It’s the end of the year and that means lots of lists about what stories were the most important.
As with any list, it’s only one person’s opinion, and so is this one from me of the top five most important stories when it came to race relations in America in 2014.
Numbers 5 comes from the world of Entertainment.
It involves hacked emails of Sony and Hollywood executives who joked about the movies President Obama might find interesting like Django Unchained and 12 Years a Slave.
Some say the emails were racially insensitive.
Others, like producer, director and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes called the emails down right racist.
Rhimes tweeted, “Calling Sony comments ‘racially insensitive remarks’ instead of ‘racist’? U can put a cherry on a pile of sh*t but it don’t make it a sundae.”
However you perceive the emails, what they did was serve to expose to the world the lack of diversity in Hollywood, and how critical it is that the industry begins to address the issue.
Number 4 comes from the Sports world.
After Donald Sterling, the former owner of the LA Clippers was caught on tape, by his self-described girlfriend, saying some pretty disparaging things about black people, the NBA moved to remove Sterling as owner and sold the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The Sterling saga was an undeniable, in your face example of the backwards thinking that some people in America harbor towards minorities, especially towards black people.
Number 3 is about Culture.
One figure, who also happens to be from the world of sports, garnered the most attention in this category – Sir Charles Barkley.
Barkley argued this about the N word.
“Well black people use it among themselves. It’s in rap records. Listen what I do with my black friends is not up to white America to dictate to me what’s appropriate and inappropriate.”
Then he said this on CNN about police and racial profiling.
“There’s a reason they racially profile us at times. Sometimes it’s wrong. But sometimes it’s right. So to act, to sit there and act like we hold no responsibility for some of this stuff is disingenuous.”
However you feel about Barkley, at the very least, his comments this year served to underscore the false perception that African Americans are monolithic on cultural issues.
Number 2 comes from the political realm.
In February The President unveiled his ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative.
The initiative is aimed at helping young men and boys of color succeed.
The President said the program “goes to the very heart of why I ran for President.”
In that same speech the President shared deeply personal experiences of his childhood, using drugs and making excuses.
That initiative and that speech were right on target, especially for many who helped put him into office.
And the number one story involves law enforcement and the justice system.
That story is still playing out in cities around the country.
It involves protesters who have taken to the streets demanding an end to police brutality.
This story is important for many reasons, but one notable one is that it has ignited the passion of mostly young people of all different ethnicities to get involved and take charge of their own destinies.
And no matter how you feel about the circumstances which lead them to protest, it has become increasingly evident that the perception of social and political apathy among America’s youth, at the moment, is an outdated one.