We’re only halfway through this year and y’all, melanin has been running everything in a way that you wouldn’t believe! If you thought February, 2016 was one to remember, it was only prepping us for the most blackity black I’m blacker than black year of life…
5. Miss USA:
Deshauna Barber is goals on so many levels. The 26 year old from Washington D.C. represented women in the military with a grace an poise that was indescribable. Throughout the contest, the commentators noted time and time again how Barber’s military training gave her a sense of discipline that none of the other girls had. It showed in the way she walked with her head held high each time she had her chance to sashay on the runway. Her interview answers about the military proved that she was not only a beautiful face, but she also had a wise depth of understanding about issues affecting our service men and women. She is currently an IT Analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce. She hopes to bring more awareness to veteran health issues. This crowned beauty is everything and I’m here to see what else she will do.
4. Ava Duvernay:
Renowned director Ava Duvernay is having the blackest year ever. Hot off of the success of “Selma” in 2015, Ava has been getting recognition from everyone! She has been slated to direct the classic book “A Wrinkle in Time” and she was even honored with her own Barbie® from Mattel! The Ava Duvernay Barbie® has been flying off of the shelves. Little black girls are able to have a doll that represents such a positive role model in our community. Rock on sister!
Representation matters, and this year comic fans of color have been able to see reflections of them like never before. Not only have black actors been given the opportunity to portray characters that would typically have been cast with white actors, such as Michael B. (Bae) Jordan as Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four; black characters have been getting more recognition in their own right. Black Panther is a superhero that Marvel created back in 1966. As the first mainstream black superhero, he exudes the strength of an African King. This year, Marvel has given the amazing opportunity of writing new comics for Black Panther to renowned author Ta-Nehisi Coates. The third edition has been released and they’ve been getting rave reviews. Black Panther has also shown up in the latest Captain American movie portrayed by heartthrob Chadwick Boseman. He will also be getting his own feature film set to be released in 2018 directed by the incomparable Ryan Coogler. The cast is already setting up to be blacker than black (my boo Michael Bae has just signed on). Marvel’s black representation has not stopped there. They are set to release their Netflix series centered around Luke Cage at the end of the year, Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur has been doing really well, and so has Nighthawk which recently just shouted out one of my favorite black podcasts “The Read”. Oh yea, it’s SUPER LIT.
I don’t know if it was motherhood that did it or just feeling comfortable in her position as a mainstream artist but Beyonce has decided that in 2016 she was gonna let y’all know that she is “not here to play with you hoes”. I for one am here for it. In the past, Beyonce has been criticized for her blonde European weaves and seemingly white washed in L’oreal ads. But if you had any doubts about about how in tune and in love with her blackness Beyonce truly was; she laid all them bad boys to rest with the release of her hit single and video “Formation”. Set in New Orleans, “Formation” was full of vivid images of blackness. We all stood back in amazement as we watched her lay on a police car drowning in a lake and gasped as a little boy danced in front of a row of police officers with their hands up. Of course, whites lost their damn minds. It’s as if before this, they did not realize that she was in fact actually black as depicted by this skit from SNL . Who knew? But Beyonce’s peak blackness did not just stop with the release of “Formation”. She actually performed the song at the Super Bowl dressed in all black reminiscent of the Black Panther Party (again, they were mad). Then she announced, that same night, that she’s going on a world tour, the Formation tour began in April and dates are selling out like crazy in the U.S. and abroad. THEN, she released the visual album “Lemonade”. Just like “Formation”, the rest of “Lemonade” was chock full of images that were just so black at ultimate levels. There were so many cameos from beautiful black celebrity women – from Selena Williams twerking to cameos from the mothers to Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner – for us to take in. The sisterhood exuded still has all of us standing in formation until the Queen says otherwise. Hold up… THEN Bey announced her athleisure clothing line Ivy Park… chile!!! #BeyTooLit
Editors Note: I could’ve made this entire article about Beyonce but, you know, other things happened in 2016 (so they say)
1. Obama Out:
*Sigh* Can we all just pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that we are in the final days of his presidency? Okay. POTUS has had quite a few extremely black moments over his stint in the Oval Office, but this year it’s really sinking in that he’s done and he’s just run out of the fucks to give. The best instance of this came from his speech at this 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Flexing his natural comedic skills with quotes such as this one about Kendall Jenner, “We had the chance to meet her backstage and she seems like a very nice woman. I’m not sure what she does but I’m told my Twitter mentions are about to go through the roof.” He also quipped about being on CPT, or “jokes that white people should not make” and that he was going to work at Goldman Sachs to, “earn me some serious Tubmans”. He ended his speech in the blackest way imaginable; “Obama Out” as he dropped the mic! Yaaaaas for blackness at peak levels. Also of note, Larry Wilmore, black comedian and political commentator from “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” hosted the event. He had one of the most memorable quotes of the evening, not only for its blackness, but also for the controversy that was sparked by him saying two simple words: “my nigga”. We all understood the exchange as showing endearment, respect, and friendship. But racists were up in arms over the use of the word that they’re so enraged they’re not allowed to use. WE DON’T CARE, STAY MAD! Anyway, you can watch the entire video here.
Although 2016 has been super lit, it is worth acknowledging that we have lost quite a few of our greats this year.
Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire
We made it to February before we lost one of our legends. Maurice White, founder of Earth, Wind, and Fire went on to glory on February 3, 2016 at the age of 74.
Vanity of Vanity 6
Denise Matthews or as we knew her, Vanity, passed on February 15, 2016. She was only 57 and her death was felt too soon. We came to know her as one of Prince’s many proteges and little did we know that he would soon be joining her.
The role of Apollo Creed’s trainer was how most of us grew to know Tony Burton. He portrayed the gritty loudmouthed trainer that pushed Creed in the ring. He left us February 25, 2016, exactly 3 months after the release of the movie Creed at the age of 78.
Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest
Malik Izaak Taylor, better known to the world as Phife Dawg passed at the young age of 45 on March 22, 2016. He, along with Q-Tip founded A Tribe Called Quest in 1985. A Tribe Called Quest became one of the legends in the Hip Hop world.
Will Smith (NFL)
The Buckeye Nation wept on April 9, 2016 as senseless violence stole away from us the New Orleans Saints and former The Ohio State University Buckeyes defensive end. No one could’ve expected that this bright star’s light would be dimmed by a thoughtless act following an auto collision. He was only 34 years old.
57 does not seem like a long time, but Prince Rogers Nelson in his 57 years of life accomplished more in the world of music than any other artist. There is no genre that he has not left his impression on. He played and mastered more instruments than you could count, changed the sounds that we were used to, danced, and sang all while wearing better clothes than your auntie. His legacy is alive through so many artists that have been influenced by his presence. It rained in purple on April 21, 2016.
This one is fresh and hurts so much. We’ve lost the G.O.A.T. Muhammad Ali. He was more than an elite athlete, he was defiantly black and Muslim in a time where being those two were almost criminal. He was confident in a world that felt he should be demure. There will never be another like him. After an long 32 year battle with Parkinson’s Disease, Ali passed on June 3, 2016 at the age of 74.
Like every other year, 2016 has had its supreme ups and downs, but this year seems to be one rife with triumph in spite of the trials. This first six months holds so much promise, can’t wait to see what else twenny sixteen has in store.