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Good News: Pyer Moss Shows First Couture Collection, Mj Rodriguez Receives Emmy Nomination, + More

By Manna Zel, she/they

This month in Good News, Zaila Avant-garde wins the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Illinois requires public schools to teach Asian American history, and more—keep reading for the good details.

July 9: Zaila Avant-garde, the 1st African American to Win The Spelling Bee, Also Holds 3 Basketball World Records (NPR)

Fourteen-year-old Zaila Avant-garde made history as the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee—on top of her three Guinness World Records in basketball. In the spelling bee’s 96-year history, the only Black winner prior to Avant-garde was Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica who is also the only spelling bee champion not from the U.S. 

"It made me feel really proud," said Avant-garde. "I'm really hoping lots of little brown girls all over the world and stuff are really motivated to try out spelling and stuff because it's really a fun thing to do and it's a great way to kind of connect yourself with education, which is super important."

July 12: Pyer Moss Celebrates Black Invention With Its First Couture Collection (Vanity Fair)

Hosted at the mansion of Madame C.J. Walker—the first woman to become a self-made millionaire—Kerby Jean-Raymond’s collection, WAT U IZ, made him the first Black designer invited to show on the couture schedule. The founder of Pyer Moss debuted 25 looks that showcased inventions by Black people, from cell phones to refrigerators to the traffic light. 

“The concept is layered; there’s no central theme,” Jean-Raymond told Vanity Fair. “The general concept is that these are inventions by Black people and I wanted to re-introduce them to Black people and reverse any erasure that may exist.”

July 13: Mj Rodriguez Makes History as First Trans Actress to Score Lead Emmy Nomination (them.)

When actress Mj Rodriguez was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, she became the first trans person nominated for one of the Emmy’s top categories. 

“I’ve been wanting to express, and feel, and spread love all my life, and I’ve always wanted to spread it through my art, and I finally feel like I can do it,” Rodriguez said on her Instagram Live. “I finally feel like people are seeing it.”

July 13: Illinois Has Become The First State To Require The Teaching Of Asian American History (NPR)

Beginning in 2022, Illinois public schools will be required to teach Asian American history in schools, making it the first state in the U.S. to do so. 

“We are setting a standard for what it means to truly reckon with our history. It’s a new standard that helps us understand each other, and, ultimately, to move ourselves closer to the nation of our ideals,” said Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, who signed the legislation. According to NPR, the updated curriculum adds a new unit about Asian American history and the stories of Asian Americans in Illinois and the Midwest for all public elementary schools and high schools. 

July 14: Maine Becomes First State to Shift Costs of Recycling from Taxpayers to Companies (The Washington Post)

According to The Washington Post, Maine is now the first state that will require companies to pay the cost of recycling their consumer packaging. New legislation designates that packaging producers will now pay the cost for collecting and recycling materials like cardboard boxes, plastic containers, and more.

“This new law assures every Maine community that help with recycling and lowering the property tax burden is on the way,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Nicole Grohoski (D-Ellsworth) in a statement.

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