TIME 100 Lacks Luster Without Cardi or Hussle
My biased take on a list that includes the best and worst of ourselves.
Recently, Time Magazine announced its list of The 100 Most Influential People of 2019. It featured a record-breaking amount of women, and while there were welcomed chocies: Indya Moore, Yalitza Aparicio, and most importantly, Mirian G. Others were, not so great. Seriously, T. Swift?
Noticeably absent were Cardi B and Nipsey Hussle. With both artists having achieved unparalleled iconic status, and the ability to wield a massive influence over their respective following, the omission left some of us wondering why? We know Latinx artists are topping the charts, and the digitalization of the music industry is a process that is finally allowing Black and Brown creatives to force the issue of diversity on all fronts.
So what gives?
While a major effort has been taken within the entertainment and music industries to reverse the lack of representation, it seems like we are stuck in a holding pattern. From the Oscars to the Grammy Awards, artists who are not of color, by sheer virtue of their whiteness, and whose social impact pales in comparison, typically receive the top accolades.
Pause. I know what you’re thinking: didn’t Cardi make the list in 2018?
Well, yes, and Taraji P. Henson wrote a lovely tribute. But that was then, and this is now. Since that time, Cardi has singlehandedly dethroned Beyoncé, which is no small feat mind you, and has used her sharp tongue to drive forward some of the most important conversations in modern culture.
She not only rose to the top, but managed to stay there by being true to herself, and telling her unique story. She repeatedly threads the needle, weaving motherhood and fame, while navigating the complexity of her Afro-Latinx identity and challenging the-data-mining-for-profit-addicted-to-celebrity-drama-climate we are all immersed in.
No one is perfect, but Cardi is someone who chooses to be themselves at their fullest capacity. In doing so she becomes a very important mirror for all of us. It’s this reflection that teaches us most about our humanity. We are reminded that despite our missteps, it’s our resilience and our capacity to evolve that matter most.
Which brings us to Nipsey Hussle. No other male music artist deserved this more. Even before we began mourning his death, the evidence of his profound effect on not just the climate of hip-hop, but also for the underserved communities of Los Angeles was markedly clear. Besides, what could be more influential than the power to bring two warring factions of the same community together out of respect for a single individual?
Posthumous recognition for Nipsey should not only be based on his financial acumen, or the willingness to bet on himself. It should extend beyond: a harkening to the evolution of a complex individual who, through failures and sometimes questionable views, was willing to remain open minded. As an Eritrean-American, Ermias Asghedom, held dear the ideals of family and fatherhood. Lauren London, his girlfriend of 5 years, spoke of him in high esteem. With respect and humility toward his immigrant roots, he maintained the uncanny ability for practicing what he preached, Nipsey’s tragic passing once again reminds us that a piece of coal can never become a diamond. Ever. They are not the same thing. A diamond is rare from the start.
TIME may have missed bigly by not including him in their list. But we (collectively), have lost one of the most powerful voices of our generation. May he rest in power.