2021 was an atypical year, in that yes, there was a pandemic, but a lot still happened. And though we spent most of 2020 basically inside our houses, in 2021, fully vaccinated, most people went out and tried to do things. Which lead to some entertaining, surprising, and even remarkable moments.
With the year coming to a close, it’s time to take stock of what happened – good, bad and hilarious, without forgetting the moments in between and some that, somehow, qualify as all of the above. So, here are some of the moments we can’t forget happened in 2021!
#HotDogGate - J Balvin x Residente
HotDogGate was wild. First J Balvin called for a boycott of the Latin Grammys, because they hadn’t been fair to our communities. Residente took exception to that, particularly since musician Rubén Blades was being honored. He then compared J Balvin’s music to a hot dog cart, saying something to the effect that everyone likes hot dogs, but when people want to eat well, they go to a restaurant. Balvin responded by taking a picture in front of a hot dog cart, because of course he did.
Leylah Fernandez at US Open
Leylah Fernandez was one of the sports revelations of 2021. And with a run to the US Open final, she became one of the most exciting players to watch in the WTA. It wasn’t an ordinary run, either. Fernandez beat three top-five ranked players on her way to the final, and even though she ended up losing, the 19-year-old certainly made her mark. She’s now ranked 24 in the year, after she’d started 2021 ranked 88th.
In the Heights Controversy
In the Heights released to a lot of fanfare and big expectations, but criticism soon followed. It was valid criticism too, as the film, meant to portray Washington Heights, a neighborhood filled with Afro-Latines, saw few of them in the main casting. The controversy opened up a long-overdue conversation on colorism within our communities, one that forced Lin-Manuel Miranda, to wow to do better. But the conversation isn’t over, and we must all strive to do better, every day.
Adele Dancing Dembow
2021 gave us many things, we just didn’t think Adele dancing dembow with LeBron James would be one of them. But that’s exactly what we got, in a video that went viral online. At the wedding of Anthony Davis, Adele and James were caught on the dance floor and we just have to say, that’s some buen flow the two had. Here’s to a genre that’s growing, and that deserves attention and recognition.
MJ Rodriguez' Emmy Nomination
MJ Rodriguez made history this year by becoming the first transgender woman to be nominated for an Emmy in a lead acting category. It was about time too, because her work as Blanca, the matriarch of the House of Evangelista on Pose, had been deserving of recognition for a long time. And though Rodriguez didn’t win we celebrate her anyway, not just for making history, but for delivering an outstanding performance.
Natalia Bryant on the Cover of Teen Vogue
Natalia Bryant came into her own this year, and one of her biggest steps towards forging her own path, and her own identity, was landing the cover of Teen Vogue. The film major and model got candid with the magazine, speaking about her identity, family, and her reasons for leaving sports. And she made it clear that whatever she does next, she’s a force to be reckoned with, not because of who she’s related to, but because of who she is.
Frida Painting Selling for Record Number
Frida Kahlo is a celebrated artist. But so often the world likes to put price tags on everything – including art. This is why it was a big thing that in 2021, a self-portrait by Kahlo titled “Diego and I” set the record for the highest price paid for a Latin American artist, selling for a whopping 34.9 million. Ironically, the self-portrait beat a painting by Diego Rivera, with who Frida had a tumultuous relationship with, to earn that top spot. Poetic justice indeed.
Rebelde Revival Announcement
We only had to hear the first few notes, and we were singing the theme song at the top of our lungs. Netflix announced they were bringing back the popular telenovela Rebelde, this time focusing on a new generation, and fans of the original had a lot to say – good and bad. But the songs are back, and so are some of the characters, so we’re just going to have to give it a chance.
AOC's "Tax the Rich" Dress
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attended the 2021 Met Gala. That doesn’t sound like an AOC thing to do, at least, not until you look closer. The congresswoman wore a white dress with the words “Tax The Rich” in red letters, which does sound like an AOC thing to do. Send a message, and get people talking. That’s pretty much what the Met Gala is for, isn’t it?
Kendall Jenner Tequila Controversy
Kendall Jenner was accused, once again, of cultural appropriation. The culprit this time was an ad campaign for her liquor brand 818 Tequila. On it, Jenner can be seen on an agave farm, riding on horseback, drinking tequila on the back of a pickup truck, and portraying what people felt was her take on what “migrant” or “indigenous” women look like. Not a good look, to say the least.