Friday, January 02, 2015

Top Stories of 2014

It has been a roller coaster year. If you've read my column I have tried to point out things that came up on my radar screen and items which you need to watch. Politics dominates this list but things are always percolating. I encourage you to disagree my listing but, to also chime in if there are things which rise up.

10. Radicalization and it's draw. The emergence of ISIL came with a vengeance and an over arching strategy of using social media. US security forces warned that Jihadist who went to fight in the region between Syria and Iraq could pose a threat to the homeland. What they didn't realize is the message was being absorbed by a group of young women from Denver were torn between American culture and Islamic Culture(the three girls were stopped in Germany) .

9. Zimbabwe - Robert Mugabe is 90 years old and won re-election. Finally, he sees he might not live out his term. A pair of potential successors who were elected deputies think they are the rightful heirs to this country. However, Mugabe promoted his wife to a high ranking position and literally dubbed her his successor. This will not end well.

8. Cuba - I went to this communist country this year. What a came away with was a paradoxically society on the verge of change. That change came when the president agreed to begin the process of normalizing relations with the island nation.

Downtown Havana, Cuba
7. Reality versus Drama. The so call Black Reality genre continues to fill time slots with the lowest common denominator. Black women showing their "dirty laundry" is so yesterday. The arrival of Sorority Sisters received such a backlash that the network assumed good or bad publicity, put it on anyway. Advertisers are fleeing. Here's hoping Empire featuring Taraji Henson and Terrence Howard has better writing than the previews.

6. Bootylicious - A nice derriere is alright by me, Destiny's Child told you so in their song. This year however to my surprise the booty was getting much love in the majority community. Vanity Fair declared it was the year of the "white booty." Kim Kardashian's cover photo was a web sensation and discussed often in barbershops. All that stopped with Nicki Minaja's, Anaconda. It was the most viewed YouTube video this year.

5. Key and Peele - This show on Comedy Central makes you laugh and makes you think. It has won a Peabody for its satire. My favorite bit is Obama's interpreter. Here's hoping Larry Wilborn's Minority Report, the replacement for Stephen's Colbert, is a big hit.

4. POTUS - Two years left and Obama continues to beat back the naysayers. He was shellacked in the Mid-term elections losing the House and the Senate. In a lame-duck session of congress he got them to approve a budget, implemented executive actions on immigration and Cuba. His response to those who didn't like what he did, "Pass a bill." Give the guy credit he turned around an economy and has more people on health insurance.

3. OMG/Oh Shit. The biggest case that fits this bill is Raven Running Back Ray Rice and Jenay Rice. It showed the couple quarreling on a elevator and the football player striking his girl friend. In a close second, are the number of women who accused comedian Bill Cosby of being drugged and rape. Honorable mention former Clippers Owner Donald Sterling.

2. Ebola - This disease is no joke. The spread from Nigeria to West Africa shook the world. When the first cases came to America we responded with compassion. However, put a black face on this disease and some how it's fake epidemic. Here's to all those who took chances and defied the critics and looked to help.

1. Ferguson to Gardner. Michael Brown's death turned a spotlight on an ugly phenomena in Amercia...Black men's lives are endangered when confronted by police. Eric Gardner's death while being choking provide this year's most purposeful line "I Can't Breathe."

Person of  Year: This was a tough call. I was torn between a pair of individuals whose narratives started out so differently but had impacts they didn't imagine. First the runner up, Mo'ne Davis.
She was the young lady who pitched in the Little League World Series and won. A first for game that is lead my young men. We haven't heard the last of her.

The winner however is someone one who I've known since he was a college student. I've encouraged him at every step of his career, Wesley Lowery. So why Lowery? In Journalistic terms he has been at the heart of every major story in the last three years (The Cop Shooter in L.A., was on the scene in Boston when police captured the Marathon Bomber, and the murder case of a New England Patriots, Aaron Hernandez). This year he was hired by Washington Post. He was in Ferguson to cover the Micheal Brown's death. He happen to be in a McDonald's when police arrested/detained him for several hours. His twitter feed is a must read. He has had several verbal spats with conservative bloggers. Then the unthinkable, they began publishing his address and phone numbers (luckily these were his parents address). Reporters don't like becoming part of the story, but in the age of digital footprints it's easy to find us. Here's hoping they aren't mentally disturb people who might act on what we write. I forgot to mention he won a Pulitzer, and the Emerging Journalist Award from NABJ this year.

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