The New Year is approaching, which means it's time to look back on the year's most shocking and unforgettable moments.
From political twists to one of the most memorable moments in entertainment history, here are some of Black America's biggest news stories and most unforgettable moments of 2022.
Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock At The 2022 Oscars
The slap heard around the world. One of the most-talked-about moments this year was Hollywood sweetheart Will Smith strolling up on stage to deliver a blow to Chris Rock's face after the comedian cracked a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's appearance. Rock said, "Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can't wait to see it." After Smith smacked the presenter, the King Richard actor then said, "Keep my wife's name out your motherf***ing mouth!"
The moment has been the subject of news coverage, hot takes, and tons of Twitter conservations since Smith suffers from alopecia and had to shave her head. It also sparked conversations about comedy and violence against comedians.
While Rock didn't say much following the shocking slap, Smith ended up banned from the Academy Awards for 10 years, and people wondered if his upcoming movie Emancipation was going to see the light of day. He apologized several times for the slap and discussed his state of mind at the time in a YouTube video and interviews.
Roe v. Wade
The Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, undoing decades of constitutional abortion rights protection in the United States and sending abortion clinics and women's health providers into a frenzy. A draft of the opinion originally leaked in early May, sparking massive protests across the country and calls for Congress to enshrine abortion access and protection into law.
Several states passed anti-abortion laws soon after the decision, and some attorney generals even threatened to prosecute people who seek abortions and those who provide the services. There were also conversations about how this would affect other aspects of people's health, including birth control and alternative ways to get pregnant.
President Joe Biden responded to the highest court's decision by signing an executive order protecting abortion access in July. While the future of abortion remains murky in the country, political experts believe that it will be a major factor in current and future elections.
WNBA star Brittney Griner's incarceration in Russia spanned most of the year. The 32-year-old was arrested in February for bringing a cartridge containing cannabis oil into the country. The moment sparked outrage and calls for the United States to bring the basketball player home. She pled guilty to drug charges and was sentenced to nine years in a women's penal colony.
Since her appeal was also denied, all hopes for her release rested on a potential prisoner swap to bring her home. That became a reality on December 8, when the U.S. traded Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner.
“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” President Biden said at the White House alongside Griner’s wife, Cherelle. “After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.”
Takeoff Dies After Fatal Shooting
The world lost a member of the Migos this year in a tragic way. Takeoff, born Kirshnik Khari Ball, was shot and killed on November 1 at a bowling alley in Houston, Texas. He was with his uncle and bandmate Quavo when it happened, and authorities have
Takeoff's death sent the hip-hop world into a spiral and prompted an outpouring of support for both his family and former bandmates. Offset, who split from the Migos earlier this year, wrote a heartbreaking message about his late friend.
"Dear Take, doesn’t feel real posting you like this," he wrote on Instagram. "This still doesn’t feel like reality. I’ve been searching for the right words to say, but there aren’t any that will suffice. Until we meet again, Rest In Power. I love you."
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The long-awaited sequel to the iconic Marvel movie arrived on November 11 this year, bringing in over $180 million on its opening weekend. It also comes after Chadwick Boseman's sudden passing, which was reflected in the heartwrenching story of Wakanda trying to move on from the in-universe death of King T'Challa. The grieving characters also have to deal with a new, never-before-seen threat of Namor and his underwater civilization.
TikTok Pink Sauce
A mysterious, bright-colored sauce crafted by Chef Pii, a Black culinary artist based in Florida, broke the internet for months. Things took a turn for the worst when she started selling her infamous Pink Sauce, and people reportedly got spoiled sauce or busted bottles in the mail. The controversy also drew the attention of the Food and Drug Administration, some interesting TikTok responses from Chef Pii herself, a talk show, and even a prominent company in the food industry. Several YouTube videos documented the turbulent saga.
Serena Williams' Final Tennis Match
The GOAT of tennis retired her racquet for good this year. Serena Williams announced her retirement back in August and played her final game on Friday, September 2. The 23-time Grand Slam singles title winner lost to Australian player Ajla Tomljanovic at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City while seeking her 24th grand slam win. The game was ESPN's most-viewed tennis broadcast in the network's history, drawing in nearly 7 million views.
“I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” she said when announcing her retirement. “I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”
Buffalo Supermarket Shooting
An 18-year-old white supremacist opened fire inside a Buffalo, New York grocery store, killing 10 people and wounding three others on May 14. Payton Gendron drove over three hours to Tops Friendly Supermarket to carry out targeted violence against Black people, as investigators revealed after the shooter was arrested. Authorities said he wrote a racist manifesto peddling the "great replacement theory," planned the vicious attack for months, and committed other disturbing actions.
On November 28, the suspected shooter pleaded guilty to 15 charges, including domestic terrorism motivated by hate, murder, and attempted murder. His sentencing hearing is set for February 15, 2023. The shooting left the predominantly-Black community of Buffalo terrified and revitalized calls to crack down on domestic terrorism in the United States.
One upsetting moment involving two Black girls angered people across the country. On July 17, a Black mother uploaded a video of a Sesame Place employee dressed up as Rosita appearing to wave "no" at her Black daughters after hugging white children.
"THIS DISGUSTING person blatantly told our kids NO then proceeded to hug the little white girl next to us!" the outraged mother wrote on Instagram. "Then when I went to complain about it, they looking at me like I’m crazy."
This viral video sparked allegations of racism against the theme park, especially when more Black families came forward with their own stories of alleged discrimination at Sesame Place. The Brown family, whose daughters were the subject of the video, may seek legal action. Another family alleging the same experience have sued Sesame Place for $25 million.
Kai Cenat Dominates On Twitch
Kai Cenat, a YouTuber-turned-Twitch Streamer, became the most subscribed English channel in October, racking up over 80,000 subscribers. The streamer also went viral when he hit his milestone, tearfully calling his mother to tell him the good news and asking Twitch to pay more attention to Black creators. He would obliterate his record again by hitting 100,000 subscribers weeks later.
Cenat has been making online content since February 2018, mainly focusing on vlogs, gaming, and reactions. Several celebrities have popped up in his streams, as well, including Lil Baby, Bobby Shmurda, and 21 Savage. The rising star took home the Stramer of the Year Award at the 2022 Streamy Awards.
Wendy Williams' health concerns forced her to take a step back from her longtime show last year. The future of The Wendy Williams Show has been a hot topic in 2022. Earlier this year, Sherri Shepard became the permanent host of the program while the titular host was on hiatus. Then came June, when the show was officially ending after 13 seasons and 14 years on the air.
According to reports, the 58-year-old talk show host didn't even know her show was canceled and execs had to repeatedly remind her. In September, Williams reportedly entered a "wellness facility" for substance abuse -- something she's been struggling with for years.
It's been a rough year for Ye. From the release of Donda 2 to his highly-publicized divorce from Kim Kardashian, the rapper dominated headlines for many reasons. He also launched a social media rampage against Pete Davidson while the comedian was dating his then-wife.
But those moments pale in comparison to when he started embracing controversial topics, such as wearing a White Lives Matter T-shirt with Candace Owens or promoting anti-Semitism. One of the most viral moments from this year comes from his interview with right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, where Ye said there's a "lot of things I love Hitler."
All these antics and more lost him lucrative business deals with brand titans, including Balenciaga, JPMorgan, and Adidas. The latter actually terminated the billion-dollar Yeezy brand, chopping down West's net worth. As the artist formerly known as Kanye West continues to spew hateful rhetoric, who knows what 2023 will look like for the once-acclaimed rapper.