#2016isover – A tribute to 2016
2016 has been a year to remember, or to forget. In the liberal bubble I am in, the memes I see now centre a lamenting of the year we’ve had or wishing it would end already.
Whilst I can completely relate to the fact that 2016 has indeed been a difficult year, I remain weary of much of the rhetoric, which has been going on for most of the year. At best, it is just silly memes to alleviate the stress of the year. At worst, this could be damaging to social and political movements to keep perpetuating the idea that events of this year have been unique and caused by it being 2016. As though the Gods of the calendar decided on the 1st of January to wreak havoc on us, and once the year is over we will go back to some peace loving utopia.
2016 has not been unique in any way. Whilst it has seen changes in the political and social landscape across the world – these were not unprecedented or unpredictable. The global rise of the fascists’ ideology- that has been building up ever since WWII. The UK population being misled by lying politicians- well that happens every election. The legalised murder of unarmed black men and women- when has that ever not happened?
It is safe to say that 2016 hasn’t been great, but it is important to not become disillusioned or discouraged. Instead we must recognise all we’ve accomplished and celebrate the wins we’ve had this year. As Newton’s Law states, for every oppressive action against us, there is an equal and unrelenting clapback. Whether it’s through protests, a song, a viral dance or a movie. These are all acts of resistance. Creating entertainment, building solidarity or simply excelling in the face of such adversity is an act of resistance. Most importantly these acts were by us and for us.
So here’s a short run through of some of the amazing things we’ve done, created or popularised in 2016:
Everytime we made social media lit
The hashtags we created:
Black twitter has been doing the absolute most this year, whether dragging celebs to the ends of the earth, or simply trying to guess what job a person had.
Black twitter did not hold back!
we were there to offer support:
we destroyed harmful stereotypes:
we held people to account, like we wish the police where
I think memes have become one of my greatest forms of self-care. Honestly, for every situation, every emotion, and every event this year, there has been a meme to get me through it.
My Top Three
1. Whenever white girls try and identify with A Seat at the Table or Lemonade.
2. When I make the mistake of going to a ‘carnival’ themed night out in Bristol.
3. When I think about how Farage managed to blame migrants for everything wrong in the UK… Or how Trump managed to blame migrants for everything wrong in the US…
Undoubtedly, it was a year that has tested us in unimaginable ways, from having to support Hillary to no avail, to the running man being reborn. Some challenges never should have been, while others have been key in making this year liveable:
My top three:
We dominated music (as always)
2016 was a good year for music. A slew of great albums and mixtapes were released, there was an increase of artists engaging with the BLM discourse, the music available has been so varied in the tone and style, and yet there has been a unifying feel of new music being made that was truthful to the complexities of the black experience.
My Top three:
- A Seat at the Table, Solange
“The therapeutic and empowering album that we needed this year. Solange recorded, arguably, the blackest album of the year” The HuffPost
It was all inspired by an ignorant and derogatory conversation two white men had about her, the album is the literal embodiment of “stars from ashes…?’
2. Lemonade, Beyonce
AKA “When white people realised that Beyonce was black”.
The hurt white feelings over Formation told us it would be a great album even before it was released.
And don’t be fooled by the simplification of the album by the white media into just ‘Becky with the good hair’ or ‘anti-police’. Lemonade was an amazing visual album as it paid homage to various black writers, poets, rising stars, and traditions from various African countries.
That and it gave us Serena Williams twerking.
3. Colouring Book, Chance the Rapper
The album and the tour were easily some of my highlights of the year.
Chance the Rapper inspired the #blackboyjoy and this whole album personifies that.
And many more…
Malibu – Anderson Paak
4 your eyez only – J. Cole
Anti – Rihanna,
Blonde – Frank Ocean
We took over TV
There have been so many amazing TV shows and movies this year, you’d think it was a conspiracy. This doesn’t even include what the BBC is currently doing with their “Black British” series (although when will we stop being a one-off series in UK TV channels and just become a usual part of the TV schedule?). So of course, America is way ahead in this regard, we already had amazing and powerful shows such as Scandal, Empire and Power.
However, 2016 saw the introduction of shows that don’t centre around racism or the stereotypical black narrative (music/sports/drug dealing).
With Insecure we got just what we needed in a sitcom; showing black people living their lives #noteverydaybigbangtheory #whereweretheblackpeopleinFriends
Admittedly the general plot of the show is about music and drugs – but it still remains a lighthearted black show, which we always need more of. And any scenes about racism are nuanced and subtle so that it doesn’t leave me depressed or angry.
This documentary by Ava Duvernay (director of Selma) is so extraordinary and so important, it should be illegal not to watch it.
*Warning* This did leave me depressed and angry
Check out the trailer here.
I shall (reluctantly) have to give some credit to the BBC, as Undercover, which had its first season earlier this year, is amazing.
The show which is inspired by real life events, touches on police brutality, sexism, betrayal and more, with an amazing Black cast.
And many more: -Hidden Figures -Queen Sugar -Moonlight -Luke Cage
When Black girls had too much magic
There have been so many instances of #blackgirlmagic this year, that there are way too much to mention. From the personal achievements, as black women learn to accept their natural hair, to the public, as black women continue to create their own spaces to excel.
This year has been great for black girls empowering each other and loving themselves in a way that society never does.
All the black female Olympians
It barely feels like the Olympics actually happened this year, that’s how eventful 2016 has been.
But it did, and if you should remember anything from those 2+ weeks, it will be that the 2016 Olympics belonged to black women. From Simone Biles breaking records to Simmone Manuel making history.
They came, they slayed and they conquered.
The Knowles Sisters
First sisters ever to have their albums both debut at number one.
Name a more iconic duo, I’ll wait.
gal-dem’s take over
gal-dem is an online magazine and collective of over 50 women of colour, started by Bristol Uni alumni and all round inspiration, Liv Little. In October, gal-dem took over the V&A to offer a magical night of female empowerment, twerking and discussions.
(I wasn’t even there and I was left inspired.)
When we woke up
The effectiveness of the Black Lives Matter campaign is often questioned and the movement undermined. However, even such trolls cannot ignore the impact BLM campaign has had this year as the movement became truly global.
We saw solidarity marches across the world, even in Australia! BLM Canada demanded for change in the Pride parade. BLM UK shut down Heathrow and started a conversation about race in the UK, which is always lacking. #FeesMustFall and the #RhodesMustFall campaigns in South Africa continued to fight for educational equality and the complete destruction of colonial powers.
The fight might seem to be getting harder now, but in reality, 2016 was an awakening for many people and as more people have become more active, it will only get easier.
Overall, it has been a hard year, we have taken many Ls, and we could focus solely on that. Or we could focus on our achievements in spite of the challenges. Personally, I think 2016 has been a year for change and just realising stuff.
As Jesse Williams eloquently put it, Black Americans are the biggest exports from America. But it’s not just limited to America, it is worldwide. Just take our favourite Chicken Connoisseur for example, as he recently said in that awkward ITV interview, he created his content for “his people”. But such creativity is powerful in its mass appeal. And the faster we recognise it and support each other, the harder it is for others to co-opt and appropriate our genius. Already black entertainment dominates pop culture, black entrepreneurs continue to grow, whilst black movements have shaped the world.
Black creativity, resilience and solidarity saved 2016 from an otherwise sad legacy.
2016 has been bad to us, but we’ve been great to 2016.
So you better put some respek on the year.