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'Run The World' Is The Ode To Black Women, Black Culture, And Black Love We All Need

From the fashion and Harlem backdrop, to the sex and quality drama, it's a refreshing must-see.

Culture & Entertainment

This article is in partnership with Starz.

Listen. We all love a good rerun of Sex and the City, but the ghosts of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda can go ahead and rest. There's finally a new, formidable foursome further uptown—Harlem that is—and they've taken the fashion, sex, and sister-girlfriend drama to entertainingly engaging new levels. Trust me, Starz's new series Run the World is the ode to Black femininity, friendship, and NYC flavor we all need right now. And if you haven't been tuned in on Sunday nights at 8:30 p.m., you're truly missing out.


The series features women we can all either relate to, live vicariously through, or maybe even side eye, wondering where our coin is because at least one sis is us. Ella is a sexy, Caesar-cut rocking writer (played by Andrea Bordeaux) who begins the season mourning love lost and stumbling through a career renewal. Sondi (played by Corbin Reid) is a Ph.D. student who serves Cree Summer-in-A-Different-World-edgy realness, while juggling school and an entanglement with her single-dad advisor.

Rebecca Smythe (Starz Entertainment)

Whitney is an elegant yet aloof banker (played by Amber Stevens West) prepping for a massive Nigerian wedding after cheating on her fiance. (And that's reason enough to continue watching if not just to see the festivities unfold. If you know, you know.) And last but certainly not least is Renee (played by Bresha Webb), a feisty-fiery soon-to-be-divorced marketing exec who unapologetically serves as the tell-it-like-it-is voice of ratchet reason in the group.

It's The Quality For Us

Rebecca Smythe (Starz Entertainment)

This is the Living Single of today's generation, packed full of quality cinematography, storylines that actually make sense in a city setting, cameos by real-life staples of the Harlem nightlife and restaurant scenes (that will make you forget how long you've been self-isolating), and sexcapades that spark memories of what it was like to have an active dating life that went beyond sexting, quarantine loving, and weird dating app rendezvous. There's not a badly styled or poorly-sourced wig in sight, no disjointed plot lines to sort through, and hardly any saucy, overly dramatic dialogue or fight scenes, so you're in for just good, solid TV with this one.

Speaking of Living Single, Erika Alexander makes an appearance, playing Barb, the chic, no-nonsense boss of Ella. She brings the same ambitious, savvy, youthful spunk to the role as she did with Maxine.

Sex, Some Good Sex, and More... Well Sex

Rebecca Smythe (Starz Entertainment)

Oh, and let's not forget the foine (yes, F-O-I-N-E) men who add the perfect dose of masculinity and tainted romance to the mix. Whitney's debonair Nigerian doctor bae, Ola, is played by Tosin Morohunfola, Renee's soon-to-be ex, Jason, is played by the chocolate goodness that is Jay Walker, and the naughty zaddy professor, is played by Stephen Bishop. (Remember him from the luscious situationship in Being Mary Jane? Yes, sis. Him.)

Ella's handsomely clever boo, Anderson, (played by Nick Sagar) represents that irresistible guy we all put in the "It's Complicated" file, who uses mysterious charm, a smirk buoyed by a good set of immaculately white teeth, and some amazing bedroom moves to keep us coming back for more when we shouldn't. These men don't disappoint, especially when it comes to sex and eye candy, and if you want a sense of what the sensuous scenes are like, these sistas are gettin' it in like Issa and Nola.

Serving Looks and Harlem Vibes

Rebecca Smythe (Starz Entertainment)

Social commentary on subjects including sexism, gender roles, Karens, and upward mobility is peppered in without beating you in the head and ruining the escapism factor, of course. You'll also get chats about white dicks vs. Black ones, motherhood vs. the rich auntie life, and married life vs. gloriously-single-and-loving-it in a way that feels like you're just eavesdropping at a good Sunday brunch. And we can't talk a good Black female-driven dram-com set in NYC without mentioning fashion. You've got pieces from favs LaQuan Smith and Hanifa that spark all the good feels of getting up and showing out for the streets.

The mix of luxe door-knockers, brightly-hued furs, alluring silks, beautiful ankara prints, and strappy heels is absolutely everything when paired with the landscape of 116th Street's landmark African market, the expansive wall murals and monuments on and around 125th Street, the yummy sights and smells of spots like Red Rooster, Shrine, and Yatenga, the lushness of Marcus Garvey Park, and the grand historic architecture of Harlem's walk-up brownstones.

Don't Call It A Remake

Rebecca Smythe (Starz Entertainment)

But don't get it twisted. While there are comparisons being made to other girlfriend-centered shows of years past, this one offers its own fresh, updated take on dating, sex, and friendship that ensures you know you're in 2021, and there's a contemporary maturity to the show that allows it to hold its own. This isn't just a revamped, been-there-done-that remake of something you've already seen—and probably still stream for nostalgia's sake—before.

Run the World offers a refreshing slice of uptown Manhattan life featuring imagery of Black women, vibrant Black culture, and captivating Black love that reignites the senses and perfectly reflects a spicy semi-utopia of normalcy we all hope to return to—in real life—sometime sooner than later.

Catch Run the World on Sundays on Starz and the Starz App.

Featured image courtesy of Rebecca Smythe (Starz Entertainment)

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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