7. Black Activism
Ferguson. Cleveland. Baltimore. Chicago. Minneapolis. Black Lives Matter’s legitimacy was only strengthened by the constant assault by police in cities around the nation on Black bodies. Not only did the police killings of unarmed Black men and women continue, federal investigations and journalism exposès in Cleveland, in Baltimore and in Ferguson documented a pattern of racist policing and policy that permeated departments large and small.
Activists took to the streets, to social media and to the political campaign trail, holding candidates’ feet to the fire and keeping attention focused on the dereliction of duty in many police departments that paid lip service to serving and protecting but instead killed those they were sworn to help.
8. Sandra Bland
After a traffic stop in Texas turned into a verbal altercation, 28-year-old Sandra Bland likely didn’t expect that would also mean the end of her life. Though police said she hung herself in jail when her family couldn’t immediately bond her out, both the traffic stop itself as well as what seemed like the suspicious circumstances of her death had many convinced that something happened to Bland while in custody.
Bland illustrated the fact that Black women are also on the front lines of police brutality and any movement to eradicate police brutality must include them as well. Though the grand jury has decided not to indict the Sheriff’s office or the jail in Bland’s death, there may still be a chance for charges to be filed against the original arresting officer.
What is blackness? Is it something that you can choose? That was the dilemma of observers in the Rachel Dolezal situation. Dolezal, the head of the Spokane NAACP had been passing – for Black. Born white to white parents, Dolezal said that she lived her life as a Black woman, even after attending – and suing Howard University – as a white one.
Dolezal spawned a hilarious Twitter hashtag #AskRachel that provided a list of questions that a truly Black woman would know the answers to. We’re not sure if Rachel was able to get most of them right, but she was soon forced to admit that she had, indeed, been born biologically white. Writer and Black Lies Matter activist Shaun King, was also questioned about his racial identity. Despite denying his critics, his answers remained vague.
As they wind down their time in the White House, the Obamas remain in the high-beam spotlight. When President Obama got testy with critics of his ISIS strategy he used the term ‘pop off’ and set the internet afire. When Malia Obama was potentially caught near a game of Beer pong during a college visit, that made headlines as did Sasha when a high school dance picture that may or may not have been of her surfaced on Instagram.
As for Black Twitter, they continued to provide a space for instant celebrity shade and slander, serious social activism, Black solidarity and often biting critiques of mainstream society’s overt racism. Best hashtags this year: #OscarsSoWhite #AskRachel #BlackLivesMatter #ThanksgivingClapBacks #SlowBlackTracks and #StayMadAbby.