We all know 2014 had it’s low points. We saw some of the worst in people, and some of the best in people this year. With social injustice running prevalent it’s often hard to see the slight progress being made. But we have a feeling 2015 might just be the year things start to change for the better, and there has been major signs of progress within the last few months to prove it.
1. People are becoming more trans/queer aware.
Within the past year we saw huge strides being made in the trans community world-wide. More and more countries are expanding their legal definition of gender to be more inclusive and solidifying rights for the transgender community, making them more visible on a much bigger platform. Even here in the U.S., just recently, New York residents can now change the sex marked on their birth certificate without having to go through reassignment surgery first; which is often a struggle when coming to terms with one’s gender identity. (You go New York. Four for you!) Even on the pop culture front there’s a wave of change; just last month Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie‘s biological daughter, stepped out onto a red carpet for Jolie’s film, Unbroken, wearing a suit and tie, and apparently has been asked to be called “John”. The Jolie-Pitt’s have commented about this before and essentially said they accept her for who their daughter is and that she’s so much more than what she chooses to identify as. Now that’s some progressive parenting.
2. Social media is becoming more socially conscious.
Just this week, the social media outlet had to issue an apology for one of it’s more recent and annoying features that had been shoved down our newsfeed when certain users were offput by what they saw in their “Year in Review” scroll. One man, Eric Meyer, was obviously very distraught when he saw his daughter whom he’d lost in the past year pop up on his personal scroll and wrote an open letter on his blog saying though he understood it was unintentional it was still quite an uncomfortable experience, and the same could be said for other users. Meyer later wrote his own apology for making such a big deal about it, but we’re glad Facebook did some apologizing as well. And remember that whole name-policing a few months back? They apologized for that too. We forgive you, Facebook.
3. Women of color are being empowered and better represented in the music industry.
From Beyonce to FKA twigs, Janelle Monae, Tinashe and Nicki Minaj, it was a good year in music for women of color. Whether it was owning their sexuality and speaking their truth unapolagetically like with Minaj’s recent smash The Pinkprint, or exploring uncharted genres with new sounds like British synth-songstress FKA twigs, 2014 brought recognition to a community of women often misunderstood, fetishized, pigeonholed and discriminated against. And if this interview on The Queen Latifah show doesn’t prove some progress has been made (or doesn’t bring you to tears), I’m not sure what will.
4. The movie industry is finally taking some initiative.
With the recent banning of the projected holiday blockbuster epic, Exodus: Gods and Kings from several countries (including the one it’s set in; Egypt), the movie industry is being forced to acknowledge it’s lack of representational accuracy as far as racial depiction goes (I mean, an entire movie set in Africa with ZERO African/African-American cast members… Come on). And in the same year we saw a new interpretation of an iconic film role with the movie Annie, starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx, and new movies set to release next year featuring casting choices like the ever sensual and charming Idris Elba who is going to be playing agent 007 a.k.a. James Bond, and actor (strike that, heartthrob) Michael B. Jordan who will be playing Johnny Storm in the latest reinterpration of Marvel’s Fantastic Four franchise. Granted, many people are up in arms over some of these casting choices, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction; away from typecasted roles and towards equality.
So despite the many injustices we’ve all seen play out in the past year in the media, these small signs towards change and progress might just give us a look into what 2015 will be like. And if that’s the case, it might just be a Happy New Year, after all.