Last year, I did a review of 2016 with the good, bad, and the side eyes; this year I want to do something a little different with the Best Moments of 2017. The year was filled with positivity even with an immoral administration. There were threats to immigrants with the uncertain future of DACA, the display of white fragility and violence with the Charlottesville white nationalist riots, natural disasters that effected the globe and America’s mistreatment of Puerto Rico during this time, police shootings, violence across the world, and the usual celebrity deaths. Rest in peace to Kenneka Jenkins, Jordan Edwards, Erica Garner, Ashawnty Davis, Imani McCray, Nelsan Ellis, Dick Gregory, Chuck Berry, Prodigy, Charlie Murphy, Chester Bennington, Edith Windsor, Robert Guillaume, Della Reese, Fresh Kid Ice, Earle Hyman, Lil Peep, Joni Sledge, Adam West, Bernie Casey, Charles Bradley, Hugh Hefner, Fats Domino. Now, on to the positivity.
Television and Film
Black artist continued to add creativity and diverse narratives to the ever growing renaissance of black media in 2017. Insecure,Queen Sugar, and Greenleaf premiered their second seasons this year. Dear White People, She’s Gotta Have It, and Marlon made their hilarious debuts, Robin Thede debut as one of the few black women to have their own late night show, ever, and B.E.T introduced us to some new talent and proved that New Edition is still relevant in the tv movie about their career.
Jordan Peele brought an unexpected gem to cinema with his socially conscious thriller/horror film, Get Out. The film turned the horror genre on its head with a creative premise on the dangers of white liberals and being a black man in America. With a budget of $5mil, the film has made around $254mil making it a super box office smash in 2017.
Every year there are stellar albums and singles; this year is no exception. Jay-Z opened up about his family life, infidelities to Queen Bey, and black empowerment in 4:44 while Kendrick produced another amazing album about race and coming of age with, Damn. Both are nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammy’s alongside Childish Gambino, Bruno Mars, and Lorde making it the first time a white man has not been nominated in the category.
Cardi B, SZA, and Lil Uzi Vert had breakout years. Lyricism was not as manistream but still noticeable with releases from Joey Bada$$, Vince Staples, Big K.R.I.T, Tyler the Creator, and Rhapsody whose album, Laila’s Wisdom, was nominated for Best Rap Album at the Grammys.
The Black Panther Trailer
Ever since the announcement of the Black Panther film in 2014 (so long ago!) people across all races have been excited for the debut of the film. Black people came through with hilarious reactions to what will surely be an exciting experience. The afro futurism, the ensemble cast, and the music have already blown our heads off. Black history month is going to be lit!
Women Throwing Out Respectability Politics
Black women were a force to be reckoned with in 2017. The influence on fashion, music, and politics was and is still pushed to the wayside. Respectability politics have always hung over the heads of women especially black women. Society pressures us to change everything from our hair, complexion, bodies, personality, and sexuality to blend in and even when we do this we’re still chastised. SZA and Cardi B challenged this with their sexually charged, un-filtered music and free personalities. Tiffany Haddish showed you don’t need to smooth your exterior to run things in Hollywood and the literary world and all hail the Queen; Maxine Waters, who did not take any mess from this administration and demanded her voice be heard in the political world.
Rihanna didn’t need to drop an album this year to be on top. Her Fenty beauty line symbolized real inclusivity with shades for melanated queens. Soon after the brands success, make up companies scrambled to emulate the diverse shades included.
Putting Lavar Ball’s annoying personality aside, his mission to direct his sons in the right direction, create his own platform for young black athletes, and basically interrupt the white owned monopoly on sports is growing every day. With plans on starting his own Junior Basketball Association as a college alternative (hmm), athletes would be paid $3,000-$10,000 a month with efforts to get them ready for the NBA. If successful, this would definitely disrupt the NCAA system that could care less about talented black athletes. Hopefully this pulls through and other black entrepreneurs follow with their own platforms. The website We Buy Black was very pivotal this year in not only highlighting black inventors from the past but also shining a light on current black entrepreneurs and investors of today.
Chance The Rapper
Chance the Rapper has been very consistent with his music, activism, and community service over the years. 2017 was the same; he won three Grammy’s including Best New Artist, donated more than 1 million dollars to Chicago Public Schools, Lead Chicago’s Bud Billiken Parade, spoke to students about important issues, and received countless awards for his humanitarian efforts. Chance has shown that he is more than a photo-op and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Tarana Burke, Founder of the Me Too Movement
The Me Too movement was an unfortunate but liberating movement that revealed stories of sexual harassment and assaults around the world and exposed the unsurprising rape culture in hollywood, politics, and damn near every industry across the globe. Activist, Tarana Burke created the movement in 2006 and by no surprised was snubbed of being on the cover for Time’s Person of the Year. She didn’t even receive the biggest photo in the magazine so myself and other BLACK women decided to celebrate her since mainstream publications chose to ignore her. She is currently the Senior Director at Girls for Gender Equity and will bring in the 2018 New Year’s Ball in Time Square.
Moonlight had a stellar awards journey. The film had an amazing ensemble including Naomie Harris, Andre Holland, breakout actor, Mahershala Ali, and newcomers Alex Hibbert, Jaden Piner, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monae, and Trevante Rhodes (mmm <3). Despite La La Land being the predicted winner at the Oscars, Moonlight pulled an upset (to some) but not without being snubbed of the initial reveal after Bonnie & Clyde were given the wrong envelope. Along with Best Picture, the film also garnered Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali. Black queer representation, black masculinity, and black love was represented well in this remarkable film.
Despite not being chosen for any team in the NFL, Colin Kaepernick continued to empower people of color and black america with his support and his wallet in 2017. He’s donated close to $1 million in donations. He received the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award from the ACLU, visited inmates at Rikers Island, attended the Indigenous Peoples’ Sunrise Ceremony for Un-Thanksgiving Day, and filed a collusion lawsuit against the NFL. Kudos to Mr. Kaepernick!
There were a lot of first in 2017 in regard to politics. Andrea Jenkins, who was elected to the Minneapolis City Council, became the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the United States while democrat Danica Roem became Virginia’s first transgender lawmaker and Democrat Dawn Adams became the state’s first openly lesbian candidate elected to the House of Delegates. Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala, became the state’s first Latina delegates. Wilmot Collins, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Liberia, was the first black mayor to be elected in Helena, Montana and Democrat Vi Lyles became Charlotte, North Carolina’s first black woman to be elected as mayor. Black celebrities, democrats, and millennials proved that social media is very influential and came through with support for Keisha Lance Bottoms in Atlanta’s Mayoral race, helping her win the position.
One of the most controversial races this year was the Alabama Senate Race with democratic nominee Doug Jones winning over child molestor, Roy Moore. Of course, their piece of shit president had Moore’s back while black men and especially black women came out in droves for Doug Jones. Now, all eyes are on Jones to make some positive changes for the community that elected him in.
Those are my best moments of 2017. Thank you to everyone who read, shared, or supported Neon Fade and here’s to a succesfull 2018!