As the new year approaches self-reflection is natural and setting goals is an almost mandatory practice. It’s usually the first thing people ask after wishing you a ‘Happy New Year’. Some view a new year’s resolution with a certain derisive scepticism but I find it a popular yet important tradition to continue to strive to be better and improve every year. Despite the fact that New Year’s Resolutions may not always make it through the year, and that we inevitably begin to doubt ourselves or take on the doubts of others, we can find strength and inspiration if we just remember the past.
Some really remarkable things happened in 2018 affecting the african diaspora but let’s start off by addressing possibly the highest profile source of representation inspiring the african diaspora globally.
Black Panther was awe-inspiring, beautifully written, intentionally intersectional, an almost all-black cast, a visionary black director and A MOVEMENT. The film did not only inspire and affect the film industry but addressed xenophobic, anti-black and sexist sentiments that became more prominent due to the socio-political climate in 2018. The cast on their promotional run went on to initiate important conversations about representation, the effects of colonialism, xenophobia and pan-africanism.
In sports, LaBron James opened the I Promise School, his vision is to house 240 underprivileged kids in his hometown Akron, Ohio. When he was growing up James missed 83 days of school in fourth grade because his family did not have a car several families offered their support and the following year he started playing basketball. He wants to create a family environment and hopes the school will help kids who are falling behind in education and struggling at home.
There were some amazing pro-black literary advancements in 2018 such as: Becoming by Michelle Obama, Brit-ish by Afua Hirsh and Rise Up: The #Merky Story so far by Stormzy. As a collective, all three books are inspirational and clear evidence that it is possible to follow your passion and succeed.
Becoming was a necessary read and a prime example of just how far education can take us. Michelle Obama’s beautiful and frank account of all the sacrifices it takes to succeed and all the setbacks and pitfalls that as a woman, especially a black woman you will have to, unfortunately, be willing to face in order to push through.
Brit-ish was an illuminating read and Afua Hirsch didn’t pull any punches or shy away from the questions that many find difficult and sometimes even awkward to address though necessary if we ever want to achieve a truly equal society. Brit-ish teaches us that when it comes to race, ignoring the truths that are sometimes glaringly obvious won’t solve it.
Rise Up, by Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr (or as we all know him ‘Stormzy’) as the title suggest the book was an account of his rise to fame, his story and his message is so important for our generation to know and understand. Stormzy has been very vocal when it comes to the misrepresentation of black youths in London, his opinions about the government and his dedication to levelling the playing field. He has not only launched a Cambridge scholarship for black students, but also a new publishing programme: #Merky Books an imprint of Penguin publishers. His commitment to helping others in the black community is a perfect representation of a good role model.
So as we continue in the New Year, it’s important to remember that we are capable of so much and that we have achieved so many things and will can overcome whatever is placed in our way. This year, you can be your own source of inspiration and when you need it; look to others for it. I implore you to remember this inspiration, the way it made you feel, what it made you believe in, how it led you to act and what it changed about you. In 2018 I will always remember how I felt, the things started to believe in and how that led to set-up a platform for gamers of colour and spread awareness about the lack of diversity in the gaming industry. I set up Melanin Gamers in late October to champion this cause and bring together a community which I hope to grow into a wider community.