Phew. It’s feeling a little like Groundhog Day with the imminent threat of more restrictions, Covid wrecking all our plans and no sign of a white Christmas in sight (for Londoners at least). Nonetheless, it’s always useful to reflect on the past year to see what’s changed and how we’ve grown. My annual review of the shit-show that was 2020 managed to end on a positive note. My 2021 review is a round up of major headlines and moments that defined 2021 for me. Whatever your beliefs, can we all join hands in prayer for a better year ahead? Amen.
2021 Review: The News that Defined My Year
We started the year with another lockdown, thanks to a surge in Delta cases. Covid has crashed into Christmas with yet another wave (4th? 5th? I’m losing count). The variant that sounds like a 90s R&B singer or a Bond villain’s HQ has become the dominant strain in London and the UK. It’s led to travel bans and venues shutting down… some sadly for good. Our family was supposed to travel to Nigeria for my mother-in-law’s funeral, followed by a much-needed Jamaica vacation. We were desperately sad to cancel/postpone our trips but I remain grateful for the little things. Also grateful to have quick and easy access to Covid booster shots.
Remember watching in horror as a mob of angry, entitled, White militants stormed the US Capitol? And Jay Kay from Jamiroquai was trending on Twitter until he had to distance himself from that pack? It’s astonishing to view those clips again and to think what might have happened if that had been a group of BLM protestors or Muslim men rushing the building. The whole saga was like a bad movie or a page ripped from Ijeoma Oluo’s book Mediocre. I have resolved to stop trying to carry myself with ‘the confidence of a mediocre White man’ and to move through life with the swagger of a Nigerian auntie instead. After all, I am a Nigerian auntie!
Black Girl Magic
In stark contrast to the above, 2021 also gave us peak moments of #BlackGirlMagic. Amanda Gorman dazzled us with her recital of The Hill We Climb at President Biden’s inauguration. Kamala Harris became the first African American and Asian American US vice president. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala became the first woman and the first African director of the World Trade Organisation. Simone Biles showed us the true meaning of strength. Debbie Allen earned a well-deserved Governors Award at the Emmy’s. And Michaela Coel won too (Writing for a Limited Series or Movie) and gave us the perfect speech.
Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jason Sancho stepped up like three kings at the England v Italy match. They got tons of online hatred but also a tidal wave of support. I was glued to Olympics 2020 and superstars like Adam Peaty and Momiji Nishiya. Lewis Hamilton was pipped to the post in a controversial decision but remains the GOAT according to fans. Emma Raducanu made history as the first British woman to win a Grand Slam title since 1977.
Rest in Peace
In 2021, we said farewell to some memorable figures including Michael K Williams. Cicely Tyson. Sarah Harding (Girls Aloud). Prince Philip. Biz Markie. DMX. Charlie Watts. Olympia Dukakis. Helen McCrory. Greg Tate. Charles Grodin. Virgil Abloh. Willie Garson. bell hooks. It’s also the year that women took to the streets in hundreds and thousands for Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and all the unnamed women who have died at the hands of violent men. Derek Chauvin was convicted and imprisoned for the killing of George Floyd and I cried tears of relief and heartbreak.
The rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans and the Atlanta spa shooting leads to Stop Asian Hate rallies worldwide. The monstrous Bill Cosby is released on a technicality. R Kelly finally goes behind bars. The campaign to free Britney Spears gains steam and she’s released from her 13-year conservatorship. Ahmaud Arbery’s killers go down. But Kyle Rittenhouse gets acquitted. Here in the UK, Boris and his cronies get people enraged about Christmas parties at No.10 last year. Meanwhile the government slips a racist and xenophobic Clause 9 into the Nationality and Borders Bill that could strip citizenship from millions of Brits without warning. Help fight it by adding your signature to the petition HERE.
2021 Review: 21 Moments that Defined my Year
- Writing a children’s picture book and crying tears of joy when I saw the first artwork for it. The book hits shelves in summer 2022 —watch this space.
- Getting an invitation from NASA! The Johnson Space Centre parenting community had me as a guest speaker on anti-racist parenting. And later voted my talk as one of their Top 5 impactful events of 2021!
- Publishers Weekly (the industry bible) honouring Bringing Up Race with a *starred review* ahead of its US launch. Whoop!
- Babes About Town appearing on Vuelio’s Top 10 UK Mum Blogs, Top 20 Parenting Blogs & Top 10 London Lifestyle Blogs (at no. 3)!
- Being interviewed by the wonderful Gretchen Rubin for her blog and also for her online course, The Happiness Project Experience.
- The fabulous Joy Cho (Oh Joy) praising Bringing Up Race to her 445k+ followers on IG.
- Writing How to Say My Name, a poem for those of us told we have ‘difficult’ names. The poem got a lot of love on social media. I also consulted on an episode about names for BBC children’s TV show Molly and Mack.
- This blog post after that Meghan & Harry interview and this post on Instagram that had 100k+ reach.
- Ezra doing work experience with me and writing two great posts on teenage fun in London and football racism.
- Having my wisdom teeth taken out. Experiencing the agony of a dry socket.
- A late summer trip to Herne Bay. Our first family break since 2019.
- My lovely niece Nuli visiting from Lagos and spending a week with us. I took the kids trampolining and to ride dodgems at Somerset House.
- Being interviewed for Tom Lamont’s brilliant Observer New Review cover story on How to Raise a Boy.
- Young Albie making a school poster of me for Black History Month.
- Partying till we dropped at the Groucho and spending an unexpected night there too (thanks Mark & Dee)!
- Appearing on multiple social media live chats, podcasts and panels & delivering more than a dozen talks on anti-racism and inclusion to schools, councils and corporations.
- Celebrating the 20th anniversary edition of IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain and being interviewed by Five Dials literary magazine for its IC3 special feature.
- Becoming a godmother to Florence Broadbent, aka Honest Baby. Can’t wait to meet her in 2022!
- Brittle Paper’s thrilling review of Bringing Up Race and my Meet the Author spotlight.
- Compiling and editing a book of 130+ tributes for my beautiful mother-in-law Mina, who sadly passed away on October 1.
- Setting and smashing my reading target of 21 Books in 2021.
Here’s wishing you all a safe, healthy and restful Christmas and New Year x