BLAC’s 20th Anniversary Throwback: Flashing Back to 2012

BLAC anniversary

Art and play had a real-deal moment in the pages of BLAC in 2012. We belly danced, got to know the city’s most respected independent musicians, discovered how the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy turned the RiverWalk into a hot spot, and we coveted the year’s best fashion. In February, we caught up with extras from the remake of the 1976 classic movie Sparkle. The 2012 version starred Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter and Whitney Houston, and was set in Detroit during the Motown era.

And the BLAC annual calendar made its debut – well, sort of. Technically, the calendar was born in 2011 but as a one-off experiment, a piggyback off of photographer Noah Stephens’ The People of Detroit project. As it happened, y’all loved it so much that we brought it back officially in 2012 as a home birthed and bred staple. And in the years since, it’s become as expected and sought after as candied yams on Thanksgiving.

Still a Thing

The QLINE can get you from point A to point A1 and Kanye West is a now a religious leader, but these topics featured in BLAC in 2012 were a thing then and are still relevant today:

Environmentally friendly cars

Voter suppression


Spiritual guidance

The art of storytelling

Travel tips

High Time

In our September issue, we explored the world of legalized cannabis, particularly medical marijuana. In the wake of the 2009 Medical Marihuana Act, we saw marijuana gardens and hydroponic supply shops pop up across Detroit and beyond, and we noted a shift in attitude towards weed use. We chatted with “bud tenders” and activists like Richard Clement who were fighting for our right to party – and for the ailing’s right for relief from chronic pain, PTSD and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Last November, Michigan voted to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Potheads everywhere sent up jubilant smoke signals in anticipation of what this would mean for the cannabis industry, but many others were slower to celebrate. What happens to the thousands of mostly black people sitting in jail cells on weed charges? Will they and others with marijuana-related felonies be forced out of this booming, legitimized business? The jury’s still out.

No Justice, No Peace

A bag of Skittles, an Arizona iced tea and a hoodie was enough for George Zimmerman to stalk and kill Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, just three weeks after Martin’s 17th birthday. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in April and during the three-week trial, his lawyers invoked Florida’s now-infamous “stand your ground” law. The jury deliberated for 16 hours and ultimately found Zimmerman not guilty on all charges. Protests ensued and debates about race in America were reignited, a precursor to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Full Spectrum

Writer Amy Kuras sat down with actress Holly Robinson Peete for BLAC’s April issue. Peete’s son R.J. was diagnosed with autism in 2000, and in the years since, she’d become a fierce advocate for him and for the autism community at large. Ahead of our sister mag Metro Parent’s fifth annual Living With Autism Workshop – for which she was the keynote speaker – Peete discussed parenting a teen with autism, available resources and raising awareness in the black community.

Your son is 14 now. How are the turbulent teen years affected by his autism?

For us, the hardest things are the social circles – you know, those packs of boys that run wild on a middle school campus. We’d been so fortunate to have a great elementary school that had groups of kids who just embraced him and lifted him up, and now that they are in sixth grade and going on to the next level, things are starting to go a little downhill. That’s hard for any teen, but when you are on the spectrum and you have social deficits, it’s especially challenging.

What needs to change to make evidence-based care available to all families?

One of the things that doesn’t need to change is the definition of autism. We don’t need to narrow the scope of who needs what. If anything, we need to broaden our resources, so children all over the spectrum can be treated. More than anything it’s empathy. It’s the overall theme of empathy for what’s going on with these children. Everyone should help, even by spreading the word that autism is treatable and that children with autism have thoughts and feelings. Even if they can’t ultimately express that, they’re there, they can hear you. If we got started there, we would be doing real well.

Why do you think that the African American community seems to have less awareness about autism?

I think it’s twofold. One, there’s a cultural stigma in the African American community – not all of us have this in our families, but most African Americans will read this and shake their heads and say, “That’s my family.” We tend to really look the other way when it comes to mental health or developmental disabilities. It’s a shameful thing and can be very embarrassing. Plus, there is less access to diagnosis. There is a lot of disagreement in the autism community, but the one thing every agrees on is that early intervention is key. Those are things I hope we will abolish in the African American community, because minority kids are getting diagnosed two to four years later, and that’s not OK.

In ’12

President Barack Obama beats Mitt Romney to win a second term

Maine, Maryland and Washington become the first states to legalize gay marriage

Gabby Douglas becomes the first U.S. gymnast in history to win both the all-around and team gold medals

Hip-hop princess Blue Ivy Carter is born in New York City

Octavia Spencer wins the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Help

History Highlight

On Sept. 11, terrorists attacked the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. nationals. President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were at the forefront of the controversy and subsequent two-year investigation, which faulted the administration for security lapses.

Viral Quote

“I got bronchitis … ain’t nobody got time for that!” – Sweet Brown

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