While everyone is busy giving out awards that run the gambit, a quick little search on Google for “Black Man of the Year” fails to yield any significant results. So as a result, I thought I would compile my own little list.
Other than combing through the channels of my own mind, I didn’t do a ton of research on this, so I don’t claim to have the most comprehensive list there is. I also didn’t limit myself to people who were doing good. While I understand that the overriding connotation of “Man of the Year” represent someone doing good, I don’t think we should be so limiting. Thus, on my list you might see some characters that aren’t worth a damn in the opinions of some, but they do have a large impact on our society, and that’s why I chose them.
I’m sure I’m missing or forgetting somebody, but I’m only doing a list of 5 people. I hope others will chime in with their thoughts and opinions, as well as a few other suggestions. So without further adieu, and in no particular order, here are my five “Black Men of the Year.”
Tiger Woods – You can say what you want about Tiger Woods, but very rarely do you see a man on Tiger’s level go through the types of highs and lows that Tiger Woods went through in one calendar year. You’re talking about a man who earlier this year was dubbed the first billionaire athlete by Forbes Magazine. He also reaped his biggest year of endorsement money, going well over the $100 million mark, reportedly the most he has ever made in one year. He was named PGA player of the Year. He won the Fed Ex Cup. And the Associated Press has named him not player of the year, but player of the entire decade, in an era where sports has become a bigger part of society than ever before.
And then there was the cheating. Who knew, that Tiger Woods was getting it in on and off the golf course? This man was outted as a serial cheater, and now his wife appears to be on the verge of outing him from her life. In one two-week span of media blitzes, Woods went from being the perfect athlete, role model, endorser and family man to being the biggest jerk on earth. The funny thing is, he’s not the first man to go through this, and nor will he be the last. And despite the level of scrutiny that Tiger faces now, as long as he returns to the level of golf that got him named AP athlete of the decade, he’ll be back to selling golf equipment and endorsing gas-guzzling vehicles in no time.
Barack Obama – Barack’s biggest accomplishment really came in 2008 when he was elected President. In 2009, however, he has yet to surpass last year’s climax, and he has a long way to go before he’ll do so. Still, Obama has done more in one year then just about any black man in the history of the United States of America. From putting a timetable on Gitmo, to putting a time table on the war in Afghanistan, Obama is making is doing his best to eliminate any notion of George Bush from the public conscience.
Of course, Obama’s 2009 will best be remembered for his 6-month push to get health care reform passed. Whether you agree with the bill or not, and certainly I’m not impressed with it in the least, you have to admit that getting any type of health care bill passed in the face of 40 senators that want nothing to do with it is perhaps the biggest piece of legislation of the last 50 years, and there just happens to be a black behind its triumph. Amen to that.
Mike Vick – You might think my background in sports has contributed to Mike Vick’s inclusion on this list. After all, Vick doesn’t belong on the same list as the President of the United States, right? Wrong! In fact, 60 Minutes’ inclusion of Vick on their program this past summer only speaks to just how controversial and populous Mike Vick was in 2009. Of course, Vick was popular for all of the wrong reasons. His dog-killing past that brought legions of animal rights activists and women into the world of sports in 2007 did the same thing in 2009. But instead of the debate focusing on whether Vick would go to jail, the question in ’09 was what he would do when he got out of it.
After finally securing a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles roster, Vick was immediately deemed the devil by area-activists and by the national media as well. Many people said they would boycott Eagles games, protest in the front of the stadium and cast all types of aspersions on the Eagles franchise. But the only thing that materialized were a few boos in Vick’s first couple of games, and it’s been all gravy ever since. Still, Vick’s haven’t gone away. He has become a leading advocate to stop dog fighting in Philly and across the nation, and he has a new reality show set to debut on BET. And don’t you doubt for a second that only sports enthusiasts will be the ones tuning in.
Eric Holder – Obama didn’t waste anytime getting brothas into prominent positions of power with Erick Holder taking the position of the 82nd U.S. Attorney General as the first black man to ever hold down that title. Obviously, his designation had nothing to do with his skin color, as he previously served as the judge of the Superior Court of D.C., U.S. Attorney and U.S. Deputy Attorney General. This was just the next step in the path of greatness for a man that has already accomplished so much.
So what has Holder done since stepping in this position? He only gave one of the most controversial speeches that an Attorney General has ever given. ON February 18, 2009, Holder gave a speech on race relations in the United States saying, “Though race-related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion and though there remain many unresolved issues in this nation, we average Americans simply do not talk enough with each about race.” That comment and other stirred some people up, including Obama who backed off Holder’s comments himself. Still, it makes us all think about the kind of person that we have in a position that oversees the very department that has contributed to the plight of the black race for so long, the United States Department of Justice.
Michael Steele – Last and far from least, we have the RNC Chairman, and the man that serves as America’s anti-Obama. And even though I don’t have a single, black, liberal friend that considers Steele anything other than an Uncle Tom, the man still has a tremendous on effect on blacks and the American society as a whole. Steele leads a Republican party that is in desperate need of a singular voice. And while there are others who combat and challenge him for that leadership role, it stands to reason that when Steele talks, the GOP and the whole nation have to listen.
As I said before, Steele is the anti-Obama. Steele is against healthcare. He is against setting a time table in Afghanistan. He is pro-life. He’s against gay civil unions. He felt the need to apologize to Rush Limbaugh. And in 2004, he gave the counter speech to Obama’s 2004 speech as the keynote speaker for the Republican National Convention. Why do I bring all of this up? Because these are the very positions that keep black people from supporting Steele and his success with the “other” party. At the same time, however, his participation with the Republican Party has opened up many eyes and a few doors for black people to walk though. And who knows; by the end of Steele’s reign as RNC Chairman, there may be just enough blacks in the Republican Party to get the next GOP candidate into office. And who knows; that very candidate could be the very man who got blacks to open their minds to the idea of becoming a Republican.
So what do you think of the list? I can already think of a few people that were worthy, but who do you think I should have included?