The year has come to a close, and there’s no doubt it will go down in history as a groundbreaking period for race relations. The year was one in which minorities broke extraordinary ground in politics, the most famous African American icon in the world died and Disney unveiled the first black princess in its 72-year history. Still, the year was not without controversy. Debates raged about what constitutes reverse discrimination and racial profiling and whether interracial couplings harm children. What else emerged as racial hot buttons this past year? The 2009 timeline below provides insight into the year in review.
Normally the Super Bowl is the main event Americans hustle to get into early in the New Year. Not so in 2009. At the beginning of the year, the inauguration was the place to be. Americans traveled from all over the country to be in Washington D.C. to see the swearing in of the first black president. It was an event Americans wanted to tell their children and grandchildren about someday. For others, such as Ella Mae Johnson, who was 105 on Inauguration Day, the swearing in of Barack Obama was compensation for the virulent discrimination she's endured in life. In January, Johnson told NPR, “I have experienced some of the terrible things that happened to groups, to us and to others.”
sided with the firefighters in a landmark 5-4 ruling. Does this open the door for more reverse discrimination suits in the future?
nonexistent on the network. His album Thriller remains the best selling album of all time, quite a feat during a time when the music of black artists was segregated from the music of white artists on the radio, the airwaves and in record stores. In death, Jackson, who sang, “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white,” was mourned by music lovers of all races worldwide.
The election of Barack Obama as president of the United States paved the way for other people of color to break ground in politics. In May 2009, President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor, raised by a single Puerto Rican mother in the Bronx, to the Supreme Court as a replacement for Justice David Souter. On Aug. 6, 2009, Sotomayor became the first Hispanic judge and the third woman to sit on the court. Her appointment to the court also marks the first time judges from two minority groups—African American and Latino—have served on the court together.
anti-miscegenation laws in 1967, allowing interracial couples nationwide to marry. Forty-two years later, a Louisiana judge decided to violate the law and deny a marriage license to a young couple made up of a black man and a white woman. He said the children produced from such unions suffer. It’s safe to say the judge overlooked that one mixed-race child grew up to be president of the United States. The good news is that, after his refusal to marry mixed couples became public, the judge resigned.
told TMZ.com. “Italian Americans are outraged, and they are helping us reach out to sponsors to ask them to stop advertising with MTV until they agree to pull ‘Jersey Shore.’” While the show has lost advertisers, it’s still on the air. It continues to generate discussions about the perils of ethnic stereotyping.
“The Princess and the Frog” debuted nationwide Dec. 11. The film was Disney’s first with a black heroine. It opened to largely positive reviews and topped the box office its opening weekend, grossing approximately $25 million. Controversy surrounded the film before its release, though. Some members of the African American community objected to the fact that Princess Tiana’s love interest, Prince Naveen, wasn’t black; that Tiana remained a frog for much of the film rather than a black woman; and that the film portrayed Voodoo negatively. Other blacks were simply overjoyed that someone who resembled them was joining the ranks of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and the like for the first time in Disney’s 72-year history.