Man of the Year, 2006: Keith Ellison (D, MN)
Not only because he was part of the Democratic broom which swept the Republicans from the leadership of both houses of Congress this fall. Not only because I enjoy the (in some quarters) incongruous image of an African American Catholic-turned-Muslim representing the Great White North of Minnesota. But because, after being attacked by the ignorance of CNN's Glenn Beck ("And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.'" 14 November 2006), and having to defend himself against the racist, anti-immigrant rantings of both congressman Virgil Goode (R, VA) ("The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran"), radio show host Dennis Prager ("He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization." 28 November 2006), and countless other Right-Wing-nuts, for wanting to hold a Koran during his congressional swearing-in ceremony, Ellison has responded with calm, equanimity, and class (On Goode for example, he's said, "I don't know the fellow and I'd rather just say he has a lot to learn about Islam."
To my mind, he's a great example for us all (particularly those of us who would be wanting to kick some so-called Christian butt right about now for making such comments -- guess now you know why I never went into politics!). I also think, sadly, this is only the beginning of such crazyness surrounding Mr Ellison. I wish him well.
"Many people see their religion as an identity thing, much in the same way Crips or Bloods might say, 'I'm this, this is the set I'm rolling with,' " Ellison said, referring to the infamous street gangs. "They've never actually tried to explore how religion should connect us, they're into how religion divides us. ... They haven't really explored ... how my faith connects me to you."
Woman of the Year, 2007: Nancy Pelosi (D, CA)
First Female Speaker of the House. Daughter of one mayor of Baltimore (Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr.) and sister of another (Thomas D'Alesandro, III). Right wing target (and take note of how many unflattering photos will be shown of her in 2007: they always play then 'she looks bad' card against women). Next year, politics in Washington will be All About Nancy: What will Nancy do? What won't she do? And how many investigations will she launch against the Bush Administration? Stay tuned....
Man for All Seasons: The Godfather of Soul
Thanks for the Funk. Thanks for "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" (I Am. We Are) Thanks for Getting Up on the Good Foot, and the dancing. Thanks for being you.