With a new administration all settled in, the White House is once again true to its name, as is Congress. Just when we were settling into the idea that the Oscars were a little less white, the Grammy’s were like “hold my beer…” And just last week, when Victoria’s Secret released its 2017 #WhatIsSexy List, it indirectly answered its own rhetorical question with: white people. It’s hard times for people of color who want to be uplifted for their role in politics, society, culture, and art. However, I think it’s safe to say that Time magazine got it right.
The publication just released its annual list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" and I’m happy to report that it reflects one of our greatest human achievements: the fact that we’re not all white. This year’s list is divided into five categories — Pioneers, Artists, Leaders, Titans, and Icons — and each of them flaunt a diverse range of honorees from varying backgrounds.
My hometown hero Chance The Rapper was named among the pioneers for his unique approach to hip-hop and the music industry overall. He is joined by history-making director Jordan Peele, Fresh off the Boat actress Constance Wu, and Riz Ahmed. Viola Davis is finally being recognized for the icon that she is with a touching tribute from Meryl Streep. RuPaul and Colin Kaepernick also received nods for meaning more to our country than their work in their respective fields. LeBron James is now titan alongside Jean Liu. John Legend and Moonlight director Barry Jenkins are both being honored for their artistry in addition to Leslie Jones. The Leaders category, which includes Trump, could use some work. But no one is perfect.
The names I just mentioned are not exhaustive of the people of color included. Not only that, the individuals tapped to pen accolades about this year’s honorees also includes people from all walks of life. The shout-out for fashion designer Raf Simons was penned by rapper A$AP Rocky. Tyra Banks gushed about Ashley Graham, who joined the America’s Next Top Model judges panel in the last cycle. Not only is Time honoring people of color as influential, it also trusts that people of color are among the experts who can support its claims.
I’m inspired by the 2017 honorees and the work that Time put into make sure its list reflects the state of our world, for better or for worse. To all of the other awarding bodies and institutions: This is how it’s done.