By Hayden Wright
Time‘s Person of the Year distinction is often reserved for geopolitical heavyweights, politicians, titans of industry and technological pioneers. This year, the top two are (unsurprisingly) Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, whose general election battle set the United States on an unprecedented course. However, the top ten makes room for a cultural influencer, GRAMMY nominee, activist and icon: Beyoncé.
Melissa Harris-Perry (formerly of MSNBC) penned the essay in support of the inclusion. She maps Beyoncé’s evolution from girl power-oriented teen star to Black Power thought leader. That evolution came full circle in 2016 with the release of Lemonade, her “opus” about oppression, resilience and identity.
“With Lemonade — an album, an Emmy-nominated film and, as America looked on, an experience — Beyoncé publicly embraced explicitly feminist blackness at a politically risky moment,” wrote Harris-Perry. “For three years, the stream of cell-phone videos of fatal encounters between African-Americans and local police sustained a national controversy that, in some quarters, came down to a choice between one and the other. She chose blackness even as many Americans rejected it, taking sides and never wavering.”