Unless you have spent the last year asleep, you would likely agree that 2020 sucked. The pandemic disrupted every part of life — work, play, family — while underlying political issues festered and grew. From the cancellation of March Madness and the postponement of the Summer Olympics to state lockdowns, the closing of bars and theaters, and social distancing, 2020 will go down in history books as one of the worst years in recent history.
What made 2020 truly unbearable, though, is the people we lost. This is the year that saw us lose music legends Little Richard and Bill Withers, civil rights icons John Lewis and C.T. Vivian, and actors Tommy “Tiny” Lister and Ja’Net DuBois. The most painful part of this, however, is the realization that for some, we will never know what they could have succeeded. From Chadwick Boseman to Pop Smoke, there is a sense that their loss may have robbed us all of something special.
The effects of racism, especially in the case of a death, are more noticeable in the Black community than in any other race group. The recent protests over the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks, to name just a few, highlight the problem many police forces have with false threat assessment within the Black community. With many police officers trained to have a military mentality to policing, there’s an increased likelihood that an officer will walk into an encounter with a Black individual afraid and willing to use violent force. Couple this with policing taking an aggressive stance to calls for reform (in a five-month period, there were over 950 incidents of violence toward police-brutality protestors), and you have a situation where even the wealthiest members of the Black community are shy to call the police. This leaves all of us wondering what could have been if help was more readily available. This type of disenfranchisement hits even harder, considering that this is a community that has also been ravaged by increased rates of cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
This list will look at some of the stars the Black community recently lost too soon. These stars left us wondering how big they could have been if given a chance.