I vividly recall my mother implying that TV couldn’t teach me much of anything, but in reality, we know that representation teaches us a lot! It empowers us and highlights diverse ways of Black life (more so in recent television history) that vary from traditional to not so traditional – though this makes the impact no less real. Television shows like P-Valley highlight the importance of human decency over respectability politics, while other shows allow us to see the value in falling through life with our awkwardness.
Because it is so rare that we women, much less Black women get to view shows where we are the leads and in a meaningful way – I wanted to put together a list of shows that showcase the beauty in Black personhood.
Admittedly creating this list was difficult in the sense that there is a limited amount of Black series on TV at any given time period, thus requiring me to rely on older televisions as I attempted to give you a list of new shows featuring empowering women. Although feeling and being empowered means something different to everyone, I have no doubt that these 11 Black shows bring some sense of the world to life for most viewers.
Just as the theme song says, P-Valley is all about women who grind harder than the men in their world. They get it by any means necessary because sometimes that’s just what’s required of us in the world we live in. Additionally, these dancers showcase artistry that we don’t talk about quite enough when it comes to pole dancing as they unapologetically move through life at The Pynk.
2.I May Destroy You
Arabella (Michaela Coel) is a sexual assault survivor, who like so many others, is forced to put her life back together as the events of that evening come back to her. For this particular character, putting her life back together means reevaluating and recreating! We get to watch as she does so while surviving a devastating and violent act against her on what should’ve been a fun night out.
3.Blood and Water
After making a new connection, a young woman is convinced that a swimming star is her sister who was abducted when she was a child. This prompts her to investigate on her own even when met with concern and pushback. Blood and Water is a South African teen crime drama that pulls you in with intrigue and the search for the truth and performances that make you hungry for more.
Of course, Insecurewas going to make the list! Though the show may seem to miss the mark on empowerment early on while the main character is still struggling to stand in her truth. Nevertheless, this show depicts an amazing arc for character development (with the main character, Issa played by Issa Rae). I’d also say that she empowers us awkward girls to navigate the world as is.
This period piece focuses on the happenings of the 80s and early 90s through ball culture. A movement made for and by Black queer people who needed a safe haven when the rest of the world saw them as outcasts, Posenavigates the way that ball culture empowered those on the scene to remain optimistic and fight back in the midst of an ever-changing and chaotic world. We live with the cast through historical moments such as the HIV epidemic and the Stonewall Riots, amongst their many other day-to-day revelations.
Admittedly, due to the intended demographic, Grown-ish not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s without a doubt for teens transitioning to young adulthood, maybe those who watched Black-ish, and those new adults (not the seasoned vets) who like to reminisce on their (recent but distant) college experience.
In this series, we get to finish growing up with Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi)! Though she is 18, we navigate all the young dumb shit she does along her side, remembering what it was like trying to find ourselves and simply exist in this new world. We watch as Zoey becomes more empowered to stand in her adultness and the decisions that will impact her the most.
After growing up in an extremely strict household, Tracey (Michaela Coel) is determined to come into her womanhood – whatever that means! Inspired by mainstream culture, she taps into her inner Beyoncé as she navigates trying to make a connection to her sexuality.
8.She’s Gotta Have It
Follow Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise), a jack of all trades when it comes to her sexual identity, while she digs deep to figure out what it really is that she wants out of both herself and her lover. Things can get pretty complicated when you’re a woman in this world making your own rules, but Darling is determined to remain true to herself through and through… even if it’s a bit unsettling to others in her life. For that reason, She's Gotta Have It's lead definitely makes this list.
9.Power Book III: Raising Kanan
Whether you followed the rest of the Power franchise or not, this show is a must-watch. In the series, Raquel "Raq" Thomas (Patina Miller) is a young mother who learns to do more than survive – she learns to thrive the best way she knows how – in the jungle that is early 90s New York City. Cutthroat as they come, she’s put in a precarious situation when she can’t keep her overly ambitious son out of the world she created around them. Though the main character of the show is her son, Kanan (Mekai Curtis) – to know Raq is to know Kanan!
10.Dear White People
In Dear White People, the main character, Sam (Logan Browning), will do nothing short of calling out white supremacy as she sees it throughout her collegiate experience. However, as a biracial person, this sometimes means pausing to look at her own blindspots as she navigates her personal experience of Blackness.
Though it irks me to no end that Queen Sugar tends to take such long and inconsistent hiatuses, this list can’t be complete without speaking to the empowering nature of the Bordelon women. Strong-willed, vulnerable, and determined to be the individuals they were truly meant to be in this lifetime for the sake of family and their hometown in Louisiana, we see those personalities clash time and time again. However, when they come together, it’s an endearing experience to watch.
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Motor City native, Atlanta living. Sagittarius. Writer. Sexpert. Into all things magical, mystical, and unknown. I'll try anything at least once but you knew that the moment I revealed that I was a Sag.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
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