The Blackest Moments Of 2015 That Filled Us With Joy, Laughter And Hope
Without question, 2015 has been a year full of triumph and tragedy and overwhelming highs and lows. But above all else, it was filled with unapologetic, beautifully Black moments that made us cheer, made us guffaw and rendered us proud and full of hope.
Like when filmmaker and activist Bree Newsome became an instant hero after climbing a flagpole and removing the Confederate flag in front of South Carolina’s Statehouse. The moment spawned copious White tears for Confederate flag sympathizers who believe the battle flag represents Southern pride; that it is their birthright to uphold White supremacy and all its symbols. More importantly, Newsome’s act aligned with the longstanding revolutionary tradition of Black women like Rosa Parks, women who have advanced civil rights issues by performing acts deemed criminal. For anyone oblivious as to whether activism is alive and well, all they need to do is look at women and men like Newsome. Progress and change live in the hearts and selfless acts of the brave soldiers who remove Confederate flags, change the names of halls named after known racists and make their voices heard on campuses, and both march and demand justice for those innocently killed by police.
On a lighter note, The Wiz Live! had all of us in our feelings with its stellar cast, including singer Stephanie Mills who starred in the original Broadway play, and newcomer Shanice Williams, who undoubtedly has a long and fruitful career ahead of her. So much Black excellence. So much creativity, depth, heart and soul on our television screens, the likes of which we don’t often get to see, particularly from an all-Black cast. And if Black Twitter and the musical’s strong ratings (11.5 million viewers tuned in) are any indication, which they very much are, we want more, please.
And can we talk about how social media is giving storytellers a different platform? Zola. Girrrl. Where to begin? People were tuned into Aziah “Zola” Wells’s road trip stripper saga like it was the latest addition to the Thursday night Shondaland lineup. Twitter was all abuzz, and even celebrities like Missy Elliott, Ava DuVernay, and KeKe Palmer got caught up in the suspenseful, 148 tweets-long action. Some think a Zola movie should be in the works. Who knows? It just might come to fruition. Zola’s story called attention to the kind of untapped talent that Hollywood should definitely tap into.
And speaking of the power of social media, James Wright made headlines when he literally sang the praises of Patti LaBelle via YouTube after tasting her store-bought sweet potato pie. Two seconds later, the video went viral, LaBelle’s pies flew off shelves, and since then, LaBelle and her biggest fan broke bread, sang, and have now co-hosted a Cooking Channel special together. Lesson? Never underestimate the power of a viral video.
In the world of sports, Serena Williams, Misty Copeland and Simone Biles made all kinds of history in 2015. Williams was Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, and rightfully so, beating out that damn American Pharaoh horse, which is a damn horse. (Did I mention it’s a damn horse?) Simone Biles won the all-around title at the World Gymnastics Championships for the third time in a row. And Misty Copeland became the first Black woman to become a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. These women, covering magazines, making history, whose ability had been doubted because of the color of their skin and build of their bodies, displayed unmistakable athletic prowess, as well as grace, and put a hard stop to the sentence, “Black women can’t (or don’t) ____.”
And speaking of what people can do, President Obama surprised us all when he decided to show a different side by clapping back at detractors. When he talked about folks wanting to “pop off,” he caused people all over the country to do a double take and ask, “I’m sorry, what did you say, Mr. President?” The moment was one of several this year in which POTUS (and FLOTUS) proved the Obamas are leaving the White House with a bang.
And how could one forget about the world of entertainment? In a year of great performances, anyone who saw Creed and the episode of How To Get Away With Murder that featured Cicely Tyson as Ophelia, Annalise’s mother, can attest to their Blackness. Every Black woman sighed lovingly in their respective seats during the tender moment when Adonis helped Bianca take out her Havana twists. And every word, every move, every breath coming from Cicely Tyson in HTGAWM reminded us of our mothers and ourselves. She was equal parts protective, harsh, loving, and understanding. She sat Annalise in between her legs and combed her hair, like many of us did with our mothers, sisters, aunts and loved ones as children.
All of these moments meant a lot and were ones we could relate to and come together about, in joy, laughter, and pain. And when you think about it, the idea of bonding over sweet potato pies, classic movie remakes, and movements to speak on significant social issues, well, it doesn’t get much Blacker than that.
What were some of your favorite, Blackest moments from 2015?