Race

10 of the most Black AF moments of 2017

December 19, 2017

2017. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Regardless of the kind of year you had in the time since Orange Cheeto was sworn into office, there’s no denying that Black folks as a collective did not take this year with our hands behind our back. From the very beginning, activists of all stripes embraced their unapologetic selves, contributing to some of the Blackest moments of the era. Here are ten that stand out most:

1. Takiyah Thompson takes down confederate monument in the spirit of Bree Newsome:

In the midst of the near-race riot in Charlottesville, VA, sparked by white supremacists rallying in protest of the removal of a statue honoring Confederate general Robert E. Lee, renewed calls to bring down Confederate monuments erupted across the country.

But for North Carolina student Takiyah Thompson, waiting for the state to do the right thing was a losing bet, and so the 22-year-old activist took matters into her own hands by leading a crowd in toppling a statue in Durham just two days after the Charlottesville rally.

“The sheriff, Andrews, and the establishment want to make a political prisoner of me, and they want to make an example of me,” she said. “And they want to scare people, and they want to scare black people, and they want to scare people of color, and they want to scare people who are reclaiming their agency.”

2. Kaepernick files grievance against the NFL and team owners:

According to Sports Illustrated, free agent quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL for collusion. Collusion requires actual cooperation between teams (or cooperation between a team or teams and the league) to keep him off of NFL teams.

Given that the league seemed to collectively agree that Kaepernick was a distraction and to discourage others from following suit, the idea is not that far-fetched. Still, Kaep needs concrete proof in order to be successful. Here’s to keeping up the good fight in 2018!

3. Princess Nokia throws soup at a racist:

In the intial viral video, it was unclear who the participants in the altercation were, but AFROPUNK alum and New York rapper Princess Nokia later confirmed her identity and how the incident escalated on Twitter. Apparently, the man began by calling a group of teenagers “niggers,” and the “Kitana” lyricist wasn’t having it.

4. Frederick Douglass’ family responds to Trump & tells him what time it is:

When President Pumpkin referenced Frederick Douglass in the present tense during his bizarre Black History month press conference, the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives responded in a lengthy clapback for the ages via Huffington Post. Some of the highlights include: “Like the President, we use the present tense when referencing Douglass’s accomplishments because his spirit and legacy are still very much alive, not just during Black History Month, but every month. Leading up to the Bicentennial of Douglass’s birth, in February 2018, here are some of the initiatives that we, the Frederick Douglass family, will be implementing as well as some of those we hope to implement with the support of this administration, the institutions it leads and the American people (black, brown and white alike)…” and “We look forward to helping re-animate Douglass’s passion for equality and justice over the coming year leading up to his Bicentennial in 2018. We encourage the President to join in that effort.” Nothing like the subtlety of pointing out ignorance and encouraging the uninformed to get involved in their own enlightenment in the afternoon.

5. Dallas residents want to rename Robert E. Lee Park after Erykah Badu:

A group of Dallas, TX. residents petitioned to change the name of a local park named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Erykah Badu Park! Because why not? The Change.org petition argues that now that the statue of Lee has been removed from the park, might as well start from scratch by paying tribute to an artist who uses music to communicate with and touch others in a positive way.

6. When Lido Pimienta invited “Brown girls to the front”:

When Polaris Prize-winning singer Lido Pimienta singer asked festival-goers at the Halifax Pop Explosion to make room for women of color, calling all “brown girls to the front”, some of the white volunteers and white attendees refused to provide space for WOC during the performance.

In her own statement about the event, Pimienta wrote: “I love my audience. I love men. I love all women, and I am inspired by everyone, but I am not blind to the unsettling effects of colonialism and white supremacy. I will not stop doing everything in my power to make oppressed people feel safe and show them the respect that they deserve at my shows.”

7. NY activist argues Columbus statue should be replaced with Toussaint L’Ouverture:

In response to the national conversation about Confederate monuments and statues erected to honor White Supremacy and colonialism, Mayor Bill DeBlasio initiated the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers to advise him on what is to become of the questionable monuments around New York City. First up for discussion have been statues of Christopher Columbus, Theodore Roosevelt, and J. Marion Sims. One of the most outspoken critics of the Columbus statue has been activist Glenn Cantave.

Cantave, who is the founder and CEO of Movers and Shakers, an innovative movement utilizing augmented reality to advocate for marginalized groups, is rallying to have the Columbus statue replaced by one that honors Toussaint L’Ouverture—who led the Haitian Revolution in the 18th century. NYC has the second-largest population of Haitians outside of Haiti which, Cantave argues, is a positive thing for the Haitian diaspora, but more so, a positive thing for all New Yorkers from oppressed groups.

8. Black trans model Munroe Bergdorf calls out racism and is fired by L’Oreal:

Beauty brand L’Oréal got in hot water after it dropped British model Monroe Bergdorf for implicating all white people in racism just days after announcing her as a face of the campaign.

To protest Bergdorf’s firing, fellow model and DJ Clara Amfo, who starred in a campaign similar to Bergdorf’s last year, broke off with L’Oréal in solidarity. Then on Wednesday British brand Illamasqua announced the 30-year-old Bergdorf would be the face of its new campaign based around gender fluidity.

9. Resistance erupts in French Guiana as people get fed up with exploitation & neocolonialism:

French Guiana is a French region located in South America between Suriname and Brazil. The majority of the population is Black, mixed or has foreign origins. Despite gold, oil, wood and rockets, many still live as if its third-world country.

Earlier this year, a huge social resistance began. Some collectives have been created and the ones already existing have joined the movement. People are done with the government’s lies, their oppression and their seizure. Resisters demonstrated them that they are taking care of ourselves by ourselves. These collectives blocked the Space center blocking one of the rockets from launching, put roadblocks on the roads, closed the airport, and more.

10. Black Girls Code founder turns down ‘tone-deaf’ $125,000 grant from Uber:

After former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick joined #45’s advisory council, and engineer Susan Fowler alleged sexual harassment and a culture of misconduct at the company, the ride-share service faced a P.R. nightmare that they have since been eager to clean up. First, they hired a Black woman, Bozoma Saint John, as chief brand officer. Then they replaced Kalanick with an anti-Trump CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi. Now, they are putting money into tech organizations centering on women—but for one of those organizations, Black Girls Code, it was too little to late.

BONUS: Raury protests Dolce & Gabanna on their own runway for mocking the power of boycotting:

Atlanta artist Raury basically Trojan horsed his way across enemy lines as one of the models who walked in Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring-Summer ’18 runway show at Men’s Fashion Week in Milan. D&G has drawn recent criticism for their decision to dress First Lady Melania Trump and designer Domenico Dolce’s 2015 remarks about “synthetic” children and gay parenthood. In reaction to criticism for proudly dressing FLOTUS, Dolce and partner Stefano Gabbana launched the cheeky “Boycott Dolce & Gabbana” (You know, like Beyonce did a year earlier). The campaign includes merch and commercials featuring young people joyously “protesting”, very Pepsi commercial à la Kendall Jenner.

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