2019: goodbye and good riddance
By Erin White
December 3, 2019
Well, what can I say about 2019 other than, at least it wasn’t 2016? Here is a VERY condensed list of the shit that pissed me the fuck off in 2019.
2019 was the year we found out that Liam Neeson was actually a violent racist after he confessed to hunting random Black men on the street. The impulse, he said, was triggered after a friend was allegedly raped by a Black man. After finding this out, Neeson loitered outside a pub for a week waiting to cross a Black man he could murder. Extremely misguided, alarming, and totally racist, Neeson exposed himself for the violent bigot that he is for “hoping some ‘Black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could…kill him.”
R. KELLY, IN GENERAL
But more specifically the horrific claims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse allegedly inflicted on countless girls and women as revealed in dream hampton’s Surviving R. Kelly doc-series. While the documentary was the most detailed look inside Kelly’s sick world of sadism we’ve ever seen, we knew he was — at the very least — degrading minors. And that alone should have been enough for us to shut him down. And the fact that he was enabled to abuse so many people is utterly sicking.
THE JUSSIE SMOLLETT FIASCO
Ooo, lord Jesus. In hindsight, how banana sandwich was the entire Jussie Smollett fiasco? From the MAGA hats to “I fought the fuck back,” Jussie Smollett’s claims of being jumped by two (white? Black?) dudes in the middle of a cold winter night in Chicago just never really fit. But when a grand jury in Chicago indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts, that didn’t really fit either. It’s hard to say which part of this story pissed me off more? Jussie’s clearly embellished narrative (allegedly) or Chicago police pretending like they have any integrity.
JAY-Z MARRIES THE NFL
He couldn’t stay faithful to Beyoncé, so what made us think he’d stay faithful to us? I’m kidding…but, I’m not. Jay-Z is clearly a ridiculous person who makes terrible decisions. And while I accepted the fact that he and Bey are capitalists just like the next billionaire couple, I was naively hoping he wasn’t the greediest capitalist pig. Though details are scant, The New York Times reported that Jay-Z and Roc Nation’s partnership with the NFL would include consulting on live performances, including the Super Bowl, and the social justice initiative Inspire Change. Sigh. To be fair, it’s not super clear just how much money Hov stands to make from the partnership, but it’s not like he needs it. Why isn’t he investing in Black community infrastructure directly? Oink, oink.
Gina, Gina, Gina. We were all rooting for you, girl. What happened? And what is wrong with you? Being more generous than I believe she deserves, I can understand why Gina is so thirsty to be Black culture adjacent. We are the litty. And the community we have as Black women, particularly, is unlike any other. But, girl, you gotta chill. Chill when it comes to dropping the casual “nigga” in a sing-a-long. Chill when it comes to minimizing Black voices. Chill with using your beige-skinned dad as your nigga pass. You ain’t gotta lie to kick it. But you do have to cut this shit out.
This year, a handful of celebrities were caught in a college admissions bribery ring where they were alleged to have paid-off officials, fudged records, and rigged tests in order to have their mediocre offspring attend fancy colleges. The entitlement. The cheating. The crime. The fact that America’s elite use illegitimate means to access the right spaces isn’t shocking, but the sheer flat-out unworthiness of their mediocre students was pretty startling. Just imagine: you’re wealthy, have access to all the best tutors, programs, coaches, and schools, and your child still can’t get into a good college. Maybe school isn’t their thing, Aunt Becky.
@EMOBLACKTHOT COMES OUT AS CATFISH
Whew, chile. @emoblackthot was a heavily-followed Twitter account run by virtual therapist and tastemaker who catfished their queer and POC following into believing they were a Black woman. The real account runner, Isaiah Hickland, a cisgender Black man, came clean about his false identity in a lengthy interview with Paper. As @emoblackthot, Hickland went as far as to make tweets about treating period cramps and raising money for himself under the guise of being a queer Black woman in need. He also had numerous “friendships” with celebrities like Kehlani and Lil Was X which I’m sure he used for clout and legitimacy to better scam more folks. Allegedly.
Black Twitter is so poppin’ majorly in part to the cultural Black girls and women cultivated online. So much so that pretending to be a Black or ambiguously brown girl has spawned an infestation of “blackfishes” and catfishes trying to elevate themselves off of who we actually are. Sucks when it be ya own people.
LUXURY BRANDS PRETENDING NOT TO KNOW BETTER
2019 was another year where luxury fashion brands tried to push blatantly racist wears on those who could afford it. Early in the year, both Gucci and Burberry were called out for tasteless designs that depicted racist propaganda imagery and anti-Black violence. In Gucci’s case, it was an $890 Black sweater that featured a cut-out mouth with big red lips. You know, a lot like a Golliwog. It had already been on sale at Gucci for six months by the time they removed it from inventory. Burberry, on the other hand, decided to send a noose worn with a hoodie down the runway — really. It’s awkward when your high-paid fashion designers can’t design clothes without alluding to Black pain and the violence perpetrated against us.
HATERS OF THRONES
Okay, look. I’m not about to gaslight you by saying that the handful of episodes known as the final season of Game of Thrones were super good. They weren’t. With the fridging of the only named Black woman character of the entire show, Missandei, the wholly unnecessary burning of King’s Landing, and subsequent murder of the main female character, and the nothingness that ended up being the Night King, season 8 was…kinda trash. But it was OUR trash. We got CleganeBowl. We got Lady Brienne and Jamie Lannister, Arya and Gendry. The Red Woman finally died! Cersei died, even if it was wasn’t nearly as satisfying as we deserved. It wasn’t SO bad and didn’t deserve to be written all the way the fuck off.
Y’ALL FOR IGNORING LEAVING NEVERLAND
As a documentary connoisseur and complete nerd, I’ve seen an unreasonable amount of true crime documentaries. And Leaving Neverland by director Dan Reed is hands-down one of the most disturbing examinations of systematic child abuse told in this format. And despite how harrowing and disturbing the accounts re-told by alleged Michael Jackson victims Wade Robson and James Safechuck are, the documentary just came and went. And even after all we’ve learned from R. Kelly’s misconduct, we as a community are still unwilling to believe victims of famous Black predators. And I find that those who are most adamant about Jackson’s innocence to be the same people who refused to watch the documentary. Look into James Safechuck’s eyes and tell me what he’s saying is bullshit.
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