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7 Products You May Not Have Known Were Created By Black Women

The magical genius of Black women knows no bounds.

Human Interest

In celebrating Women’s History Month, it is important that we shed light on Black women who have changed our lives with one invention at a time. Just take a look around you. There are products in your household and outside your household that you depend on daily that were invented by a Black woman.


And while school history books may have neglected to inform you just how magical Black women are, stay tuned as we share seven inventions that came from the genius minds of Black women. From hairbrushes to central heating, Black women are responsible for making certain aspects of our lives better.

So before you take these simple pleasures for granted, read below and thank the Black woman inventors today.

1.Home Security

Feel safe at home? You have a Black woman to thank for that. Marie Van Brittan Brown invented what is now home security. She and her husband Albert Brown were able to get a patent in 1969 for their original design which included a camera, peepholes, a two-way mic, and an alarm. A modern version of the security system can be likened to the Ring camera.

2.Improved Menstrual Pad

While menstrual pads had already been around, Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner’s tweak to the feminine product made it revolutionary. In 1954, Mary invented an adjustable belt to the pad and a moisture-proof pocket. And while the new and improved sanitary napkin was widely used, it was the game-changing adhesive strip added to the bottom of the pad to attach it to the underwear that is still being used today.

3.Hairbrush

In 1898, Lyda D. Newman was the first person to get a patent for the hairbrush after she made changes to the original design by featuring synthetic bristles. Lyda’s design also had spaces between rows that made it easier to clean and it even featured a button on the back that could be opened for cleaning. The original hairbrushes were made of animal hair and so Lyda’s patented brush made them less expensive and easier to manufacture.

4.GIFs

In a world of texting and social media, GIFs have become a popular way to communicate with one another. Computer scientist Lisa Gelobter must have had the foresight into today’s world as she is responsible for the animation behind GIFs. Another fun fact about Lisa is that she created the video technology behind the popular streaming network Hulu.

5.Central Heating

Next time you get up to turn your heater on in your home, thank Alice H. Parker. This inventor created central heating by using a natural gas-fueled furnace in 1919, a time when homes depended on firewood and coals that were concentrated to certain parts in the home.

6.Ironing Board

In April 1892, Sarah Boone changed the way we iron after she patented an improved design to the ironing board. The ironing board was originally created by McCoy, but Sarah’s improvement made it easier to iron women’s clothing such as dresses with its narrow and curved design.

7.The Fruit Press

Juicing is a popular way to get the health benefits we need to nourish our bodies, but did you know that the first fruit press was made by a Black woman? In April 1916, Madeline Turner received a patent after creating the first machine to extract juice from some of our favorite fruits. So, it’s safe to say, she was also the first to have the juice.

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The emergence of a week-long tension headache told me that I needed to figure out a way to minimize and relieve my stress. In addition to daily magnesium supplements and meditation, I also found myself wanting to orgasm (the health benefits are hard to ignore) and do so at least every other day.

I was determined to set the mood and engage in some erotic self-focus by way of masturbation, and I wanted to do so with a little more variety than my wand vibrator provides. My commitment to almost daily masturbation was affirmed even further with the arrival of what would become my new favorite sex toy, the viral Lovers’ Thump & Thrust Dual Vibrator.

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If there is one artist who has had a very successful and eventful year so far it’s Mary J. Blige. The “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” shut down the 2022 Super Bowl Half-time show along with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and Eminem, she also performed at NBA All-Star weekend and now she is being honored as one of Time's most influential people of 2022.

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These days it seems that we’re all trying to heal from childhood wounds, and though I’m a big advocate for cutting people off – family included – I’ve come to learn how challenging that actually is. But also, it’s not always necessary if you have a parent who is open and committed to doing the healing work along with you, a mother, for example, who is receptive to her truth. But this also means you are receptive to the reality that parents are humans who often take cake crumbs from their parents and so on. It’s not to say that you have to accept piss-poor treatment because they’re human, but if any of us are going to embark upon a healing journey, we must acknowledge even the difficult truths.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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