If right now the only thought about 2016 that comes to mind is “good riddance,” then we don’t blame you. At all. For a lot of us, this year was a less than cheerful reminder of one, our standing as it pertains to our respective races and two, the country that we (sometimes grudgingly) call home.
Since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the black community seems to have been taking hit after hit in the justice department. The low amount of indictments, guilty convictions and jail time doled out to law enforcement have been disproportionate to the amount of black men and women who have died at their hands and guns this year. We’ve lost cultural behemoths across all fields with the passings of Prince, Muhammad Ali, Phife Dawg, Natalie Cole and lead singer of Earth Wind & Fire’s founder, Maurice White. And Election Day 2016 felt like the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.
But through all the fu**ery, there were some luminous moments that happened within the black community. We dug way back in the happy corners of our minds (and consulted Atlantic Records staffer Mike Hamilton’s dutiful cultural tally) to commemorate this year’s yasss-worthy moments of black magic.
Let’s not let the lows dull the shines of the high. Chin up and dive in below. —Stacy-Ann Ellis
47. Mike Yung wins over the web with “Unchained Melody” cover
45. Elaine Welteroth inspires us with EIC position at Teen Vogue
The well-deserved crowing of Elaine Welterorth over at Teen Vogue in May helped usher in a mix of diversity in fashion and entertainment. With cover stars like Yari Shahidi, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglass, readers felt the love, inspiration and black girl magic from Welterworth’s vision. The 30-year-old’s mission crossed over to television when she starred as herself in a nepotism-inspired episode of Black-ish. Her creative and fashionable approach to Teen Vogue is not only an inspiration for the journos out there, but the for the young girls finally identifying with a major figure within mainstream print media.
40. Beyonce honors the Mothers of the Movement in Lemonade and IRL
37. Hip-hop shines during late night circuit
Over the years, hip-hop acts have infiltrated the late night circuit and given us grooves with the help of a live band. This year was no exception. Kendrick Lamar premiered “untitled 03” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Bryson Tiller made his major television debut on Late Night With Seth Meyers and Chance The Rapper revealed a soulful blend of male talent with “Blessings (Reprise)” on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. There were plenty of others who injected beats and rhymes in the living rooms of the masses, proving hip-hop’s continued driving force in American culture.
25. The use of Facebook Live
Facebook’s first ad for their live component might’ve focused on touching moments like a child’s first haircut and exposing hidden talents but overall, the tool has become a driving force in bringing issues of police brutality and the massive #NoDAPL movement to center stage. The tragic aftermath of the shooting death of Philando Castile was captured on the social platform by girlfriend Diamond Reynolds while Korryn Gaines’ final moments were seen by millions. It may not have been what the company had in mind, but the urgent need to film in hopes of justice inspired others to do the same. Protests for Castile and Alton Sterling flooded the platform and Standing Rock allowed the rest of the nation to be informed about the trouble the Dakota access pipeline would have done to sacred tribal lands. The rollout is expected to continue with the current planning of the Million Woman’s March for January 21, 2017 and the inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump.
22. Patience Carter exudes strength after ‘Pulse’ nightclub tragedy