#ThrowbackThursday: Lauryn Hill Wins Album of the Year Grammy Award, 1999

Lauryn Hill, Grammys 1999 (The Drop FM)

Lauryn Hill, Grammys 1999 (The Drop FM)

When Lauryn Hill’s album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” was released in 1998, it instantly became #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and set a record for “first-week sales by a female artist.”

Hill won Album of the Year for “Miseducation” at the 1999 Grammy Awards. The album also won four other awards; it had been nominated for 10 Grammys. Hill set another record that night both with her number of wins and nominations.

Hill was the last black woman to win the Grammy for Album of the Year.

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Beyonce Is the Highest Paid Woman in Music for 2017

Beyonce performs at the Grammy Awards, 2017 (Billboard)

Beyonce performs at the Grammy Awards, 2017 (Billboard)

No surprise here: Superstar/icon/QUEEN Beyonce was ranked the highest-paid woman in music for 2017 by “Forbes” for their annual Highest Paid Women in Music list. Beyonce earned $105M (!!!) in pre-tax income.

Here’s how “Forbes” arrived at this number:

We looked at pretax income from June 1, 2016 through June 1, 2017, and did not take out fees charged by agents, managers and lawyers. We gathered data from Nielsen SoundScan, Pollstar, the RIAA and interviews with industry insiders.

Beyonce has had one hell of a streak. She released her popular and critically acclaimed album “Lemonade” in April 2016. “Lemonade” handily become her sixth #1 album. Beyonce’s Formation world tour (which occurred during the timeframe) netted her “a quarter of a billion dollars.”

In personal news, she also took some time off to give birth to her twins Rumi and Sir. It’s safe to say that she would’ve earned even more without the break.

Beyonce’s earnings put her far ahead of the pack: The second-highest-paid woman in music was Adele, who earned $69M during the measured timeframe.

 

Meghan Markle is Engaged to Prince Harry

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (E! Online)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (E! Online)

It’s finally happening! Former “Suits” actress Meghan Markle got engaged to her boyfriend Price Harry (heard of him?), and they announced their engagement a week ago. The two attended a photocall in the morning at Kensington Palance’s Sunken Garden, and sat down for an televised interview revealing more details with the BBC later that day.

This engagement is big for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it’s breaking barriers: Markle will be the first biracial person (and first biracial woman) to join the royal family. (Markle’s mother is Doria Ragland, an African-American woman, and her father is Thomas Markle, who is Caucasian. Markle self-identifies as a “strong, confident mixed-race woman.”) Many are excited because Markle will be the first “Black Princess” (though technically she’s more likely to end up with a Duchess title), but there are more nuances to the situation. “Elle” has a a great piece where 16 Black women aired their reactions to the engagement news; it’s well worth reading in full, so go check it out!

The engagement is also a powerful step towards revolutionizing the British monarchy and the public’s perception thereof. Princes Harry and William have spoken out about their mental health and its importance, and seem to want to make the monarchy more progressive. Along with the fact that Prince Harry will be marrying a biracial woman, he’ll also be marrying a divorcee: Markle was previously married to film producer Trevor Engelson from 2011 to 2013. The last time a British royal married a divorced woman, he had to abdicate the throne. This happened in 1937 when the Duke of Windsor married Wallis Simpson, which caused quite a scandal.

One thing is for sure: this engagement is hurtling the British royal family into the 21st century. As “The New York Times” puts it:

With one heady announcement, it seems, Harry and Ms. Markle have thrown out generations’ worth of quietly repressed tradition and presented a new royal model to a country that will have to adjust to it, whether it wants to or not.

 

The Academy’s New Class is 39% Female and 30% POC

Priyanka Chopra, Donald Glover, Naomie Harris, and John Cho (The Hollywood Reporter)

Priyanka Chopra, Donald Glover, Naomie Harris, and John Cho (The Hollywood Reporter)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently announced its new class of members. The 2017 class numbers 744, which is a new record. This breaks the 2016 number of invitees at 683, which had previously held the record.

This new class might also hold the distinction of being the most diverse (so far). Of the 744 members, 39% are women and 30% are people of color (POC).

Here’s how the new class will influence the gender makeup of the Academy:

Overall Female Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Overall Female Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Notable women invited include “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot, comedian Amy Poehler, and French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

POC comprise 39% of this year’s class. Here’s what that looks like with respect to the Academy’s full voting body:

People of Color in Overall Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

People of Color in Overall Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Notable POC invitees include Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key of “Key & Peele,” Indian actor Salman Khan, and Hong Kong actor Tony Leung.

Of course, there’s a lot of intersectionality happening for women of color (WOC). Prominent WOC in this year’s Academy class include Priyanka Chopra, Sanaa Lathan, and Nazanin Boniadi.

The Academy’s new class is part of an effort to increase the numbers of women and POC members by 2020.

Hopefully the new influx of fresh faces and perspectives will allow more diverse and inclusive narratives to come to the forefront, and prevent another #OscarsSoWhite fiasco.

 

By The Numbers: Interracial Marriage Data

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West arrive at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York (The Huffington Post)

FILE PHOTO – Kim Kardashian and Kanye West arrive at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York, U.S., August 28, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

The 50th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia case is soon approaching. The case struck down bans on interracial marriage, and continues to resonate today. With that in mind, I was curious to see any data on interracial marriages: Has the number gone up? Has societal disapproval gone down?

Let’s take a look:

Who’s Marrying Out?

  • In 1970, less than 1% of all married couples were interracial.
  • In 1980, 6%+ of newlyweds were interracial, and only 3% of all marriages were interracial.
  • In 2013, 12% of newlyweds (a record high) married someone of a different race, and 6.3% of all marriages were interracial.
The Absolute Rise of Intermarriage (Priceonomics)

The Absolute Rise of Intermarriage (Priceonomics)

Who’s Down with Marrying Out?

  • In 1986, only 30% of survey respondents felt interracial marriage is acceptable for everyone. But that same percentage of respondents did not feel interracial marriage was acceptable for anyone.
  • In 2009, 83% of survey respondents were accepting of interracial marriage.
  • In 2012, 93% of people approve of interracial marriage.

And let’s end on one more noteworthy statistic that warms my heart and gives me hope for the future:

“More than four-in-ten Americans (43%) say that more people of different races marrying each other has been a change for the better in our society.”

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Loving v. Virginia, 1967

Mildred and Richard Loving (The New York Times)

Mildred and Richard Loving (The New York Times)

Virginia newlyweds Richard and Mildred Loving were arrested shortly after their wedding in 1958. The reason? As Life magazine would later put it, “the crime of being married.”

The Lovings had violated Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which banned interracial relationships and marriage. The couple avoided prison time be agreeing to leave Virginia and not come back for 25 years.

In 1964, the couple took their case to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court. On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Racial Integrity Act was unconstitutional. The decision made states’ anti-miscegenation laws unenforceable (though many of the laws remained on the books for years later).

Today, nearly 50 years later, the Loving v. Virginia case continues to resonate. In 2015, the decision was cited in Obergefell v. Hodges in arguments in favor of marriage equality to the case’s success. A documentary “The Loving Story” was released in 2011, and “Loving” was released in 2016 with Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as the historic couple.

 

Trends: Slaying While Pregnant

 

Beyonce's performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards (The Fader)

Beyonce’s performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards (The Fader)

It seems like almost every female celebrity is pregnant right now (and that almost all of them are pregnant with twins). But instead of lying low and taking it easy during their pregnancies, many of these women are stepping it up, and making pregnant and non-pregnant women alike look like slackers.

First case in point: Beyonce. Leave it to Queen Bey to put us all to shame. The superstar performed a set during this year’s Grammy Awards. One portion featured her leaning back in a chair perched at a very precarious angle. (I don’t know about you, but my heart was in my throat for that whole portion. And I audibly exhaled when she got off that chair.)

Beyonce had also been scheduled to perform at Coachella before withdrawing. But we can’t fault her for that, considering she’s done more while pregnant than many people do in their lives.

Serena Williams is widely acknowledged to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) tennis player in the world. Last month, she announced her pregnancy. When she announced the news, Williams was 20 weeks along. Someone very smart (and awesome) did the math and realized that Williams had recently played in a match while pregnant. And, as Laura Wagner at “Deadspin” put it, this wasn’t just any match:

Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open, her record-breaking 23rd major, without dropping a single set, while nine fucking weeks pregnant. She is the greatest of all time.

Elsewhere in entertainment, Gal Gadot has been preparing for her upcoming movie “Wonder Woman.” Last November, she shot reshoots for the movie…while also five months pregnant. And she was probably doing more than a few stunts. NBD.

It’s great that we’re seeing so many women dominate during a time in life when women traditionally have been relegated to the sidelines.