Time magazine was once upon a time a legitimate news sources that gave many people around the world and across Africa insight into America and the world at large. Over years, the paper is no longer the premier news magazine and has been replaced by the Economist and if there is any indication why this once respected news magazine has fallen is no other than the 100 Most Influential People list that they just published. Their list is a reflection that the once regarded news magazine now takes its place only a slight notch above tabloids and gossip news sources.
In the 2014 issue they have categorized the most influential people under the headings of Titans, Leaders, Arts, Entertainers. The number of black people on the list was less than 10 across all the continents. The most insulting of course was labelling Beyoncé the video vixen and symbol of sexuality and poster child of the hyper sexualized African-American woman. To add insult to injury they had Sheryl Sandberg who started the Lean In movement to encourage more women to pursue careers in male dominated environments such as technology and leadership writing the editorial of why Beyoncé deserved the title of titan. Sandberg would never describe Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry as titans she would reserve that for people with real accomplishments and companies on the New York Stock Exchange. The only other person that Time should reserve that the title of Titan for is someone along the lines of Aliko Dangote, the Nigerian billionaire business magnet who controls almost all the cement production in Africa. How about that? In that category other races and nationalities who were labelled as Titans were: Janet Yellen (Chairperson of the Federal Reserve, Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO), David and Charles Koch (Influential Businessmen and funders of Republican and Conservative causes) and Hillary Clinton (Potential Democratic Party Nominee for 2016). At what point did Beyonce fit into this narrative of Titans???
The other so called influential person was Jason Collins, the sub-par and grossly mediocre NBA player whose claim to fame is declaring his sexual orientation. His statistics are nowhere close to the all-time greats such as Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan or Will Chamberlain but somehow this man has a spot as a ‘Pioneer’ among the most influential people. Imagine for just a minute if some mediocre NBA player announced he was a polygamist, he would be labelled every negative adjective but Jason Collins gets the red carpet. No one chastises him for the eight years of Carolyn Moos life that he wasted knowing he did not want to be with a woman or the heartache he must have caused her by proposing and then calling off the wedding. There is nothing great about this kind of abuse and bad behavior towards women.
Then there is the nun, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe who runs an orphanage in Uganda. All the people who were polled for this article had never even heard of her and wondered where besides her village was this nun influential? The article was written it seems to promote the image of the poor needy Africans who need to be rescued. While there is always room for helping those in need I think Time Magazine has misused the term influential only when it comes to people of African descent. Time Magazine chose to continue perpetuating the narrative of the African in need of aid from some wealthy western country.
This is not new in media but nonetheless we have to shame those who perpetuate it. In the early 2000s American Sunday talk shows often followed a similar pattern. The format for those who wanted to appear to offer diverse voices it always turned out were a middle aged Euro-American male an expert of sorts, a professor and another a community advocate usually from one of those Washington think tanks and a policy wonk and then for the black voice for some reason they would always have a rapper, an actress or someone who couldn’t finish high school or dropped out of college. While educational credentials are not entirely a prerequisite for speaking on issues, It often shortchanges black people when incompetent people are labelled the spokespeople for the black community. It may have been understandable if the other talking heads had been rappers or musicians or entertainers but to have a panel where the others are all experts with years of research and experience in a field talking to some rapper about the news of the day was disgusting and a further dismissal of the African-American experts who were sidelined. It was not that there were a shortage of such experts in the African-American community it was just a sinister plot, part of the media conspiracy to make African-American experts invisible and give platform to some uninformed entertainer.
There were no business men or women or entrepreneurs or top doctors or even business executives on the Time Magazine list who really are influential, the ones that actually make decisions that affect millions of people and not these people but of course this is all part of the media conspiracy and why the lion must have its own historian.
Worthy notables on the list include Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ory Okolloh co-founder of Uhsahidi, Thuli Madonsela, Eartharin Cousin head of the UN World Food Program and World Tennis Champion Serena Williams. Of Course, they didn’t get any Time Magazine covers for their actual influence.