Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion has inspired myriad memes, pop culture discourse, and now an essay in Time magazine. The publication released its 100 Most Influential People 2020 list on September 23, and Megan Thee Stallion is both on the cover and the subject of an essay by Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson.
This year, Time tasked other influential people, many of whom have been on the list themselves, to write the accompanying articles.
"I don’t like to put the stigma of the word strong on Black women because I think it dehumanizes us, but she has strength — strength through vulnerability. She’s lost much of her family — her mother, her father, her grandmother — yet she is the epitome of tenacity, of pulling herself up by her bootstraps," Henson writes of the rapper.
"It's invigorating to see her become a platinum-selling artist with the viral hit 'Hot Girl Summer' and multiple No. 1 songs in the past year, 'Savage' and 'WAP.' But you would be a fool to think that's all there is to her. She's deep."
Megan Thee Stallion (who hails from San Antonio) isn't the only local on the list. Houston-born Lauren Gardner, who received both her bachelor's and master's from the University of Texas at Austin, is the engineer who developed the Johns Hopkins University dashboard that is used to share information about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Five other Texans land on Time's list. San Antonian General Charles. Q. Brown, Jr. made history this summer when he became the nation’s first Black chief of not just the Air Force, but any military service. In his new post, Brown serves as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, perhaps the most prestigious role for any member of the U.S. military.
"CQ [Brown's nickname] has opened doors throughout his career and made sure that they have stayed open for those who follow," writes Heather Wilson, the president of the University of Texas at El Paso.
Sister Norma Pimentel was born in Brownsville and continues to work along the Texas-Mexico border as executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. Her organization, notes Julían Castro in Time, has served more than 100,000 families at the border.
"Her work has taken on greater importance in the era of Donald Trump, and for good reason. As he has acted with cruelty toward migrants, she has acted with compassion. As he has preyed on the vulnerable and sought rejection, she has preached community and acceptance. As he has promoted fear, she has taught love," Castro writes.
Austin billionaire Robert Smith, who stunned students at Morehouse College last year when he announced he was paying off their student loans, also appears on the list. His tribute was cowritten by husband and wife Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson Jackson.
Smith — who is worth $6.2 billion and ranked No. 125 on the recently released Forbes' 400 Richest Americans — is applauded for not only his impressive career in private equity, but for his multimillion-dollar investments in people.
"Robert F. Smith has keenly recognized that the most important way to use wealth and considerable resources is to reinvest in people and their communities, societies and futures," write the Jacksons. "If we can perpetuate this priority, we just may have a shot at creating a better world for future generations."
The other Texans applauded on this year's list are actor Selena Gomez, who was born in Grand Prairie; NFL darling and charismatic Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, who was born in Tyler.