Last week, TIME Magazine released a poll to help them decide which people should make their list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Among the nominees, as many were surprised and glad to see, were several black women including Rihanna, Beyoncé, Lupita Nyong’o, and Laverne Cox, to name a few. All of these ladies are undoubtedly highly influential figures, and they all garnered a massive amount of fan support, which in a perfect world would have landed them all spots high up on the TIME 100 list. However, that is not the case, and, while Beyoncé made the list under the “Titans” category rather than the “Artists” category, Rihanna, Nyong’o, and Cox were all left out despite being fan favorites in the polls – these powerful women of color are clearly too much for TIME Magazine.
The fact that these three women in particular were left out of the list would not be nearly as disappointing if it were not for the people who did make it. People who fell nearly completely flat in the reader poll, such as John Green, Paul Rand and Vladimir Putin, made the list, which makes the exclusion of women of color such as Nyong’o, Rihanna, and Cox really quite insulting.
With Lupita Nyong’o being such a fresh face in the public eye, it can be understood why the decision to remove her from the final list, despite garnering nearly 50,000 votes, over 90 percent in her favour, would be made. She has only appeared in one film and her career is just starting. Aside from nearly making a clean sweep of the award shows and walking away with an Oscar, she has not yet had the chance to do much with her new found fame. However, she is poised to be on this list someday in the future – being a dark-skinned woman on the big screen is an invaluable feat in terms of racial representation. Perhaps Nyong’o’s portrayal of a strong-willed woman of color in 12 Years a Slave was too much for TIME, too.
Rihanna’s exclusion can also be understood to an extent. She has not had much going on in the past year in terms of her music or business ventures, which is a lot of what TIME bases their judgments for musicians on. However, her attitude is an incredibly powerful influencer among young women, especially women of color. Rihanna is adamant about being her own person, not caring what other people think about her and having things her way. In the world we live in, where sexism is so rampant to the point that it feels natural to many, that type of attitude is extremely valuable.
Laverne Cox, however, is the single most influential actor in the world right now simply for being visible for who she is. Not only is she a transgender woman of color playing a transgender woman of color on a critically acclaimed television series, but she is also on the forefront of transgender rights activism. Without Laverne Cox, the world would be largely blind to the issues of transgender women of color, but her quick rise into the spotlight as a fan favorite after Netflix released Orange Is the New Black has proven that Cox is far and away one of the most important figures in media today. In comparison to most of the other people on this list, both nominees and people who did make it on, Cox is one of the most active people on the human rights activism circuit. She is a figurehead for transgender acceptance and normalization and she is actively working to change the way society functions for the better of everyone.
With a positive rating of 91.5 percent of her nearly 90,000 total votes in the reader poll, Laverne Cox’s dismissal from the list is proof enough that she and the other excluded women of color are undoubtedly too much for TIME Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People to handle.
Opinion by Robin Syrenne