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Leslie Jones, black women have your back

Roxanne Jones | 8/30/2016, 3 p.m.
We were in second grade. And I can still feel the dirt in my hair, falling down my face. Still ...
Leslie Jones, a "Saturday Night Live" cast member and "Ghostbusters" star, is officially joining NBC's Rio Olympics coverage, NBC Sports confirmed to CNNMoney. (Photo: CNN)

— For centuries, black women's magnificent, strong bodies have been coveted, used and then abused at will. We have been stripped down to our souls --- though never losing our spirit --- robbed of our humanity, our families, our dignity. But still we rise to unimaginable heights generation after generation, whether it be to the White House, the big screen or the boardroom. And though we have shed many tears, we will not be broken.

According to reports by the National Center for Education Statistics, black women are among the most educated group in America. Accounting for both race and gender, there is a higher percentage of black women (9.7%) enrolled in college than any other group, including Asian woman (8.7%), white women (7.1%) and lastly, white men (6.1%), according to the 2011 US Census Bureau.

So yes, the hateful words may sting us. And often leave unseen scars. But they also make us stronger, more resilient. As a girl, I plotted ways to get back at my haters. I found my revenge in the classroom -- where I discovered I could be smarter, work harder than most -- and in sports, where my oversized body was stronger than most. And more than once, my sweet revenge came at the end of my fist, when I got tired of running and decided to stand and fight.

Leslie's revenge is her success. Bursting onto the big screen at 48 years old to star in "Ghostbusters" was the culmination of years of hard work that took Jones, the daughter of an Army vet who dreamed of being a comedian, from a college hoops scholarship to finally a big break with "Saturday Night Live."

She is a living example of the American dream. Working hard, succeeding on her own terms where no one imagined she could, or should. Jones' story is one to be celebrated and even emulated.

So no, haters, you cannot have Leslie Jones, or Gabby or Serena. Or any of the long list of trailblazing black women you too often try to destroy. We know this game well and you will not win.

"Our noses are broad, our lips are thick, our hair is nappy -- we are black and beautiful," said Stokely Carmichael .

And we're here to stay. Deal with it.

Roxanne Jones, a founding editor of ESPN Magazine and former vice president at ESPN, has worked as a producer and as a reporter at the New York Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She was named a 2010 Woman of the Year by Women in Sports and Events, is a co-author of "Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete," and CEO of the Push Marketing Group. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.