans' Cafe Brazil.

6. Mo'Ne Davis

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This girl is incredible. Not only is she an amazing pitcher and one of only two girls to ever play in the Little League World Series (and the first girl to pitch a shut-out game in the Series), but she also doesn't even consider baseball her best sport. She's doing for aspiring baseballers what Dominique Dawes did for gymnasts, and even inspiring those of us who are athletically inept.

7. Brittney Griner

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WNBA player Brittney Griner has certainly had a year of ups and downs. She became the first openly gay athlete to be endorsed by Nike, an important step in the right direction for an industry notorious for its homophobia. She also got engaged to her longtime girlfriend and Tulsa Shock forward Glory Johnson in a real life twist on Love and Basketball. But Brittney also faced difficulties, dealing with feelings of isolation as she plays in China, and even dealt with a frightening (but thankfully not-too-serious) knife attack on her and her teammates back in November. Here's to a 2015 filled with more slam dunks than fouls, Brittney.

8. The Tireless Female Leaders of Ferguson, New York, and Beyond

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There are so many women on the forefront of the protests that have taken the country by storm. "Tireless" isn't quite the right word. They are tired, exhausted, hurt, unable to breathe. But yet, women on the front lines, like Millions March NYC leaders Umaara Elliott and Synead Nichols, refuse to stand down. Despite living in a world that so often erases our identities and devalues our worth, black women have been invaluable in the fight to protect #allblacklives. Hannah Giorgis wrote this great breakdown of young female activists for The Guardian.

9. Fatu Kekula

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Fatu Kekula singlehandedly saved her family members from Ebola. Amidst dire conditions and during one of the deadliest epidemics in recent years, 22-year-old Fatu was able to care for four infected family members (three of which survived) without infecting herself. Without access to the proper equipment, Kekula used her medical knowledge (she is a nursing student) to fashion protective gear out of trash bags. Her story is certainly bittersweet, as her young nephew did not survive, and so many thousands have lost loved ones to the disease. Even so, Ms. Kekula will be finishing her nursing degree at Emory University in Atlanta, and you can help support her here.

10. Janet Mock


Actress, author, and activist Janet Mock is one of the most visible advocates for trans* rights and representation. This year Ms. Mock released her groundbreaking memoir Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More to great critical acclaim. She frequently speaks out about the anti-trans* violence that is still rampant and widely ignored in the U.S, and beautifully shut down Katie Couric's (and A LOT of other peoples') obsession with her goodies. Plus, Janet just got engaged to longtime photographer beau Aaron Tredwell! Congrats, girl.

11. Stacey Abrams


Georgia House Minority Leader and Georgia State Representative Stacey Abrams is the first woman to lead either party of the General Assembly and the first African-American to lead in the state House. Committed to loosening the Republican stronghold on the state, she has put much of her focus on reforming the legislature and pushing progressive policy. This year she founded the controversial New Georgia Project, with the ultimate goal of registering 800,000 voters of color, which “would sway election results in dynamic and progressive ways,” and serve as a template for other Southern states. This year, Ms. Abrams received the first ever Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award, which was created to honor women who exemplify everything exceptional about American public servants.

12. Kimberley Motley


Kimberley Motley is an American lawyer who opened a private practice in Kabul, Afghanistan after initially signing up for a 9-month legal-education program to train Afghan lawyers. She now spends about 6 months of the year there, regularly taking on human rights cases, especially in the defense of young women and girls. She is the only Westerner currently practicing law in Kabul, and continues to fight for humanity, despite death threats, accusations of running a brothel, and even being detained. You can check out her Ted talk (which was broadcast as part of NPR's "Courage" Ted Radio Hour) here. [Trigger Warning: the video contains a short but graphic description of violence against a young girl.] Kimberley Motley is the kind of litigator that we wish all lawyers could be.

13. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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A brilliant writer and activist, Chimamanda has grappled with the label "feminist" long before being featured in the now ubiquitous speech from "***Flawless." Already a force to be reckoned with in literature, academia, and beyond, she is now beginning to delve into film. After Half of a Yellow Sun, the film adaptation of her critically acclaimed novel was released last year, her second novel, Americanah is slated to be made into a movie starring Hollywood darling Lupita Nyong'o and Selma's David Oyelowo.

14. Queen B

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This list wouldn't be complete without Her Majesty Beyoncé Gisele Knowles-Carter. I know many people (aka haters) are tired of hearing about her greatness. But come on! She dropped a secret album (nearly killing her stans with the ferocity of it), launched an incredible tour, and released one of the best remixes ever.

(Side note: I listened to ***Flawless on repeat last winter during finals, and it strengthened my life-force, thereby allowing me to pass my classes and graduate college. This is not hyperbole.)

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