As 2017 comes to a close, we reflect on the words that impacted all of us, for better or for worse.
American leadership made bold communication choices in 2017: Fury replaced diplomacy. Accusations of collusion distracted from the truth. Covfefe gave us some much needed comic relief in an era of Presidency by Tweet. (No, we’re not adding it to the dictionary…at least not yet.)
As if Covfefe wasn’t enough of a public SNAFU, the Oscars announced the wrong Best Picture (oops), former Press Secretary Sean Spicer forgot about the horrors of the Holocaust, and President Trump looked directly at the sun during the solar eclipse. (We all wanted to, but he actually did)
Visibility of white nationalism and other extreme ideologies exploded in the U.S. this year. Groups like the so-called alt-right blurred the line between free speech and promotion of violent ideologies.
We were also all reminded that misogyny is still alive and well in the U.S. Several men in positions of power were exposed through sexual harassment and abuse accusations. The days of the casting couch are clearly not over.
Let’s put this into perspective: Misogynist was one of our top searches during and after President Trump’s inauguration.
While violent threats against marginalized groups, including women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community, were prevalent, we also saw huge strength and courage from those fighting back.
The Women’s March may have been the largest demonstration in U.S. history: An estimated 5 million people marched the day after President Trump’s inauguration, protesting sexism and misogyny in America and in the White House.
Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 protest, calling out systemic injustices toward people of color in America, gained even more traction in 2017 with #TakeAKnee
This isn’t the first year we’ve experienced environmental crisis, but active dismissal of climate change brought it into the spotlight: Devastating hurricanes swept through the U.S. and Puerto Rico. And yet, information on climate change was removed from the EPA’s website this year, signalling a dismissal of environmental science
Power trumped science in 2017.
Globally, millions of refugees face an equally terrifying crisis: Fleeing nations in which they are being displaced and murdered by the hundreds of thousands
We faced many unprecedented events in 2017: A mass shooting in Las Vegas killed more people than any single-shooter massacre in American history; Wildfires in Northern California became the most destructive in California history and had the highest death toll of any U.S. fires in nearly 100 years.
And yet, refusal to be complicit has been a grounding force in 2017.
Our choice of Word of the Year is as much about what is visible as it is about what is not. It’s a word that reminds us that even inaction is a type of action. The silent acceptance of wrongdoing is how we’ve gotten to this point. We must not let this continue to be the norm. If we do, then we are all complicit.