The most shocking moments of 2021

Mildred Europa Taylor December 28, 2021
Ghanaian-American fashion designer Virgil Abloh died of cancer this year at 41. Photo: Instagram

Every year, stories that make headlines around the world do get more shocking than the year before, and 2021 has not been different.

2021 has been the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the last few weeks, stories about the response to COVID-19 seem to be what we hear and read about. However, other shocking events grabbed the world’s attention this year.

The following list details the most shocking moments of 2021:

Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president in January. Photo: WFAA-TV

Kamala Harris became vice president

Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office in a historic ceremony in January, becoming the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American to hold the office. The daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, Harris was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court.

GETTY IMAGES

U.S. Capitol riots that left five dead

The unprecedented January 6 Capitol siege unfolded while the Senate and House of Representatives had convened to certify the state results of the presidential election which saw Joe Biden emerge as the winner. The rioters had earlier gathered in the nation’s capital to protest the results of the presidential elections citing baseless accusations of fraud which had been propagated by former president Donald Trump. The rioting was also spurred by a speech Trump gave while addressing them as he reiterated the election was fraudulent and called on the protesters to “walk down to the Capitol.”

The incident left five people including a Capitol officer dead. Trump became the first U.S. president to be impeached more than once over inciting his protesters to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6. He was later acquitted in the U.S. Senate.

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (HARPO PRODUCTIONS – JOE PUGLIESE)

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Tell-All Interview

Months after stepping away from royal life, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in March engaged in an extraordinary interview with Oprah Winfrey. In the two-hour, pre-recorded tell-all, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex opened up about their decision to step back from senior royal life. They spoke about their lives inside the palace, including making bombshell revelations about racism within the Royal Family, mental health, and how the last few years of their relationship had been like.

The interview, which first aired on CBS, attracted some 17 million audiences, according to the Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal reported that Winfrey’s production company, Harpo, sold the interview right to CBS for a reported fee of between $7 million and $9 million.

The vessel was en route to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands when it got stuck. CNES2021, DISTRIBUTION AIRBUS DS via BBC

Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is one of the most important trade routes in the world as it allows for more direct trading between Asia and Europe, cutting off the need to circumnavigate Africa and reducing voyage time. At least 12% of the global trade passes through the Suez Canal, which is often described as the artery of world trade. The Ever Given vessel, which is about the size of four football fields, got stuck in the Suez Canal in March, making headlines across the world. The vessel was en route to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands when it got stuck, causing massive traffic with hundreds of vessels waiting to pass through the Canal. Several rescue operations to get it refloated and freed became successful after six days.

Nicki Minaj was accused of spreading misinformation after claiming a cousin’s friend suffered swollen testicles after getting a COVID-19 vaccine jab — Photo via @nickiminaj on Instagram

Nicki Minaj’s claim about ‘swollen testicles’ from COVID vaccine

Trinidad-born musician Nicki Minaj was in the news for all the wrong reasons in September after she posted a COVID-19 vaccine side effect claim on social media that several health experts categorically said was false and misleading.
The rapper, born Onika Tanya Maraj, claimed on Twitter that her cousin in Trinidad hadn’t taken the vaccine jab because his friend who got vaccinated suffered “swollen testicles” and became “impotent” afterward. The musician’s wild claim was immediately met with swift backlash as several people including health experts called her out for spreading misinformation. The Caribbean nation’s health minister, Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh, said her claim was “false.”

Simone Biles, of the United States, watches gymnasts perform after she exited the team final with apparent injury, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. The 24-year-old reigning Olympic gymnastics champion Biles huddled with a trainer after landing her vault. She then exited the competition floor with the team doctor. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Simone Biles chose mental health over gymnastics

Biles withdrew from the Olympic team competition in July after performing the vault. The 24-year-old said she wanted to protect her mental health. Biles, who had qualified for all finals, was expected to compete in individual all-round, floor exercise, uneven bars, beam and vault.

She talked about experiencing “the twisties”, which gymnasts describe as a kind of mental block. “I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being,” she said. She returned to the competition after some days to win bronze on the beam.

Actor and comedian Billy Porter revealed that he has been living with HIV for the last 14 years. Photo Credit: Twitter/Cinderella

Billy Porter revealed he is HIV positive

Actor Billy Porter said in an interview published in May that he has known for the past 14 years that he has been living with HIV but initially kept it from his mother as well as from his co-stars on the award-winning hit TV series Pose. Porter granted the interview to The Hollywood Reporter and described his work on Pose as “an opportunity to work through shame”. The series which began in 2018 saw Porter playing the character Pray Tell, an iteration of 1980s and 90s queer New York City ballroom dancers. Pray Tell was also an HIV-positive character.

DMX, Michael K Williams and Virgil Abloh passed away this year. Photos: GETTY/Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Instagram

Celebrity deaths

This year, the global Black community had to say goodbye to some of its illustrious brothers and sisters. The following celebrity deaths shocked the world:

Earl Simmons, known in the Hip Hop industry as DMX, passed away in April aged 50 in a New York hospital. After his death, many across the world mourned not only one of the most recognizable musicians and voices of the last half-century but also the most admirable star. Twitter was flooded with stories that came with visuals about how DMX joined the dancing procession at an Albanian wedding, and how he went to a restaurant in Buffalo to make omelets, and how he would not run away from fans who mob him in the streets.

Michael K Williams was 54 when he was found dead in his New York apartment in September. The actor died of a suspected drug overdose. Williams was famous for his role in the pioneering HBO series “The Wire” and played the character Omar Little.

Just last month, Ghanaian-American fashion designer Virgil Abloh also passed away at the age of 41. Abloh, who was Louis Vuitton’s first Black artistic director, died after a battle with cancer. The Ghanaian American became the center of attention when he was named Louis Vuitton’s new artistic director and gave big fashion labels a run for their money with the release of Off White, the streetwear and luxury fashion label that brought an edgy twist into the fashion game.

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