2014: The Year Black Folks Woke Up

2014 has been a transformative year to say the very least.  Personally, I launched my business, traveled extensively for the first time in my life, unexpectedly buried one of my best friends and my grandfather, and launched an online magazine.  Beyond personal endeavors, we saw the ancestral transitions of both Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee, moments that were both mentally and spiritually draining; massive and worldwide protest against Israeli apartheid, and police violence, the global #BringBackOurGirls campaign, as well as countless other milestones and turning points from January until December.  Between all of the tragedies and triumphs, the advancements and setbacks, above all else, and in spite of anything anyone has to say, 2014 should be remembered as the year Black people all over the world, from St. Louis to St. Croix; from Ghana to Gaza – declared a collective “No More.” This is the year that history will remember that We the People, woke the hell up.
The End of Cultural Bootlegging.

2014 was the year Black Folks said OhNawHellNaw to the bootlegging of Black culture.  For so many years – centuries even – Black folks have watched powerlessly as our culture – everything from our music to our food and clothing – was criticized and ostracized when it came from us, and then turned into a monster profit machine that gave little to our causes and nothing to our pockets.  Most recently, many in the Black community denounced Igloo Aztec…Iggy Ashy…Ignorant Areola orwhateva for profiting and proverbially thieving hip-hop culture from us while staying silent on issues that directly impact us.  Everybody wanna be a rapper until it is discovered that rappers – or more specifically hip-hop artist – are more than gold chain-wearing, bottle-poppin things.  They are a voice for a voiceless generation, using their talents to bring attention to our community and our plight when the Civil Rights Movement had died and The Black Power Movement had been infiltrated and destroyed. Q-tip brilliantly broke down the history of  hip-hop and the socio-cultural responsibility that comes with the platform to Igor on twitter recently. Even Jennifer Lopez – AKA the“Convenient Puerto Rican” – even had Igloo in her video twerking and whatnot. Jlo has always tip-toed in and out of cultural appropriation and bootlegging. Remember that time when she thought it not robbery to drop the “N” bomb in “I’m Real?”
Robin Thicke.
Did anything turn your stomach more than Robin Thicke, who has been appropriating Black music since 2005, turned Marvin Gaye’s ‘soul classic’ into the theme song for rape, and then had the audacity to sue  Gaye’s family for rights to a song that had been a hit long before he even knew how to walk? Black folks called him out – as they should have.  I did the tootsie roll in my kitchen when I found out his cd only sold 5 copies.  I’m lyin.
I did the cabbage patch.
Remember that time Hollywood tried to make a movie about ancient Egypt and thought that would be okay to cast no Black people? Yeah…me neither. That’s because Black folks had had all that they could take.  These people just knew that Black people would ignore 45,000 years of history – a history that was long, and rich, and vast before the first white-skinned African would appear in Europe. Last I hear, the movie had grossed less than 30 million worldwide – and it cost over 100 million to make.  I could get a free copy and still only see myself as using it for nothing other than a dust pan and even then, I’d go back to using what I normally use: Old Mitt Romney mailing advertisements. Seriously.
F*ck Da Police {Brutality}.
2014 should go down in the history books as the year Black people said “Enough is Enough!” when it came to senseless, lawless, and often times unprovoked killings of Black women and men.  While we may never know what happened leading up to the death of  Michael Brown, what we do know is the reach white supremacy will stop at nothing to defend the status quo. We saw Black people from all walks of life and from all over the world stand and march in solidarity at not only the death of Mike Brown, but the systemic, coordinated, and exhaustive character assassination that “the media” raged against this brother; criminalizing and justifying his death before he’d even been put in the ground.  If nothing else, Mike Brown’s death and the non-indictment of Daren Wilson should be remembered as the turning point in for Black people in America. Eric Garner ignited international protest and saw Black folks #ShutItDown in Atlanta, DC, Chicago, LA, St. Louis, Detroit, Miami, and Seattle.  I say Black folks but Eric Garner actually united all races against police brutality.  We have to wait and see how the drive-by assassination of Tamir Rice by the Cleveland Police will play out but if Eric and Michael are any indication, we will have to re-arm ourselves with the power of organization, peaceful protest, and economic enactment to get what we deserve – a FAIR opportunity to advance and JUSTICE for our slain.
Back to Black.

The Resurrection of Black Music by Black Artist 
2014 should also be remembered not only as the year we responded to violence and cultural thievery, but it should also be remembered as the year we went back to Black.   We saw the return of good Black music with the London Sessions and The BlackMessiah – and this is just the last two weeks.  The re-emergence of Mary J. Blige and D’Angelo -staples in the tradition of Black musician artistry – got us excited all over again for good music, our music.  2014 also saw the return of the mainstream Hip-Hop artist.  I am going to speak very lightly on this subject because I am not a hip-hop head and my knowledge is very limited. But from what I saw, and from my limited knowledge, we’ve seen the resurrection of hip-hop in the sense that many artist, have used the mainstream stage to bring Guantanamo Bay. David Banner – a fellow Mississippian and social media cultural critic – has used his voice and presence to not only amplify the voiceless and their causes, but took it a step further by producing a movie about African deities that will be out soon. J.Cole recently released what some are calling as one of the best albums of 2014. I have not had the opportunity to sit down and listen to it, but if its anything like his previous albums, I know the content and delivery alone will be worth it. J. Cole was one of the first celebrity/non-actiivist on the scene in Ferguson and used his public appearances to keep the conversation going.  I have even seen some refer to J. Cole as this generation’s Tupac…that may be a bit premature but it can definitely be said that J.Cole is doing more than most.
awareness to causes that adversely impacted Black people.  Mos Def made international news when he brought worldwide attention to the torture-

The Conscious Black Athlete
After the non-indictment of Eric Garner’s murderer, worldwide protest broke out.  Superstar athletes Lebron James and Derrick Rose fearlessly wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts – an ode to Eric Garner’s last words. From the NBA to the NFL, Black athletes used their platform to bring attention to the injustices going on against people of color. We saw Richard Sherman clear any and all who dared call every Black man a “thug,”   The activism of Black athletes is sure to become more and more visible as the collective consciousness of Black people continues to strengthen.  Only time will tell if we’ll ever see the like’s of Muhammad Ali’s activism again. 
TGIT and Black Women in the Media
Shonda Rhimes – a Black woman – owns Thursday night. Not only does Shonda Rhimes – A Black woman – own Thursday Nights, she does so with two Black women in lead roles.  Black people have propelled both Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder to Must See TV. We also saw the return of Tracee Ellis Ross to prime-time in Blackish. Both TLC and Aaliyah – staples of Generation Flex – received much publicized biopics while Oprah Winfrey continues to show her natural Black ass by bringing the much anticipated Martin Luther King biopic to the big screen. We saw a national journalist – Tamron Hall – debut her natural hair on national television.  Solange Knowles emerged as The Dope Knowles girl,  Even Quuen Aretha triumphantly returned to the center stage with Adele’s  Rolling in theDeep and making you forget just who sang that song in the first damn place. (She tends to do that. See: Respect, Son of A Preacher Man, Natural Woman, I Say A Little Prayer)

while Angela Bassett,  Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, and SWV – 90-s favorites – emerged back on the scene.

1.       The Return of Black Walstreet (Kinda).
2014 should also be remembered as the year Black people finally realized that our power – all 1.4 trillion dollars of it, rest in our pockets   Black people protested malls all over  the nation on Black Friday – causing a  drop in sales across the board.  More recently, we say the September 9thBlack Out campaign gain steam as Blacks in America only spent their money on a Black owned Business for one day.  My company kicked off our “Bust A Move Monday” campaign where we encouraged people to only spend their money on Black owned businesses every Monday.  While we are definitely miles away from where we need to be economically, 2014 should be remembered as the year Black people began to get serious about our collective economic survival.

2014 has certainly not been without its heartache.  The deaths of many of our elders and the deaths of many of our youth prompted action from many.  When history looks back, 2014 will be remembered as the year we woke up; our collective conscious aligned itself with a Divine plan that has now begun to reveal itself to many.  While 2014 should be remembered as the year we woke up; 2015 will be remembered as the year that We the People fell B L A C K in love. 

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