Every month I will highlight a Black artist, form of entertainment, business, or social media personality to help to spread awareness of Black Excellence. Be sure to check here on the 2nd of every month!
All year "The Ratchedemic" has been shining a spotlight on businesses, shows, sites, schools, books, and of course people who show examples of prime Black Excellence in their everyday lives. From January to now, I have researched and interviewed to make people more aware of some amazing people and things in this world, but now as the year ends I would like to take a look back at all the excellence we have seen, and talk about how they all have continued to be excellent even today. Great Scott readers, we're going back through the spotlights!
We're going to take a trip down memory lane and reexamine the group spotlights first. These were the five spotlights that looked at a number of different shows, businesses, books, schools, and sites and talked about how they have played a part in promoting excellence.
In January when the site first started I introduced everyone to the idea of Monthly Spotlights by discussing eight web series that feature predominately (and in many cases all) Black casts. These shows are often written and produced by Black artists and are many times the exact type of positive Black programming that many of us miss. Perhaps the biggest announcement among these web series is the movement of Black and Sexy TV to the real TV station BET, proving that despite what many have to say about the network it is at least trying to show Blackness in ALL its forms.
In Black History Month we went shopping at a few Black owned businesses, this year clothing stores. Several of the clothing stores have updated their catalogs and have rededicated themselves to supporting the Black community in this time of strife (HauteGreeksCouture and Rachel Stewart Jewelry immediately come to mind), and at least one of the store owners under this spotlight has placed their items in brick and mortar stores (Congrats Moziah Bridges!)
April Showers brought out the bloggers with six Blogs with a Purpose. Though a few of these blogs have eased up on posting, and at least one has completely shut down, the ones that remain still are focused on bringing awareness and saying what they feel needs to be said. As long as our opinions on issues differ and we have internet access, you can bet that Blogs with a Purpose will keep popping up, and we all should continue to follow them.
After a two month break the group spotlights picked back up in July with six little known HBCUs. I've talked time and time again about my support for HBCUs of all shapes and sizes, and this month's spotlight focused on some that may be ignored by the mainstream but are still doing the work to make their campuses inviting and productive to students. In the world we live in today, a spotlight like this couldn't be more on time.
Another two months passed before we got the last group spotlight of the year (well, before this one): Black Speculative Fiction. As you all know I write and love fantasy, science fiction and horror, and whenever Black Speculative Fiction Month comes around I have to pay homage to the greats, like Octavia Butler and Charles Chesnutt, as well as fellow newcomers like Rashid Darden. Most of these books are still available via Amazon, so why not pick up a good interesting one during the break?
Now we have to get to what I'm sure you all have been waiting for: what happened to all those cool people that I interviewed over the year? Well, let's see what happened to those people.
Jerrilyn Lake is back on social media after a small hiatus, and though her posts have slacked up she is still using her platform to promote maturity, growth, and inspiration, and all the while still giving you the laughs you need to get through your days. She's also still singing and still popping up with other Instagram comedians, so you know that whatever mood you're in Tiny will be there to help you through it!
Jamie Hall of J.Hall Photography still has his magic eye going. He has increased his clientele and is busy learning new tricks of his trade, but still offers the same affordable pricing. As his undergrad career starts to end he is looking for ways to make his business even more profitable, so stay on the lookout. You can bet that so long as people want to look good and feel good, he will be there to show them exactly what that looks like.
The songbird Stephanie Peyton is still performing and still making music and moves. Her current stint as a performer in an Atlanta area play "Black Nativity" proves that she is prepared to use her gifts in any way she can. It and her Soundcloud music will have to suffice for now, but make sure you keep some dollars on hand for Heart Cries, her upcoming album!
It was another semester of graduate school gone by for August spotlight Kyle R. Fox. So long as there are students to teach, papers to be written, and information to be learned he will be there to pass on the knowledge he has gained from his mentors and community. Kyle also continues to be an inspiration to those he teaches and those he surrounds himself with to reach for their goals and be their authentic selves, so the good work is also still being done.
September spotlight Jerjuanna Fountain must never sleep. While most people would have spent their birthday month "turning up", she was organizing a regional service project under the hashtag #JerjuannaCecilleBdayGift, where she encouraged all those that knew her to get her the gift of service for her 25th birthday. Even now she still works to produce newscasts and is cooking up another big service project, so you know that hers is a name to know.
It may seem like we just talked about him, but even in that short of a time last month's spotlight Shantoni Holbrook has done more. He just recently released a new dance video and is surely cooking up even more. Now that his win in the #WillYouDance contest is getting him even more exposure you can bet that you'll see him dancing on your TV screen sometime very soon.
The people and groups under the spotlight in 2015 show that despite what the world may try to do to downplay our talents, contributions, and success, there are still people out here proving them wrong. I personally am blessed and grateful to know so many amazing people, but I know that so many of you also know some great folks. So for 2016, I'm asking my readers to nominate any people or give any suggestions on groups to be spotlighted so that we can let our lights shine even in these dark times. Send your nomination or idea to firstname.lastname@example.org and who knows, maybe they will be under the spotlight next.