Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Top 10 Black Stories of 2017

From where I sit there were both interesting and disturbing trends for Black folks. A number of items I have chronicled for years got attention and had a resolution. Now for the annual disclaimer…if you don’t like the list make up your own.

10. Breakout in Media/TV/Film. The breakout of the film “Get Out” was foretold when I featured the comedy duo of “Key and Peele.” The Jordan Peele Movie started out as sleeper, but has garnered a Golden Globe nomination. Ava Duvernay’s, Queen Sugar is a drama which has so many layers. Issa Rae has finally hit her groove with “Insecure.” I am so looking forward 2018, Marvel’s “Black Panther.” This movie will bring more audience to the first Black Superhero. Lastly, Tiffany Haddish has something to say, and I will be listening.

9. People saying stupid stuff.  I know…POTUS is chief instigator of this. My friend Lawrence Ross wrote in 2016 for the www.TheRoot.com an article related to Black Surrogates for Donald Trump. This year’s lea,der is a Rapper B.o.B. He put forth the argument the world is flat and used a “GoFundMe Page” to prove he was right. Honorable mentions: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos suggesting “HBCU’s were the originators for school choice;” and  Omarosa Manigault Newman claiming she resigned rather than fired from her White House job. Per Robin Roberts of ABC Good Morning America, “Bye Felicia.”

8. Enough was Enough in Zimbabwe – President for Life, Robert Mugabe stepped down as President of the African nation. He was is 93 years old. He has been in power for 37 years. In what many described as a bloodless coup, Mugabe was put under house arrest. It took him a week to submit his resignation. The instigator for the change came after his wife Grace (aka “Gucci Grace”) infuriated Emmerson Mnangagwa (he is the now the president – and was charged with implementing many of Mugabe’s repressive orders) after he was removed as Vice President. Grace told the military, she was prepared to take over the country after sacking Deputy President. Have to add honorable mention South African President Jacob Zuma. He tried to thwart a judicial inquiry into corruption in South Africa. Zuma wanted to put his ex-wife to replace him in office but failed to get support. Cyril Ramaphosa won the ANC leadership and all bets are off if Zuma will be brought up on corruption charges.

7. The new face of Black Politics is a woman – Alabama was on the verge of electing a pedophile to the U.S. Senate. With polls showing the race too close to call between Judge Roy Moore and Prosecutor Doug Jones it came down to a ground game that few knew about, Black Women. They mobilized in their clubs, sororities, and made sure they would be heard. 98% of them voted for Jones giving him a 20,000 vote margin. Recount – slim and none.

6. Black media landscape – If you work in Black media this is a troubling time. From writers not getting paid (Ebony); the lack of financial ad support for Black media; and silencing voices which challenge the status quo (Roland Martin). What was up with Essence which was a part of Time-Warner, excluded from the merger talks?  The thing which makes me pause; Black millennials don’t always see problems with fewer Black media outlets.

5 –Tie- Your good deeds don’t shelter you from sexual harassment.  There are several cases this year. However, the most notable case involved the “Dean of the House,” Representative John Conyers of Michigan. He pushed Civil Rights legislation, gave Rosa Parks a job in his office and was on the committee looking into the assassination of President John Kennedy. While noble, you don’t get a pass for what you did in the past.  

5 – Tie- Confederate Monuments Come Down – I wrote and recorded a piece called, Everything Changed After Charlottesville. From New Orleans, Baltimore, Charleston, Dallas, Raleigh and so many other places these memorials were erected during the turn of the century to placate the naysayers in the Confederacy. It was a message to Black people. No, I didn’t buy the argument about history. Charlottesville, with torches and people screaming, “Death to Jews,” were reminiscent of the Nazi’s. The next day Heather D. Heyer died after being run over by a “white supremacist.” This spurred other cities to act because they didn’t want a repeat. 

4. Colin Kaepernick Affect – A year ago the San Francisco Quarterback set off of wave of protest by sitting out the national anthem. Then a naval officer suggested he take a knee.  Several of his 
teammates joined in. It began to spread, but players were divided. Then POTUS weighed in. Suggesting the players were unpatriotic. It was on. Kaepernick ended up suing the NFL for collusion because no team would give him a try out. Then Sports illustrated named him this year’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.

3. I am numbed by all the deaths of people at the hands of guns. I’ve talked about how “life is cheap.” This was a record year in several cities across the country. In the state where I live, Maryland, there are three cities/countries which made the list compiled by CBS News. Baltimore is number 2 just behind St. Louis. It is nothing I want to brag about.

2. Black women becoming Mayors for the first time. From New Orleans (LaToya Cantrel), then Charlotte (Jennifer W. Roberts), on to Atlanta (Keisha Lance Bottoms) and finally San Francisco (London Bred). This is #BlackGirlMagic. These ladies join a long list of Black female mayors including in Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD. It was the late Shirley Chisolm who said, “If they don’t have a seat for you at the table, bring a chair.” Getting in office will seem easy, but staying in office isn’t for the meek.

1. #MeToo – This hashtag was created by Tarana Burke in 2007. This year it took off.  It’s changed a conversation about sexual predation, and harassment in the work place. It was the Time’s Persons of the Year. My fear is this is just the beginning.

Person of the Year – Damon Young of VerySmartBrothas. This year Young literally hit the lottery. His onetime blog was picked up by the Root.com. His observations are at times critical, thought provoking, and will have you rolling on the floor (I was at the NABJ Conference in New Orleans when he set his sights on us – “Shit Bougie People Love: The NABJ Convention”). Breaking down the beef between TaNehisi Coates and Dr. Cornell West was brilliant.

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