Top Events that Shaped the Year
After a year of recovery from the social and political onslaught that was Covid-19, for many including myself it was a chance to experience a semblance of normalcy. That’s not to say 2022 didn’t reveal stark social differences and political events.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Arguably, the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th was the most impactful event of 2022. Insecure over Ukraine’s budding relationship with NATO members, Russia launched a “special military operation” to force the “demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.” No one expected that Ukraine could sustain itself over the Russian onslaught. Still, nearly a year later, Ukrainians have demonstrated true patriotism and stripped the globe of political and economic tranquility – disrupting supply chains, displacing millions of citizens, price increases, and food shortages. The conflict has opened discussion over western allyship. In many ways, this conflict has turned the world upside down.
Queen Elizabeth II dies
The longest-English reigning monarch died at age 96. For many, her death symbolized the end of the modern colonial era, embodying the very disintegration of the commonwealth; after all, the monarch extensively carried out her royal duties. Beautiful on the outside, the royal institution that was British colonialism was ugly for millions of Black and Brown people worldwide. Simultaneously, many in the commonwealth felt a sense of loss and grief; Queen Elizabeth was always a constant in the commonwealth and former English colonies, the epitome of perfection. Elizabeth II embodied the remnants of prolonged oppression from India to the West Indies, her death symbolizing a more equal, lenient, and better United Kingdom – an embodiment of equality when nations bed institutional oppression and long-standing colonialism.
Elon Musk takes on Twitter
After a long battle with Twitter, Elon Musk bought the company for $44 billion. His takeover resulted in mixed reactions among many Twitter users. The business tycoon fired CEO Parag Agarwal, CFO Ned Segal, and head of legal policy, trust, and safety Vijaya Gadde. A series of reports suggested he intended to fire 75% of the company’s employees. Most notably, Musk claimed “free speech” but reinstated many far-right wing politicians such as former president Trump while censoring and suspending the accounts of journalists based on fragile pretext. His takeover, in many ways, symbolizes a negative shift for the freedom of expression – where one man can control who chooses to express and who cannot – Musk’s takeover of Twitter suggests a culture of censorship in the future.
The UK gets its first Indian Origin PM
The UK had a most dramatic 2022, losing its beloved Queen and having three Prime Ministers in one year. But, on Diwali – a day of light, many families said they had something new to celebrate; the news that Rishi Sunak, a person of Indian descent, will become prime minister, the first person of color to hold Britain’s highest political office. As many as 1.5 million people of Indian descent live in England and Wales, making them the largest ethnic group after white Britons. Britain is home to vibrant and diverse individuals from the Indian diaspora. So, Mr. Sunak’s win as Britain’s Prime minister marks a significant milestone for minority populations, formerly colonized countries, and people of color in the West, whose long struggle against racism and prejudice is rarely a prominent issue in Britain and western politics. Britain ruled as a colony for nearly a century before India won independence in 1947. It is a great accomplishment that a formerly colonized nation now has an Indian-origin PM dictating its politics – it marks the modern change.
Iran uprising against hijab mandate
According to Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights, Iranian forces have killed at least 448 people after protests erupted across Iran starting September 16, when the country’s morality police killed Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, in custody for not wearing her hijab properly. The Islamic republic labeled the protests “riots” and deployed security forces. Iranians, cutting across social, class, and ethnic lines, marched to the slogan, “Women, life, freedom,” and many women across the world adopted the political symbolism of cutting their hair in public — a statement against oppression and one in honor of Amini.