Beyonce, LeBron James, Kendrick Lamar, Maya Angelou. These idols, according to Google’s statistics, are some of the most searched individuals in the United States. Beyonce has the most searched performance, Lebron James is the most searched athlete, Kendrick Lamar is the most searched Pulitzer Prize winner, and Maya Angelou is the most searched female poet. This level of renown is a remarkable achievement, especially given that each of these people are Black, and have thus had to combat the stereotypes and discrimination that is still present in our modern society.
On January 26th, 2020, during the 62nd Grammy Awards, Google released their 2020 Black History Month commercial – and the internet responded in adulation. The commercial’s theme was “most-searched” black individuals and moments in the United States from 2004 to 2019. Other individuals and moments given the spotlight in the commercial include Serena Williams as the most searched tennis player, Gregory Hines as the most searched tap dancer, and Michael Jordan’s 1988 slam dunk as the most searched dunk.
The main focus of the commercial is that despite all of the opposition that black people have faced, and still face, they defied the odds and have become some of the most influential and popular people of this generation.
“I think the message was to convey how often famous Black people are looked to in some form for inspiration and aspiration from those who are searching for them,” said Bronx Science English teacher, Ms. Raven Wilhelm. Despite all the pressure from society and government throughout America’s muddled and sometimes deplorable history, these black individuals have risen to the top, defying all stereotypes and anyone who ever told them that they could not fulfill their dreams because of their skin color. In doing this, they became icons of inspiration for others who may have to overcome opposition in order to achieve their dreams.
Bronx Science is consistently making strides in growing the appreciation of different cultures amongst our student body, a prime example being the recent Cultural Day. Our institution also fosters many clubs centered around different cultures or minority groups. One of these clubs is The Black Organization for Student Strength / West Indian Society (BOSS/WIS), run by President Melody Moulton ’20. “The commercial appeared to be very well thought out and showed appreciation for the many different powerful ways black people have contributed to the arts, science, sports, and other fields in a way that was unique to Google,” said Moulton.
People on Twitter erupted in ecstasy over the commercial, admitting it brought tears to their eyes and pride to their hearts. One comment from Twitter user @Ky_TheOtherHalf reads, “I shed a few tears watching the Google commercial. Black is so powerful. It is such an honor to be black. With EVERYTHING against us, we are the pioneers…” . Another comment, from @peac_hy, states, “…The amount of #BlackExcellence in this commercial is making me cry tears of joy. We have truly come a LONG way… may we KEEP breaking barriers and being GREAT!”
Google has received a great deal of praise for its commercial. Many Bronx Science students felt the same way. “I really liked the commercial because it shines a light on the amount of influence black people have had culturally and globally. For a long time, black culture has been suppressed and underrepresented, so it was very admirable of Google to create a commercial with prominent black figures,” said Dorothea Dwomoh ’22.
Despite the praise the commercial has received, some believe that it could have been improved. “I think given the recent losses within the Black community, people who could have been included were Toni Morrison, Kobe Bryant, John Singleton, and Nipsey Hussle. They impacted not only the Black community, but many communities because of the fields outside of entertainment, literature, or sports that they were in,” said Wilhelm. “I felt the commercial could have been improved by including more accomplishments in the scientific and academic fields because many people know about black success in the context of music and sports, but not necessarily in more academic fields,” said Moulton.
Dwomoh also said, “I think if they added Michael Jackson and Barack Obama, then the commercial would have been stronger. But, Google did enough by making this commercial in the first place.” It can be well agreed that despite the few people who were left out, the commercial is still very commendable.
In summary, Dwomoh and Wilhelm leave us with important things to remember: “It is important to keep in mind that we shouldn’t only admire these people for their popularity and the amount of attention they had garnered over the internet. We should not think of their influence and impact in terms of Google searches and likes, but rather the lasting changes that they made.” As a last thought, Wilhelm reminds us, “I think it’s important to remember that people of color helped to create the foundations of this country, and taking more than just a month to celebrate the diverse cultures that make up American society is essential to paying homage to where we all originated. Especially in response to the current political climate and societal implications for the government policies that are further separating us as an American people.”
“I think it’s important to remember that people of color helped to create the foundations of this country, and taking more than just a month to celebrate the diverse cultures that make up American society is essential to paying homage to where we all originated,” said Bronx Science English teacher Ms. Raven Wilhelm.