Commentary: Yasss, sis! Yass!

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Commentary: Yasss, sis! Yass!
July 14
11:12 2021

By Michelle Hollinger

This is what it looks like on the micro level when someone knows they’re worthy and stops singing “We shall overcome,” embraces the truth that they have indeed overcome, will keep on overcoming, fully aware that said overcometh has nothing to do with mainstream approval.

You’ve probably heard by now that New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones told the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill deuces because, basically, they play too much. They probably thought after their somewhat of an about face with their 9-4 vote, she was going to rush into their waiting arms and get to work, all full of gratitude and adoration for what should have been done from jump street – unanimously. 

Instead, sis said let me think about it. 

“These last weeks have been very challenging and difficult and I need to take some time to process all that has occurred and determine what is the best way forward,” Hannah-Jones wrote, or in other words, “these white people got me bent if they think I’m about to keep my Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur Grant, Peabody Award-winning magnificence someplace that clearly needs me to restrain my unrestrainable brilliance.”  

It was the principle of the thing that kept sis fighting for the tenure she deserved, but I think she knew she was not going to stick around soon after the trustees kowtowed to a donor who questioned Jones’ legitimacy because he doesn’t want the truth told about slavery. 

Mind you, tenure had been routinely granted to every single one of her white predecessors. Plus, sis had the full backing of the journalism department’s faculty, chairman, the dean and pretty much the whole doggone faculty. Susan King, the journalism school dean, had offered Hannah-Jones a five-year contract to teach while she continued to work on the good old boys, but sis said nope, it’s tenure or nothing. 

Instead, Hannah-Jones told Gayle King on CBS This Morning that she was taking her talents to Howard University, where she will be joined by more brilliance in Between the World and Me author, Ta-Nahesis Coates, one of her staunchest supporters (who seemed ready to give somebody those hands for messing around with his sistahfriend.) 

The irony of UNC’s ability to take being trifling to a whole new level in tenure is supposed to allow those granted the typically life-long employment guarantee the freedom and independence to research, write and teach without sugar-coating content to appease insecure white men who want everybody to believe slavery was all peaches and cream.

Sis threw down on “The 1619 Project,” a project she thought of (actually, I believe the ancestors spoke to and through her, but she was listened, so she gets the rightful credit) to shine a radical and necessary light on the legacy of slavery on U.S. society today. 

People close to me know I am fond of saying “everything happens for a reason” regarding everything. This is a perfect example. 

If old boy didn’t get his undies in a bunch and throw a white privileged, revisionist history obsessed tantrum, the esteemed HBCU in D.C. would not be getting Hannah-Jones, Coates and nearly $20 million in donations from the Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Hannah-Jones said she’s going to raise even more money for Howard. And she will because in the words of Montell Jordan, “This is how we do it,” when you know you’re worthy!

Michelle Hollinger is the CWO (Chief Worthiness Officer) of The Institute for Worthy Living and the author of “Sis, You’re Worth It: Seven Ideas for Manifesting Your Best Life.” Learn more at Contact her at

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